Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Faith Seeking Understanding for October 1, 2006

Even though we are continuing with our study of St. Irenaeus, and his Against the Heresies, the month of October brings to mind two things. First, October is the month of the Rosary; it is also “Respect Life” month. As such, I would like to encourage everyone to come to the Life Chain at Warren and Wayne Roads on Sunday afternoon, from 2:30 – 3:30 pm. Also, throughout the month, we can pray the rosary – alone, with our families, with friends, or at the parish – for an end to abortion and for a greater respect of human dignity at every stage.

Interestingly enough, the very Gnostics that St. Irenaeus dealt with had very little regard for human dignity, because everything “material” was the result of the principle of evil. Hence, the Gnostics opposed marriage, procreation, and even supported suicide as a means of allowing their “spiritual self” to escape the evil body. Although our culture now seems to worship the material world – instead of rejecting it – the Catholic Church still plays an important role in calling to mind the truth and meaning of the human person.

Last week, we saw how Irenaeus demonstrated the historical truth of the Church: bishops in every diocese could be traced to the apostles. Most importantly, the Diocese of Rome was at the heart and center of the Catholic Church, preserving her unity and doctrine. Irenaeus continues: “Since therefore we have such proofs [of apostolic origin], it is not necessary to seek the truth among others with it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers” (bk. 3, ch. 4, n. 1).

We notice clearly that Irenaeus stresses the importance of the Church as the repository of the truth; Scripture is often silent, in which case: “How should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down?” (ibid.).

Having established the Church as the firm rule and guide of the truth, he returns to demonstrating the theology of redemption. Jesus Christ must have truly become man, not only appearance, but completely; otherwise, our salvation would be empty: “He caused man to cleave to and become one with God. For unless man had overcome the enemy of man, the enemy would not have been legitimately vanquished. And again: unless it had been God who had freely given salvation, we could never have possessed it securely. And unless man had been joined to God, he could never have become a partaker of incorruptibility. For it was incumbent upon the Mediator between God and men, by His relationship to both, to bring both to friendship and concord, and present man to God, while He revealed God to man” (ch. 18, n. 7).

He concludes this argument with stirring words, offering us profound hope in the reality of the Incarnation (God becoming man): “If, not having been made flesh, He did appear as if flesh, His work was not a true one. But what He did appear, that He also was: God recapitulated in Himself the ancient formation of man, that He might kill sin, deprive death of its power, and give life to man; and therefore His works are true” (ibid.).

Irenaeus begins the fourth book with an analysis of the continuity between the old covenant and the new. Both, he says, are established by the same God – not two different Gods. God has not changed, but rather fulfilled the covenant through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: “The Lord did not abrogate the natural [precepts] of the law, by which man is justified…but He extended and fulfilled them. …He did not teach us these things as being opposed to the law, but as fulfilling the law, and implanting in us the varied righteousness of the law” (bk. 4, ch. 13, n. 1).

Irenaeus continues to supply a wealth of theology and history for us, so we will continue next week. My pilgrimage to Italy is from October 18 – 27, and I appreciate your prayers for our group. If anyone would like to send prayer requests along with us, please e-mail or bring your requests by the office. May God bless you!