DE MARIA NUMQUAM SATIS
Phyllis R. Schabow
Catholic Life, the title of this new publication, is a name whose meaning is as vast as the sea. Considering the current interest being shown in families to trace their roots and learn the family heritage, it is fitting that Catholics also take a glance backward and see what constitutes the origin of their spiritual life.
Catholic life begins in the sacramental waters of Baptism. In this sacrament, the life of Christ is germinated in the soul and a sort-of DNA chain is infused, a genetic code laid into the person who becomes an "alter Christus", another Christ.
Lest this notion be considered an exaggeration, we have the definitions of the Church which assure us that at the instant of baptism, a dramatic change takes place. The soul, born in the likeness of Adam, bearing the original sin which was communicated to it in human generation, is freed from this bondage. It is "excorporated" from a merely fleshly alliance, incorporated into the image and likeness of Christ, and given a share in the Divine nature. It receives an application of the merits of Christ and is changed into a new creature. There is the conferring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord, Is. 11:2-3). This moment is the soulís formal reception into the Church, whether that reception occurs in a cathedral, a delivery room, or in a hut in the most remote jungle.
Following St. John Eudes, we ought to thank God for this unmerited grace, to have been made one with Christ and his bride, the Church, in our own personal baptism. We did not ask for human life, and for those who were infants at the time of baptism, we did not ask for Divine life. But here it is! We are in possession of a bond with God, a connection between heaven and earth, between our soul and the soul of Christ!
This divine connection, once made, will last for all eternity. The mark, sign or seal of Christ is imprinted on the soul such that it remains whether the soul is tossed to the bosom of God for all eternity, or whether it plunges to the depths of hell. So intrinsically united is the mark of the sacraments of baptism and holy orders that it is said, even in hell, a priest will be addressed as "Father." A chilling reminder of the serious nature of the sacramental bond, and the reason the Church does not permit the begetting of new children in this sacrament if there is lacking a firm hope that children will be properly educated in the love of God.
Still, it is a tribute to the loving providence of God that he has made the sacrament of baptism, foundational to the beginning of new life in the church, so readily available and applicable to everyone, since all persons, whatever their faith, knowledge or skill, can baptise in case of emergency. There are many outside the boundary of the Catholic Church who think that they do the will of God by setting up their own "ministries". I came from them and I pray for them.
Baptised by a non-Catholic, one is still made a member of the Church since there is but One Lord, (Jesus Christ), One Faith, (Holy and Catholic) and One Baptism (of water and the Holy Ghost). Souls receiving a true and valid baptism are literally inserted into the bosom of Holy Mother Church, even though the sacrament may be applied illicitly. (Just as Christ is truly present m the Sacrament of the altar instituted in the Greek Orthodox Church, which we generally are not permitted to attend, so also baptism, administered using the Churchís formula and the Churchís intention, is a valid sacrament.) Here are produced some of the many souls who, if they die in that state of sanctifying grace which was infused into them, will help to fill up the chairs in heaven of the fallen angels who vacated them, and be a glorious surprise to all of us.
Once conceived, the life of Christ within the soul needs the nourishment of the other sacraments, principally the Precious Blood, so that Christís life may grow and flourish within the soul. This "need" becomes like a magnet drawing the soul, from the time it reaches the age of reason, to the fullness of truth and the nourishment necessary to sustain the spiritual life.
As a convert to the Catholic faith from a Lutheran formation, I came into the Church with a realization of the Fatherhood of God, and with a love for His Son, Jesus, who we knew through Holy Scripture. But there was a wholly new person to be found within the true faith, and that was the all-pure Mother of God, Mary most holy. It is she, together with her Spouse, the Holy Ghost, who produced the first Christ and she goes on producing all of the members of his Mystical Body. This is the theme of the life and teaching of one of the greatest Marian priests who ever lived, St. Maximillian Kolbe, who wanted to see every person renew his baptismal promises by making an unreserved consecration to the Immaculata, thus making effective his re-birth in baptism.
Mary Immaculate is the person who deserves to be thanked for this precious gift of life in Christ, the one without whom there would be no Jesus, no Church, no access to the Father. Remember, we all fell in Adam. The whole earth was cursed in his act of disobedience, which is the reason priests go about blessing everything and everyone.
All who have been baptised "of water and the Holy Ghost," have had Catholic life communicated to them, since Catholic life is simply Christís life. As Dom Columba Marmion has emphasized in his great writings, Christ is the very life of the soul after baptism.
Table of Contents
Related materials available from Catholic Treasures:
Of Mary, There Is Never Enough
True Devotion to Mary
Preparation for Total Consecration
Mystical City of God (4 Vol. or Abridged)
Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit