The Discipline of Christ and Other Notes on Pelikan III

“[W]hile Christ had taught righteousness, he has also granted it, and . . . he had infused love and not merely exhibited it.  Christ as teacher and pattern, even Christ crucified as example, needed to be related to the larger defintion of Christ as Redeemer.  He who provided the example of virtue must also provide the assistance of grace.  ‘It would,’ according to Anselm, ‘be useless for men to be imitators of him if they were not participants in his merit.'”  Pelikan III, The Discipline of Christ, 129.

Also, for the period, looks like Peter Damian is worthy of further inquiry and reading.  Note that the first use of the term transubstantiation is wrongly and anachronistically attributed to him.  Pelikan III, 203.

 “It was one of the historic achievements of Anselm’s doctrine of the atonement ot have translated the fundamental significance of the biblical and liturgical image of sacrifice–that the redemption of mankind by Christ was an act addressed to God, not to man or ot the devil–into a form that was compatible with the immutability of God.”  Pelikan III, 139ff (detailed explanation of this statement follows).

Regarding Bernard of Clairvaux:  “Although it was ultimately true that ‘Thou art merciful because thou art supremely just,’ still only the Last Judgment would bring a resolution of the paradox of justice and mercy, for it was ultimately resolved only in Christ.  ‘He whose name is called “Savior,” . . . he himself is the Judge, in whose hands I tremble for fear. . . . O sinner, hope in him of whom you are afraid, flee to him from whom you have fled.’  Only because Christ was both Judge and Savior, both just and merciful, could he be truly either one. . . . And so it would be throughout time, with ‘thy two justifications,’ mercy and judgment, side by side, ‘until mercy having been exalted high above judgment, my miserable state shall cease’ at the end.  For ‘in the time of judgment [he] will exalt mercy above judgment.’  Once mercy had accomplished this end, its mission would be completed.  ‘Only the justice of God will be remembered, and there will be no place for mercy and no time for mercy,’ because the paradox would be resolved.”  Pelikan III, 157.

The immaculate conception of Mary did not become RCC dogma until 1854; her assumption 1950.  Pelikan III, 172.

One interesting passage in the extended discussion of the doctrinal development of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist during the period:  “Within the eucharistic prayer, it was increasingly the words of institution-understood as literally true, in opposition to Berengar’s view that they were not meant ‘literally {properie}’-to which Western theologians attributed the power of transforming bread and wine into body and blood.  There continued to be echoes of the characteristically Eastern idea that the transformation took place through the invocation of the Holy Spirit.  But as the emphasis shifted from ‘being filled with the Spirit’ to ‘making the body and blood present,’ the words of institution came to be seen in isolation from the rest of the eucharistic prayer, including invocation of the Spirit.”  Pelikan III, 200.  Interesting as a potential way in which the split between East and West may have fueled the “unbridgableness” of the chasm between the Reformers and the 16th Century RCC.  In what (other?) ways, if any, can Calvin, as a theologian of the Holy Spirit, be seen suspended in the air between the Eastern and Western cliffs?  Maybe not legitmately here, but it made me wonder.

More regarding the RCC position (at least the historical position) on reality of presence: “When Berengar sought to put the presence on the same level with such statements as ‘Christ is the chief cornerstone,’ he failed to comprehend the difference between this figure of speech and the words of institution, ‘This is my body,’ which ‘no one should suppose to have been set forth figuratively by him through some sort of signification,’ since what was involved was not a ‘figure,’ but ‘reality.’  It was not ‘body,’ but ‘bread,’ that was used figuratively, since ‘we sometimes call things by the names of the things from which they have been made.'”  Pelikan III, 201.


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