I offer my sincere welcome to Patrick Tchakounte as a new, talented contributing writer for Joy In Truth. This beautiful composition on the nature of the Church, redeemed by Christ and animated by the life and grace of the Holy Spirit, is his first article to appear on Joy In Truth. May God continue to bless his gifts of writing and evangelizing discipleship in the Church! — Deacon Frederick Bartels
By Patrick Tchakounte
14 July 2017
The mystery of the Christian religion is that of the Catholic Church of Rome, promise and presence of the Kingdom of Heaven and Sacrament of Salvation, who strives for the redemption of the human race. The Redeemer labored in His theandric acts for the generation and the formation, the justification and the sanctification, the perfection and the beatification of His Bride, the Catholic Church, His Mystical Body, of whom He truly is the Head, in the successor of the person of Peter in governing the Church. And this Church, this living organism, is a Society, a visible unity of different members with each comprised of different charism, of different purpose and function. One teaches with the charism of teaching, one admonishes with the charism of prophecy, one heals with the charism of miracles, one builds up the Church with the charism of service, one redeems with the martyrdom of suffering. In this Mystical Vine, which over the centuries has extended to all the corners of the Earth, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).
The Mystical Vine, the Catholic Church is animated by a novel vital principle, which is its Soul, the Holy Spirit, who is the Grace that animates all the members of the Body, from its infallible Head which is the Seat of its thought to its Heart, which is the Eucharist, the Source of its personality. In the person of the Virgin Mary, the first Catholic Christian believer, is found the Immaculate type of the Church, whom she represents and whom she aides in perfecting through her power of intercession in the total loving life she lives in union with the Holy Trinity. She receives love from the Father and the Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit, which she directs by her maternal intersession and in participation of her Son’s mission to the faithful of the Church. This love, who is the Holy Spirit, is the spiritual Law of the Mystical Vine, of the Mystical Body, and inspires through grace the actions of the ardent and pious believer.
Grace is the principle of the spiritual life, it is a light that communicates an intellectual likeness to God and that enables the created nature to love the Godhead with the Life of the Holy Trinity, which is Love. Grace is the active principle in the sanctification of the human person and is the foundation of man’s spiritual progress towards the age of the perfect, that state of transforming union that is characteristic of the lives of the saints, these stars on Earth, that pave the way towards Heaven and indicate the way to travel during the times of tribulation. Grace is a favor granted that perfects the creature and enables it in Heaven to see God face to face; that is, in the light of glory; it enables the spiritual creature united in wisdom and charity to contemplate God in his Infinite Perfection as He is in Himself: Pure Act.
On the Earth, Grace is the principle of strength and of light, it strengthens the Church Militant by feeding the faithful with the myocardial Eucharist, the Kiss of Jesus and the Bread of the Angels, that strengthens their souls in power of memory, increases their intelligence in power, enlightens their intellects in purity and their reasons in clarity, and enkindles their spirits in charity. The Eucharist, that most solemn Food, is the Source, Summit, and the Center of the Catholic Faith which enables the believer in good piety to become another Christ; it is a mystical marriage in which the soul of the believer is animated with the love and the sentiments of the Soul of Christ, the heart of the believer is united to the Person of Christ, and the reason is moved and illumined by the Reason of the Word: divinization, a principle by which grace enables men to transcend the sphere of a mere rational creature to become a member of the Divine Family by adoption in the Son and thus are granted a share in the divine nature of God. In its fullest realization, divinization makes men like unto God, into saints fit for veneration as the holy and perfected exemplars of Christ.
With Grace, it is possible to achieve all. Grace, the life of the Holy Spirit, is the principle of the spiritual life in man. It perfects the human nature, it cleanses—in Baptism—the human being of the stain of Original Sin and purifies the soul of actual sin, it enlightens reason and the intellect and dispels the darkness of error and ignorance, it enkindles the heart with the fire of charity and confers merit to the moral deeds and the spiritual acts of the person. Thus, it is a spring of water, a ray of light, and an ardent fire. Grace, the Holy Spirit, teaches the devoted faithful the Christian law of agape love, self-denying love.
“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold into slavery to sin”—Romans 7:14
The human nature is subject to the inclination to sin, termed concupiscence. Concupiscence is the inheritance of Original Sin, the sin of the First Parents, Adam and Eve, who in disobedience to the command of God, and at the spurring of the serpent, ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and of evil. The effects of the Original Sin in the soul are: the loss of friendship with God, the deprivation of supernatural grace, ignorance, the disorder between reason and the senses, the privation of immortality, the inclination to evil; corporally its effects include: the subjection or at least, the vulnerability and the affinity of man and woman to the Devil and its temptations, disharmony between man and woman, the increased hostility with the natural world, natural evils such as famine, catastrophes, plagues, and illness, and finally human injustice due to the inability to follow God’s laws and love one’s neighbor.
There is enmity between Grace, which is the Life of the Spirit, and nature, which is the life of the flesh. The flesh, in its inordinate appetites inclines towards the apparent good that the intellect apprehends as evil. The flesh, represents man in his carnality, disposed to the triple lusts: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; and tempted by the seven capital vices of pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, avarice, and sloth. These lusts and vices lead man towards eternal Perdition and ultimately prevent him from enjoying the friendship of the Godhead and the Blessedness of Heaven. The character of Grace is self-denying love, a loving abnegation that accepts the immolation of the Cross, bears it patiently, loves it in profundity, and seeks it in greater charity; it is a love of suffering that transfigures human life through the lived mystery of the Cross of Jesus Christ, which is itself the manifestation of the Incarnation, the truth of the Redemption conceived in the Divine Mind from Eternity. The character of nature is the flesh which seeks its own interest, rejects the Cross and departs from all suffering; nature, in truth, is self-love and is made evident in the disorder of the intellect, pride, which elevates human reason above Divine Reason and exhibits revolt towards Divine authority, particularly that of the Catholic Church. Grace, the Holy Spirit, departs from pride and inordinate self-love.
The faithful who is humble, poor in spirit, and trusting as a child, is the friend to Grace. The trust of the child is evidenced in the obedience towards the divine commands, which are the Ten Commandments, and the two-fold commands of love. The moral life, lived according to the Ten Commandments permits for the habitual state of sanctifying grace, and when the spiritual commands of love are lived, the soul crowned with the seven gifts bears fruits onto Eternal Life: “In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
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Photo Credit: Jean II Restout [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Patrick Tchakounte is a four-year Biochemistry major from the University of Oklahoma with a minor in Spanish and a two year Web Design and Development major from Oklahoma City Community College. He has been a blogger for the past ten years and regularly posts on a personal blog titled Mysterium Verbi. He has a passion for the Roman Catholic Church, having served as an altar server, and is in the process of discerning to join Opus Dei. Mr. Tchakounte has diverse interests in philosophy, art, theology, comic books, and film. Additionally, he speaks French fluently.