Newman comments on Christ’s presence to men

Newman realizes that Christ’s presence in Christians and in his Church is mysterious, but based on Christ’s promise believes that it is a real presence.

“Through the Holy Ghost we have communion with Father and Son. “In Christ we are builded together,” says St. Paul, “for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” “Ye are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.” “Strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” The Holy Spirit causes, faith welcomes, the indwelling of Christ in the heart. Thus the Spirit does not take the place of Christ in the soul, but secures that place to Christ.”

Although Newman recognized the mystery he indicates ways of thinking about it to show that it is not unreasonable, even though we do not understand it fully.

He continues quoting many of Our Lord’s promises such as the passage of the vine and the branches where He tells us to abide in Him. He explains that the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of Christ’s coming in an invisible manner: “And thus He is both present and absent; absent in that He has left the earth, present in that He has not left the faithful soul; or, as He says Himself, “The world seeth Me no more, but ye see Me.”

Newman then asks how God is present to the soul? And suggests that we think instead of the soul present to God: “The soul indeed acts through the body, and perceives through the body; but where is it? or what has it to do with place? or why should it be a thing incredible that the power of the Spirit should so visit the soul as to open upon it a Divine manifestation, which yet it perceives not, because its present perceptions are only through the body?” When we believe that Christ comes to the soul we may also think of the soul made present to God in heaven in a spiritual manner.

At the same time Newman explores the reality of Christ’s presence in the world in his glorious humanity: “While we know so little about our own souls, on the other hand, we are utterly ignorant of the state in which our Blessed Lord exists at present, and the relation of this visible world to Him; or whether it may not be possible for Him, in some mysterious way, to come to us, though He is set down on the right hand of God. Did He not, after His resurrection, come into a room, of which the doors were shut, yet suffer Himself to be handled, to prove that He was not a spirit?” The Risen Christ is in heaven, but he appears to the apostles after the Resurrection. Although He appears to them in his human nature He is not limited by his humanity. In addition to this appearance to the Apostles gathered together, Christ appeared many years later to St. John in a vision.

Next Newman will comment on Christ’s appearance to Saul of Tarsus on his way to Damascus, which was unlike the vision St. John had.

More later, during this Easter Week

 

 

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