Transformation as Comrade-in-Arms

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Fulfillment of Manhood through Following the Heroic Christ

Through the following of Jesus Christ unto heroic love, using all his  intelligence and energy,  man reaches the utter fulfillment he was meant to achieve as man. For the one he follows is no mere exceptional individual  but the God-Man, whose humanity is that of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity,  “God from God, light from light, true God from true God”.  In striving to follow Jesus Christ by imitation man takes as his model the perfect manhood, the standard by which everyman’s humanity and, by implication, his masculinity, is measured. Jesus Christ is the Model and Pattern of the perfect human being and therefore of the perfect man. He is the one supremely worthy of being imitated in all virtues.

But if He were merely someone to be imitated, no matter how noble his character, he would not be able to overcome the inherent brokenness and corruption of man’s nature due to original sin. But he was and is savior, the Savior of man, who assumed human nature in order to restore it to its original grandeur according to the Creator’s blueprints. This is what He achieved through becoming man and throughout the events of his existence culminating in his salvific passion and death,and in the revelation of his transformed human nature in His Resurrection.

Since the Lord Jesus enables men to participate in His transformed human nature through baptism and the other sacraments, the Christian actually has the Resurrected Christ’s life within him with all of that life’s energy and virtues which are capable of transforming man “unto a complete man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13).

All that is required is for the Christian to open the doorway of his soul, of his intelligence and will through the assent of faith, hope and love to the action of sanctifying grace.

Thus, the man who decides to give his life to follow Jesus Christ, to stand alongside Him, and to combat with Him for the salvation of souls not only patterns his life on that of Jesus Christ but opens his soul in an extraordinary way to the action of the Holy Spirit who is the source of the energy of the universe, the fountain of all creativity. The Holy Spirit transforms him, enlightens his intellect with wisdom and prudence; strengthens his will with decisiveness; and enables him to acquire self-mastery. Gradually, through the mysterious convergence of his freedom and the Holy Spirit’s action, he grows in the theological and moral virtues.

Thus he is christified and participates in the God-Hero’s victory over death. In this way a man’s nature, which in the case of a male involves his masculinity, is elevated, raised to a higher level, perfected, ennobled by the supernatural transforming action of the divine light and energy in his soul. Nothing truly human, nothing that is masculine, is destroyed; all is empowered and made more sublime. In this way a man who follows Christ reaches “a complete man” (Eph. 4:13) in accordance with the archetype of him in the Divine Mind.He achieves mature manhood on his way to eternal salvation.

The glory and grandeur of the priesthood lies in the identity of the priest as one chosen to be an Alter Christus (Another Christ), to prolong the mission of Jesus Christ on earth for the salvation of souls through offering the Holy Sacrifice, sanctifying and shepherding. Hence, he is the coworker with Christ in initiating others into the life-giving mysteries of the passion,death and resurrection of the God-Man.

Thus, not only is the priest’s life fulfilling but it enables the lives of others to reach their utter fulfillment. In a most strange and mysterious way, the sacrifices made by a priest, notably marriage and physical fatherhood, are transformed by the power of God into channels of a powerful personal fulfillment of his manhood. The priest who lives out his vowed following of the heroic Christ shows in his own person to the world the truth of Christ’s words: “For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Mt 16:25)

 The priest’s fulfillment is that of the warrior and the mountain-climber:  through  sweat, pain and obstacles he reaches heights of happiness unknown to those unwilling to take risks.
Christ fulfills his promise:  “Every one that has left house or brethren… shall receive a hundredfold and shall possess life everlasting.”( Mt. 19:29; Mk. 10:29-30).  A missionary, Jim Elliot, slain while evangelizing, had written in his journal: “He is no fool to give up what he can’t keep, to gain what he can’t lose.” Well does the priest come to know this. His “blood, sweat and tears” lead uncannily to what he had said it would: “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be fulfilled”(Jn.15:11). So, we can confidently obey him when he tells us “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jn. 14: 27).If you want proof that the promise has already been fulfilled, just flip through the lives of saints. When, for instance, the powerful and wealthy Thomas A Beckett, in the movie “Becket” was about to be ordained priest, he wonders at the fact that the renunciations involved do not cost him more. Before the Crucifix he says: « I  wish there were something I really found hard parting with. It all seems too easy . Are you sure , Lord, you are not laughing at me? It all seems so easy!”