CHRIST AND HIS WORK OF REDEMPTION
SUFFERING WITH CHRIST
An Anthology of the Writings of Dom Columba Marmion, O.S.B.
COMPILED BY DOM RAYMUND THIBAUT, O.S.B.
THE NEWMAN PRESS
Nihil Obstat: Edward A. Cerny, 5.5., D.D. Censor librorum
Imprimatur: Francis P. Keough, DD. Archbishop of
March 17, 1952
A. The Person of Christ
I. THE PLACE OF CHRIST IN
THE DIVINE PLAN
God chose us in Christ "before the
foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted in His
sight in charity. Who hath predestinated us unto the adoption of
children through Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the purpose of
His will: unto the praise of the glory of His grace, in which He hath
graced us in His beloved Son." [By the gift of a similar
are the terms in which the Divine plan is set forth by the Apostle St.
Paul, who had been caught up to the third heaven, and was chosen by God
to bring to light, as he himself says, the economy of the mystery which
hath been hidden from all eternity in God.
Revelation has come to us, bringing its light.
It teaches us that there is an ineffable paternity in God. God is a
Father: that is the fundamental dogma which all the others suppose, a
magnificent dogma which leaves the reason confounded, but ravishes
faith with delight and transports holy souls.
God is a Father. Eternally, long before the created light rose upon the
world, God begets a Son to Whom He communicates His nature, His
perfections, His beatitude, His life, for to beget is to communicate
being and life: Filius meus es tu,
ego hodie genui te; ex utero ante luciferum genui te.
In God then, is life, life communicated by the Father, and received by
the Son. This Son, like in all things to the Father, is the only Son of
God: Unigenitus Dei Filius.
He is so because He has, 1
with the Father, one same and indivisible Divine nature, and both,
although distinct from one another (on account of their personal
properties "of being Father" and "of being Son"), are united in a
powerful, substantial embrace of love, whence proceeds that Third
Person, Whom Revelation calls by a mysterious name: the Holy Ghost.
Such is, as far as faith can know it, the secret of the inmost life of
God; the fullness and the fruitfulness of this life are the source of
the incommensurable bliss that the ineffable society of the three
Divine Persons possesses.
And now God----not in order to add to His plenitude, but by it to
enrich other beings----extends, as it were, His paternity. God decrees
to call creatures to share this Divine life, so transcendent that God
alone has the right to live it, this eternal life communicated by the
Father to the only Son, and by them to the Holy Spirit. In a transport
of love which has its source in the fulness of Being and Good that God
is, this life overflows from the bosom of Divinity to reach and beatify
beings drawn out of nothingness, by lifting them above their nature. To
these mere creatures God will give the condition and sweet name of
children. By nature God has only one Son; by love, He wills to have an
innumerable multitude: that is the
grace of supernatural adoption.
Realized in Adam from the dawn of creation, then crossed by the sin of
the first of human kind, who drew after him into disgrace all his race,
this decree of love is to be restored by a marvelous invention of
justice and mercy, of wisdom and goodness. The Son of God, Who dwells
eternally in the bosom of the Father, unites Himself in time to a human
nature, but in so close a manner that this nature, while being perfect
in itself, belongs entirely to the Divine Person to Whom it is united.
The Divine life, communicated in its fulness to this humanity, makes it
the very humanity of the Son of God: that is the wonderful work of the Incarnation. It is true to say of
this Man Who is called Jesus, the Christ, that He is God's own Son.
But this Son, Who by nature is the only Son of the Eternal Father, Unigenitus Dei Filius, appears here
below only to become the firstborn of all who shall receive Him, after
having been redeemed by Him: Primogenitus
in multis fratribus.
Alone born of the Father in eternal splendour, alone Son by right, He
is constituted the head of a multitude of brethren, on whom, by His
redeeming work, He will bestow the grace of Divine life.
So that the same Divine life which proceeds from the Father into the
Son and from the Son into the humanity of Jesus, will circulate,
through Christ in all who will accept it; it will draw them even into
the bosom of the Father, where Christ has gone before us, after having
paid, with His blood, the price of this Divine gift.
Hence all holiness is to consist in this: to receive the Divine life
from Christ and by Christ, Who possesses its fulness and Who has been
constituted the one Mediator; to keep this Divine life and increase it
unceasingly by an ever more perfect adhesion, an ever closer union with
Him Who is its source.
Holiness, then, is a mystery of
Divine life communicated and received:
communicated in God, from the Father to the Son by an ineffable
generation; communicated by the Son to humanity, which He personally
unites to Himself in the Incarnation; then restored to souls by this
humanity, and received by each of them in the measure of their special
predestination: secundum mensuram
donationis Christi, so that Christ is
truly the life of the soul because He is the source and giver of life.
Communication of this life will be made to men within the Church until
the day fixed by the eternal decrees for the achievement of the Divine
work upon earth. On that day, the number of the children of God, of the
brethren of Jesus, will have reached its perfection. Presented by
Christ to His Father, the innumerable multitude of these predestined
souls will surround the throne of God, to draw an endless beatitude
from the fountains of life, and to exalt the splendours of the Divine
goodness and glory. Union with God will be eternally consummated, and
"God will be all in all."
Such is the Divine plan in its general outline.
When, in prayer, we consider this liberality and these advances towards
us on the part of God, we feel the need of prostrating ourselves in
adoration, and of singing a song of thanksgiving to the praise of the
Infinite Being Who stoops towards us to give us the name of children.
"O Lord, how great are Thy works; Thy thoughts are exceeding deep!"
Nimis profundae factae sunt
cogitationes tuae. "Thou hast multiplied
Thy wonderful works, O Lord, my God; in Thy thoughts there is no one
like to Thee." "In the works of Thy hands I shall rejoice." "I will
sing to the Lord as long as I live, I will sing praise to my God while
I have my being. Let my mouth be filled with praise that I may sing Thy
glory!" Repleatur os meum laude ut
cantem tibi gloriam tuam.
----------Christ the Life of
the Soul, Part I, Chapter 1, Section 1
II. CHRIST WAS CONSTITUTED OUR
HIGH PRIEST AND OUR MEDIATOR FROM THE MOMENT OF THE INCARNATION
It is especially in his Epistle to the Hebrews that St. Paul
sets forth in broad and strong terms the ineffable greatness of Christ
as High Priest: De quo nobis grandis
sermo et ininterpretabilis ad dicendum.
We herein see His mission of Mediator, the transcendency of His
priesthood and sacrifice above the priesthood of Aaron and the
sacrifices of the Old Testament: the unique sacrifice, consummated on
Calvary, of which the offering is continued with inexhaustible efficacy
in the sanctuary of Heaven.
St. Paul reveals to us this truth that Christ Jesus possesses His
priesthood from the very moment of His Incarnation.
At this moment, the Word is made flesh. The Word is for ever united, by
an ineffable union, to our humanity. Through the Incarnation, the Word
enters into our race, He becomes authentically one of ourselves, like
unto us in all things, excepting sin. He can, then, become High Priest
and Mediator, since being God and Man He can bind man to God: Ex hominibus assumptus.
In the Holy Trinity, the Second Person, the Word, is the infinite glory
of the Father, His essential glory: Splendor
gloriae et figura substantiae ejus.
But, as Word, before the Incarnation, He does not offer sacrifice to
His Father. Why is this? Because sacrifice supposes homage, adoration,
that is to say, the acknowledgment of our own abasement in presence of
the Infinite Being; the Word being in all things equal to His Father,
being God with Him and like Him, cannot then offer Him sacrifice.
Christ's priesthood could only begin at the moment when the Word was
made flesh. At that moment when the Word became incarnate, He united in
Himself two natures: the Divine nature whereby He was able to say: Ego et Pater unum sum us:
"I and the Father are one," one in the unity of the Divinity, one in
equality of perfections; the other, the human nature by reason of which
He said: Pater major me est:
"The Father is greater than I." It is therefore inasmuch as He is
God-Man that Jesus is Pontiff.
Learned authors derive the word "pontiff" from pontem facere: "to establish or build a bridge."
Whatever be the value of this etymology the idea is just as applied to
Christ Jesus. In The Dialogue of St.
Catherine of Siena,
we read that God the Father vouchsafed to explain to her how, by the
union of the two natures, Christ threw a bridge over the abyss that
separated us from Heaven: "I would that thou shouldst look at the
Bridge that I have built for thee in My only-begotten Son, and that
thou shouldst see the greatness thereof, for it reaches from Heaven to
earth, that is, the greatness of the Divinity is joined to the earth of
your humanity. . . . That was necessary in order to restore the
road which was broken and make it possible for man to pass through this
world's bitterness and attain (eternal) life."
Moreover it is through the Incarnation itself that the humanity of
Jesus was "consecrated," "anointed." Not with an outward anointing, as
is done for simple creatures, but with an entirely spiritual unction.
By the action of the Holy Spirit, Whom the liturgy calls spiritalis unctio, the Divinity is
poured out upon the human nature of Jesus, like an "oil of gladness": Unxit te Deus oleo laetitiae prae
This unction is so penetrating, the humanity is so closely consecrated
to God that no closer consecration could be possible, for this human
nature has become the very humanity of a God, of the Son of God. This
is why at the moment of the Incarnation whereby the first Priest of the
New Alliance was consecrated, a cry resounded in Heaven: Tu es sacerdos in aeternum,
"Thou art a priest for ever." St. Paul, whose gaze pierced so many
mysteries, likewise reveals this one to us. Listen to what he says:
"Neither doth any man take the honour (of priesthood) to himself, but
he that is called by God . . . thus Christ also did not glorify
Himself, that He might be made a high priest; but He that said unto Him: Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten
Thee. As He saith also in another place: Thou art a priest for ever. .
So then, by the Apostle's testimony, it was from the Eternal Father
Himself that Christ received the supreme priesthood, from this Father
Who also said to Him: "Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee."
Christ's priesthood is a necessary and immediate consequence of His
He is the Christ, that is to say, the High Priest pre-eminently; "for
was fitting," says St. Paul, "that we should have such a high priest,
holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than
the heavens." But His Father laid upon Him the sins of all mankind: Posuit in eo iniquitatem omnium nostrum.
Jesus became, according to the energetic expression of St. Paul, "sin
for us." Thereby the offering that Jesus made of Himself to His Father,
at the moment of His Incarnation, embraced the poverty of the manger,
the lowliness of the hidden life, the fatigues and conflicts of the
public life, the terrors of the agony, the ignominies of the Passion,
the torments of a bitter death.
Let us adore this holy, immaculate High Priest, Who is God's Own
let us cast ourselves down before this Mediator Who alone, because He
is at once God and Man, can fully realize His mission of salvation and
render to us God's gifts by the sacrifice of His humanity; but let us
likewise confide ourselves to His Divine virtue which, also alone, was
powerful enough to reconcile us with the Father.
----------Christ in His Mysteries, Part I,
Chapter 5, Sections 1-3
II. THE NAME "JESUS CHRIST" SIGNIFIES
HIS MISSION AND CHARACTERIZES HIS WORK
Jesus is the Incarnate Word appearing in the midst or us, at once God
and Man, true God and true Man, perfect God and perfect Man. In Him two
natures are inseparably united in one Person, the Person of the Word.
These traits constitute the very being of Jesus. Our faith and piety
adore Him as our God while confessing the touching reality of His
If we would penetrate deeper into the knowledge of the Person of Jesus,
we must begin by contemplating, for a few moments, His mission and His
work. The Person of Jesus gives value to His mission and work; His
mission and work complete the revelation of His Person.
And it is most noteworthy that the names which designate the very
Person of the Incarnate Word declare at the same time His mission and
characterize His work. These names are not, as is too often the case
with ours, lacking in significance. They come from Heaven and are rich
in meaning. What are these names? They are many, but the Church,
following St. Paul in this, has especially retained two of them: that
of Jesus, and that of Christ.
As you know, Christ means one
who is anointed, sacred, consecrated.
Formerly, under the Ancient Alliance, kings were frequently anointed,
prophets more rarely, and the high priest always. The name of Christ,
like the mission of king, prophet and pontiff which it designates, was
given to several personages in the Old Testament before being given to
the Incarnate Word. But none save Himself could fulfill its
signification in all its fullness. He is the Christ, for He alone is
the King of Ages, the Prophet pre-eminently, the one supreme and
universal High Priest.
He is King. He is so by His Divinity, Rex
Regum et Dominus dominantium; He rules over all creatures
brought out of nothing by His almighty power: Venite adoremus, et procidamus ante Deum.
. . . Ipse fecit nos et non ipsi
He will be so likewise as the Incarnate Word. The sceptre of the
world had been foretold to Jesus by His Father. The Messias says: "I am
appointed king by Him over Sion, His holy mountain, preaching His
commandment. The Lord hath said to Me: Thou art My Son, this day have I
begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the Gentiles for Thine
inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for Thy possession."
The Word became Incarnate in order to establish "the kingdom of God."
This expression often occurs in the preaching of Jesus. In reading the
Gospel you will have remarked an entire group of parables----the pearl
of great price, the hidden treasure, the sower, the grain of mustard
seed, the murderous vine-dressers, the guests invited to the
wedding-feast, the tares, the servants awaiting their master, the
talents, etc.----which group is intended to show the greatness of this
kingdom, its origin, its development, its extension to the pagan
nations after the reprobation of the Jews, its laws, its conflicts, its
triumphs. Christ organises this kingdom by the election of the
Apostles, and the foundation of the Church to which He entrusts His
doctrine, His authority, His sacraments. It is a wholly spiritual
kingdom wherein is nothing temporal or political such as was dreamt of
by the carnal minds of most of the Jews; a kingdom into which every
soul of good will enters; a wonderful kingdom of which the final
splendour is altogether heavenly and the beatitude eternal.
St. John extols the magnificence of this kingdom. He shows us the elect
falling prostrate before their Divine Head, Christ Jesus, and
proclaiming that He has redeemed them in His Blood, out of every tribe
and tongue and people and nation, and has made of them a kingdom to the
glory of His Father: Et fecisti nos Deo nostro regnum.
Christ is to be Prophet. He is the prophet pre-eminently, because He is
the Word in person, the "Light of the World," Who alone can truly
enlighten every man here below. "God. ..spoke in times past. ..by the
prophets," St. Paul said to the Hebrews, but "in these days [God] hath
spoken to us by His Son." He is not a prophet who an- nounces from afar
off., to a small portion of the human race and under symbols, sometimes
obscure, God's still hidden designs. He it is Who, living in the bosom
of the Father, alone knows the divine secrets and makes the wondrous
revelation of these secrets to mankind: Ipse enarravit.
You know that from the beginning of His public life, Our Saviour
applied to Himself the prophecy of Isaias declaring "the Spirit of the
Lord is upon Me. Therefore He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel to
the poor. ..to preach deliverance to the captives, and sight to the
blind. ..to preach the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of
He is, then, the One sent, God's Legate Who proves, by miracles wrought
by His own authority, the divinity of His mission, of His work, and
Person. Thus we hear the multi- tude, after the miracle of the
multiplication of loaves, cry out: "This is of a truth the prophet that
is to come into the world."
It is above all in His capacity of High Priest and Mediator, supreme
High Priest and universal Mediator, that the Word Incarnate realises
the signification of this name of Christ.
But here we must unite the name of Jesus to that of Christ. The name of
Jesus means Saviour: "Thou shalt call His name Jesus," says the Angel
to Joseph, "for He shall save His people from their sins." This is His
essential mission: Venit salvare
Truly Jesus only fully realises the signification of His Divine name by
His sacrifice, in fulfilling His work as High Priest: Venit Filius
hominis dare animam suam tedemptionem pro multis. The two names
therefore complete each other and are henceforward inseparable. "Christ
Jesus" is the Son of God, established as the Supreme Pontiff Who, by
His sacrifice, is the Saviour of all humanity.
We have seen that it is indeed by the Incarnation itself that Jesus was
consecrated Pontiff, and that it was from the moment of His entrance
into this world that He inaugurated His Sacrifice. All His existence
bears the reflection of His mission of Pontiff and is marked with the
characters of His sacrifice.
A profound unity knits all Christ's actions together: the sacrifice of
Jesus, because it is His essential work, is the culminating point
towards which all the mysteries of His earthly life converge, and the
source whence all the states of His glorious life derive their
----------Christ in His Mysteries, Part I,
Chapter 5, Introductory Remarks
1. Strictly speaking, we should say that He is
with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one same Divine nature. Creatures
can only lisp when they speak of such mysteries.
THE IMAGE PLAIN, MEDIUM-----------OUR LADY