Taken From

An Anthology of the Writings of Dom Columba Marmion, O.S.B.

Nihil Obstat: Edward A. Cerny, 5.5., D.D. Censor librorum
Imprimatur: Francis P. Keough, DD. Archbishop of Baltimore
March 17, 1952

A. The Person of Christ


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 nature.]

These 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


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 consortibus tuis. 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 Incarnation.

He is the Christ, that is to say, the High Priest pre-eminently; "for it 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 Son; 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


Christ 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 humanity.

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 nos.

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 reward."
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 quod perierat. 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 splendour.

----------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.