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Consubstantial – The Mystery Described With Precision

Surfers, the new roman missal launched November 27, 2011 across the USA. Were you ready? Did you manage to get all of the changes memorized before the launch? Did you complete all the catechesis you needed to grapple with the new words? Incarnation? Consubstantial? I believe I can still help.

I know what you are saying to yourself; this blog is written by an angry nut job, so how can he help me? Well, help is a relative word.

Lean a little closer to the screen… A little closer… Good, just between you and me the kind of help I am referring to is to make you uncomfortable with the decisions of the Bishops. They are not always working for your best interests.

This blog post will take up the word consubstantial. It is a tough word to wrap your mind around. I would like to tell you about a book you can purchase that may help you with understanding the word, and some catechesis. The book was co-authored by a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. This may help you decide to purchase it, or not.

Cardinal Wuerl [The Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the Tradition Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl (Author), Mike Aquilina (Author)] and his co-author asserts: the phrasing of our translation was changed to make it reflect the historical creeds with greater accuracy. Some of the terms – like ‘consubstantial’ and ‘incarnate’ – are taken from the unfamiliar and technical language of theology. But no other words describe the mysteries with such precision. The Father and the Son are of the same substance. The Word took flesh – became incarnate. Through repeated, prayerful profession over the course of a lifetime, we make such words our own, and we make the faith our own.” (130-31) While I agree with the above, I believe it must be said that in the past, and this reveals itself to a degree in the present translation, there was some effort to bring understanding to the faith by “dummying down vocabulary rather than taking time, sometimes a great degree of time explaining the depths of the mysteries of faith to the degree it is possible.
Fr. Brian McWeeney

The word consubstantial was originally used to describe who is Jesus. As a little insight to your catechesis, who Jesus really was, or is, had not been formally decided with any word until some 300 years after his death. No matter what the Bishops might allude to, or what your Parish Priest is homilizing, it has been well documented that the Church leaders fought bloody battles to decide the nature of Jesus. Some of you are saying that this is old news, but others are saying: What? Surely from the Apostles on down we knew Jesus was God? How we are taught to see Jesus today is very different from the way the early Christian Church saw Jesus. Our understanding evolved over time, and the word consubstantial plays a huge role in our understanding today.

… And the debate in the New Testament is how that God got into Jesus. And it is fascinating, you know, we today think that those issues are very clear, but Paul says, and he writes to Romans about 57 / 58 [CE]. He says God made Jesus the Son of God at the time of the resurrection. That’s a very interesting idea. It would be called heresy in orthodox circles today. You come to Mark, who writes in the 70’s [CE] and Mark said God enters Jesus in his baptism, the heavens opened and the spirit descended. Mark assumes He is fully human until He’s infused with the Holy Spirit.
– John Shelby Spong

If this information on the evolution of our understanding of the nature of Jesus is new to you please spend some time learning more about this topic. Getting a better grasp of how we arrived at this point will help you understand the changes made to the Roman Missal in 2011.

Spend a little time with the Holy Spirit to discern just how much information you really want to uncover. Feel free to go to your Parish Priest and ask him when Jesus was first defined as consubstantial with God. The Priest should know, and as part of his pastoral ministry he has an obligation to discuss these questions with you. Don’t be surprised if he says he does not know, or does not want to discuss this with you, because he is not getting the support he needs from the Bishops. I am not letting him off the hook, but the Bishops are still trying to manage the pedophile scandal. The Bishops foisted these textual changes upon the Church and provided some books and videos on the changes but they did little or no real preparation with the parish Priests who will be left to their own devices when answering these questions.

Are you one of the folks who are frustrated with the changes in the Missal? There is a grass-roots effort to hold off the changes to the Roman Missal until more can be done to make the language better understood. Consubstantial is one of the word changes being protested. Sign your name to voice your concerns.

Stay tuned to this blog for more info on changes in the Catholic Church.

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About neodecaussade

I am a Roman Catholic quester. You will find that I have scripture based academic interests. You will discover that I am a conservative Catholic but I am also prone to heterodox tendencies. I am versed in highly pietistic traditionalist practices but I am not a traditionalist. I am interested in entering a discussion on the future of the Roman Catholic Church. I would like to have a role in discussing how the future Church will be shaped.

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