Monday 22nd December 2014

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Divine Revelation: Gradual And Progressive

November 21, 2013 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

We left off last week reflecting on God’s motive for revealing Himself to us in a supernatural manner. In a word, His sole motive was that of boundless love for mankind. God gratuitously and unconditionally chose to “communicate His own divine life to the men He freely created, in order to adopt them as His sons in His only-begotten Son” (CCC, n. 52). In the words of St. Paul, “[God] destined us in love to be His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will” (Eph. 1:5) in order that it might be possible for mankind to satisfy the innate desire for happiness that is written into our hearts and that can only be fulfilled in knowing and loving God far beyond what our natural capabilities permit.
To provide for this, the divine plan that God established “involves a specific pedagogy: God communicates Himself to man gradually. He prepares him to welcome by stages the supernatural Revelation that is to culminate in the person and mission of the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ” (CCC, n. 53).
First, a definition is in order. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, pedagogy is defined as “the art or profession of teaching.” Divine pedagogy, then, is the manner in which an all-loving, all-wise God teaches mankind. It might be thought of as an attribute of God’s wisdom whereby He communicates His salvific plan to mankind in a way that takes into account mankind’s social and cultural conditions, his stages and levels of maturity, his openness of heart, and many other factors.
In a sense, God spoon feeds mankind information about Himself and His loving plan of salvation, little by little, as man is able to assimilate it. Like a wise father raising his children, God “stoops down” to our level and adapts to our needs. As beautifully expressed in the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum (DV), He teaches His people with divine condescension: “In Sacred Scripture . . . the marvelous ‘condescension’ of eternal wisdom is clearly shown, ‘that we may learn the gentle kindness of God, which words cannot express, and how far He has gone in adapting His language with thoughtful concern for our weak human nature’” (DV, n. 13).
God’s loving solicitude in teaching mankind is expressed in the General Directory of Catechesis (GDC) in the following way: “God, wishing to speak to men as friends, manifests in a special way His pedagogy by adapting what He has to say by solicitous providence for our earthly condition” (GDC, n. 146). The GDC goes on later to emphasize that “ineffable kindness, providence and care, and condescension are terms which define the divine pedagogy in Revelation. They show God’s desire to adapt Himself to human beings” (GDC, footnote 453). God has condescended and adapted to our humanity to express divine words in human language. The supreme manifestation of the divine condescension is that God, in the fullness of time, took on our human nature.
Paragraph 53 of the Catechism goes on to cite St. Irenaeus of Lyons, an Early Church Father and Doctor of the Church. He “repeatedly speaks of this divine pedagogy using the image of God and man becoming accustomed to one another,” a process that progressively took place during the entire period of the Old Testament. God, through Old Testament figures and events, lovingly prepares His people at a perfect pace, a pace only He in His infinite wisdom can comprehend, for the ultimate Revelation that would come in the person of Jesus Christ. The Liturgy of the Hours contains a beautiful reflection on the divine pedagogy from St. Irenaeus of Lyon’s treatise Against Heresies in the readings put before the Church during the second week of Lent that is well-worth meditating upon:
“From the beginning God created man out of His own generosity. He chose the patriarchs to give them salvation. He took His people in hand, teaching them, unteachable as they were, to follow Him. He gave them prophets, accustoming man to bear His Spirit and to have communion with God on earth. He Who stands in need of no one gave communion with Himself to those who need Him. Like an architect He outlined the plan of salvation to those who sought to please Him. By His own hand He gave food in Egypt to those who did not see Him. To those who were restless in the desert He gave a law perfectly suited to them. To those who entered the land of prosperity He gave a worthy inheritance. He killed the fatted calf for those who turned to Him as Father, and clothed them with the finest garment. In so many ways He was training the human race to take part in the harmonious song of salvation.”
Another Church Father, St. Augustine, also took up the theme of the divine pedagogy in his classic City of God: “The education of the human race, represented by the people of God, has advanced, like that of an individual, through certain epochs, or, as it were, ages, so that it might gradually rise from earthly to heavenly things, and from the visible to the invisible. This object was kept so clearly in view, that, even in the period when temporal rewards were promised, the one God was presented as the object of worship, that men might not acknowledge any other than the true Creator and Lord of the spirit, even in connection with the earthly blessings of this transitory life” (Book X, chapter 14).
Paragraphs 54 through 64 of the CCC walk us through, in an extremely abbreviated fashion, the “epochs or ages” of the Old Testament. Right from the beginning, God revealed Himself to our first parents and immediately manifested His love: “He invited them to intimate communion with Himself and clothed them with resplendent grace and justice” (CCC, n. 54). And even though Adam and Eve rejected Him through sin, God did not withdraw His self-manifestation. Rather, after the fall, God “buoyed them up with the hope of salvation, by promising redemption; and He has never ceased to show His solicitude for the human race” (CCC, n. 55).
The next stage in salvation history recounted in the Catechism is the covenant with Noah. As summarized by Fr. John Hardon, SJ, “after the flood, God made a covenant with Noah by which the stability of the course of nature against catastrophe was assured. . . . It paved the way for the covenant with Abraham and remained active until the coming of Christ.” The Lord later made His covenant with Abraham who became “the father of a multitude of nations” (Gen. 17:5). From him descended the people who “would be the trustees of the promise made to the patriarchs, the chosen people, called to prepare for that day when God would gather all His children into the unity of the Church” (CCC, n. 60).
“After the patriarchs, God formed Israel as His people by freeing them from slavery in Egypt. He established with them the covenant of Mount Sinai . . . [and] revealed His law to them through Moses” (CCC, nn. 62, 72). It was then through the prophets that “God forms His people in the hope of salvation, in the expectation of a new and everlasting Covenant intended for all, to be written on their hearts” (CCC, n. 64). And so, through a gradual and progressive process of Divine Revelation, God prepared mankind for the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies and promises with the coming of the incarnate Word. As the Letter to the Hebrews tells us: “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world” (Heb. 1:1-2).

+    +    +

(Don Fier serves on the board of directors for The Catholic Servant, a Minneapolis-based monthly publication. He and his wife are the parents of seven children. Fier is a 2009 graduate of Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology. With the full blessing of Raymond Cardinal Burke, Fier is doing research for writing a definitive biography of Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

CACG: Faux Catholic Front Group Still An Outsider?

At Catholic World Report Anne Hendershott revisits the notorious democrat front group, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and gives us an idea of their set of 2016 tricks. Promising yet again to “move beyond partisan and ideological divisions,”…Continue Reading

The Catholic Weakness

A large proportion of traditional, Mass-going Catholics don’t believe basic Church doctrine. Why not? By Maggie Gallagher   Last week I wrote about one piece of data that jumped out from the Austin Institute’s fascinating new study, Relationships in America:…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke . . . “The Church depends on sound Catholic family life, and it depends on sound Catholic families.”

An Interview with Cardinal Burke  On Vatican II Q. Your Eminence, you grew up before the Second Vatican Council. How do you remember those times? A. I grew up in a very beautiful time in the Church, in which we…Continue Reading

Did Pope Francis really say all dogs go to heaven? UPDATED

That nice man, Pope Francis, says you get to see your pets again in Heaven. But Pope Benedict is a mean old Grinch who wants to remove the animals from your Nativity scene Christmas decorations. Oh, really? Please don’t believe…Continue Reading

Catholic Church in Australia links celibacy to child abuse

By Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney, and Nick Squires in Rome 8:04PM GMT 12 Dec 2014 Priests’ vows of celibacy may have led to paedophilia, the Roman Catholic Church in Australia has said, in what is believed to be the first such…Continue Reading

Pope Calls For More ‘Integration’ Of Divorced Catholics, Gays

By Francis X. Rocca Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis said that the Catholic Church must consider various ways to integrate the divorced and civilly remarried in the life of the church — not merely allowing them…Continue Reading

‘I’m not worried’ about resistance, Pope Francis says in new interview

Vatican City, Dec 7, 2014 / 11:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In an interview with the Argentine daily “La Nacion” published Sunday, Pope Francis spoke on a variety of topics, giving specific attention to the ongoing reform of the Roman Curia,…Continue Reading

Catholic Church Severs Ties with Agency over Gay Adoption Ruling

The Catholic Church in Northern Ireland is pulling the plug on a long-standing relationship with the Family Care Society, a Catholic adoption agency, after a judge ruled that all adoption services must be willing to place children with same-sex couples…Continue Reading

Reaction to Chicago archbishop’s remarks on pro-abort pols receiving Communion

n a radical departure from the position of Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Blase Cupich – said to have been handpicked by Pope Francis for Chicago – has presented giving Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians as a positive move. Asked Sunday…Continue Reading

Pope Francis dodges reporter’s question on treatment of homosexuality in Synod’s controversial mid-term report

Since the conclusion of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, reporters around the world have been wondering where Pope Francis stands on the controversial language about homosexuality in the mid-term Synod report.  The opportunity to ask the pope…Continue Reading

Archbishop Cupich Says Yes to Communion for Pro-Abortion Politicians

In October of last year veteran Italian journalist Sandro Magister wrote of the new path that many believed the Church was embarking upon. Magister observed: “In Italy, but not only there, it was the cardinal and Jesuit Carlo Maria Martini…Continue Reading

Francis calls for a change mentality in the Church, easier homilies and flexible times

Francis addresses participants of the International Pastoral Congress on the World’s Big Cities: “Go out and facilitate”, don’t be afraid of multicultural contexts or of proclaiming Jesus DOMENICO AGASSO JR ROME Francis was honest from the start: “I don’t want…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope Francis: Christmas Greetings To Curia

pope703

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the heads and other senior officials of the departments of the Roman Curia on Monday, in their traditional exchange of Christmas greetings. In remarks prepared for the occasion and delivered Monday morning, the Holy Father focused on the need for those who serve in the curia – especially those in positions of power and authority…Continue Reading

Pope: At Christmas Jesus Knocks At The Doors Of Your Heart

POPE701

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday invited the faithful to listen carefully when God knocks at their door. “Too often – he said – Jesus passes by in our lives, he sends an angel and we are so caught up in our thoughts and concerns we do not even notice”. Speaking to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for…Continue Reading

Pope Francis receives John XXIII Community

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received nearly 8 thousand members and associates of the Pope St. John XXIII Community on Saturday. Now recognized as an Association of Lay Faithful, the  Pope John XXIII Community was founded by Fr. Oreste Benzi of the clergy of the Diocese of Rimini in 1968, on the basis of his decade of experience with young people…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: The Church Is Not An Entrepreneur But A Mother

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis said on Friday that there is much sterility within the Church and the people of God, a sterility that comes from power and egoism.  The Church, he stressed, is a mother and not an entrepreneur. His remarks came during his homily at morning Mass celebrated at the Santa Marta residence. The Pope’s reflections on the themes…Continue Reading

To The Infant Martyrs

By MARK AMOROSE (Matt. 2:16-18) Pour out your smiling souls into the sky: Your tongues will learn to speak as spirits fly. Seek not maternal milk from earthly clay: Your sustenance will be the Milky Way. + + + Latin original from Complete Poetry of Richard Crashaw, ed. Geo. Walton Williams. (New York: Doubleday, 1970),…Continue Reading

Anna’s Wish

By DEREK BECHER Anna lay still on her hospital bed, which was tilted slightly upward, while she slept. Her parents sat beside her, with their hands clenched together, sharing a prayer as they watched their only child laboring with each breath. She had only just turned nine, but the brave little girl had fought the…Continue Reading

Cardinal Piacenza To Confessors.. Remember The Priceless Ministry Of Confession At Christmas

VATICAN CITY (ZENIT) — Here is a letter to confessors from Mauro Cardinal Piacenza, major penitentiary, released Gaudete Sunday, December 14. In the letter, the cardinal emphasized that “the time of Advent, and especially the days of the beautiful novena of Christmas, are characterized by a particularly attentive waiting, not only by men for God…but…Continue Reading

Archbishop Of Karachi . . . Says “The Taliban Will Stop At Nothing Now”

By JOHN PONTIFEX LONDON (ACN News) — Innocent people in Pakistan — young and old alike — are now at increased risk of terrorist attack, according to the leader of the country’s Catholics, who has called on the government to step up security in the wake of the Peshawar school massacre. Archbishop Joseph Coutts of…Continue Reading

Ten Complacent Maxims

By DONALD DeMARCO Mark Strand, Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. poet laureate, passed away recently (November 29, 2014). He was a staunch atheist, declaring that he had never met God and had never been to Heaven. He said: “Although there are a lot of people claiming that God is telling them what to do,…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World . . . Let Christmas Joy Overflow The Hearts Of Believers

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Let your prayer for these final days of Advent and for the Solemnity of Our Lord’s holy birth be that our joy might be so great at receiving Him at Christmas that it will be as though we are receiving Him for the first time. His grace is sufficient so as to grant us the…Continue Reading

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity… Didn’t Jesus Have Brothers And Sisters?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 1 “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His Mother called Mary? And are not His brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all His sisters with us?” (Matt. 13:54-57; also Mark 6:2-3). “And His Mother and…Continue Reading

The Canon Of Scripture

By DON FIER Part 2 We ended last week’s installment by showing that the apostles and early Christians accepted the 46-book Septuagint as the authentic Old Testament right from the Church’s beginning. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches, these 46 divinely inspired books constitute “an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture” (CCC, n. 121) and “bear witness to…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Questions And Answers About Christmas Q. Do we know the exact year in which Jesus was born? A. No, we do not. In the sixth century, a monk named Dionysius Exiguus drew up a calendar that fixed the birth of Christ in the Roman year 753, but scholars today agree that Dionysius miscalculated by a few years. So it is…Continue Reading

The Law Of The Lord

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Feast Of The Holy Family (YR B) Readings: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 Col. 3:12-21 Luke 2: 22-40 Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. In a particular way this refers to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. However, it also refers to all families that are striving to live according to the ways of holiness and truth.…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . Blessed Urban V

By CAROLE BRESLIN The year 1309 marked the beginning of the Avignon papacy, under Pope Clement V, who was French. The Popes of Avignon built a papal palace, increasing it in size over the next 70 years. The first crack in the control of the papacy by the French began when Pope Urban V left Avignon to reside in Rome…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Sabbas

By CAROLE BRESLIN Silence. Quiet. The search for peace, serenity, and calm has led many in today’s world to take up Yoga, Eastern mysticism, or life in remote areas to escape the noise of our modern world. This is not a modern quest. The quest for quiet has been with man for millennia. Although St. Anthony the Great (died 356)…Continue Reading

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading