Saint Worship - Part 13

Now, as all men in the natural order were in Adam, so in the order of grace all are in Christ. All were in Adam generically, and potentially individualized in him, we know: because generation is simply explication, not creation, and secondly, because all have sinned in him and in him incurred the guilt of original sin, as the faith teaches us. The Blessed Virgin, as of the race of Adam, must have incurred original sin generically in him, but she never incurred it individually, or personally, because she was by special grace, or the anticipated application of the merits of Jesus Christ, preserved or exempted from it in the very first instant of her conception, so that she was conceived without original stain – sine labe originali. And therefore her Immaculate Conception forms no exception to the fact that all of our race sinned in Adam; and if all sinned in him, all were in him.

But as all men in the order of generation were in Adam, so are all men in the order of regeneration in Christ, as is plainly implied by the apostle when he says: "As in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive." Entire human nature was assumed by the Word, for our Lord is perfect man as well as perfect God. He assumed humanity, which was individualized in Him as it was in Adam, and hence He is in the order of regeneration "the head of every man," nay the head of every creature; for the whole lower creation, being made for man, is regenerated and returns to God in man. That all are included in Him as included in the humanity He assumed, is affirmed by the fact that He died for all and made ample satisfaction or atonement for all. But He makes atonement for men only as their head, and the passion and cross avail us only as we suffer them in Him, as His members. There is nothing fictitious in the Gospel, and nothing is counted so which is not really so. To live with Christ was must suffer with Him, and to be practically benefitted by His Passion and Cross we must endure them in Him; and that we cannot do unless we are in Him. He redeems, elevates, restores humanity, because He is humanity, and in Him humanity is obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. If all were not included in the human nature assumed, the obedience of Christ could not have sufficed for all, of we can no more obey in Christ if we are not in Him then we could sin in Adam if we were not in Adam. The humanity taken by the Word was as broad, as full, and as entire as the humanity of Adam.

Now, as the Son of God is the mediator of God and men in His human nature, and as the saints are included in that human nature as all men were included in Adam, they certainly are included in the mediator, and therefore are, in a certain sense, mediators; for they only with Him constitute what Saint Augustine calls the Totus Christus. (5)

Yet they are mediators in Him as all men are sinners in Adam, not personally, but generically. Entire humanity was redeemed, regenerated, and glorified in Christ, and entire creation also, as included in man, and was in him, or rather, he in it, the medium of redemption, regeneration, and glorification; but generically, not individually, as all men were included generically, not individually, in Adam. In the natural order the explication of individuals is necessary, and takes place, we have seen, by natural generation; in the order of regeneration it does not take place in that way (for in that order they neither marry nor are given in marriage), but, as I have said, by grace, and they are individually or personally born into that order by the election of grace; but the explication is as real and as necessary by grace as the explication of individuals by natural regeneration. This is why we do not call the saints personally or individually mediators, in the strict and absolute sense of the term. They mediate, not personally, individually, in their own independent right, but in Christ, as included generically in His human nature.

Yet as in neither order is the individual ever without the race, or the race without the individual, the saints, who are individual explications by grace of the human nature assumed [by Christ], and as they have their origin and root in that nature, really do, in a relative and secondary sense, perform a share in the mediatorial work of our Lord; not indeed as first cause, but as second causes. If they did not in some sense share with Christ in His mediatorial work, how could He say to them, "Well done, good and faithful servants; enter into the joy of your Lord"? How could He promise them heaven as a reward? Can He fail in His promises? Or can He reward men for doing what they have not done? Men are not, as the apostle James says, justified by faith alone; and the condemnation of the reformers is that they denied – in denying the merit of good works, and asserting justification by faith alone, and conversion, or regeneration, by the direct and immediate act of the Holy Ghost – the whole mediatorial system revealed to us in the Gospel. Perhaps we are all a little too afraid of asserting in sufficiently strong terms the agency of the creature in the second order, and too prone in our feelings of reverence to separate Christ too widely from His saints, and to isolate the humanity He assumed from our common humanity. We cannot use too strong terms to express the intimacy between Him and the saints, or conceive a closer relation than really exists between His human nature and our own.

I think I have said enough to show that the objection has no force, that it either urges nothing that may not be conceded, or rests on a false principle and a total misapprehension of the real Catholic doctrine of mediation. We cannot place the saints higher than God places them; we cannot give them higher honor than He gives them; and in no possible way can we exaggerate their merits. We cannot, unless we confound them with the divinity, give them too high a worship, or a worship that detracts from that due to God Himself.