15 May, 2010

Discussion with "chris g" about the meaning of "anamnesis" vs "remembrance"

(chris g) Thank you for sending me the link to your blog. I read it, and disagree with your position.

(Cristoiglesia) You’re quite welcome and I am pleased to address your disagreements.

(chris g)Where do you get the idea that "anamnesis" means that a "miraculous event that transcends time" occurs, and that this is what the word "really" means? Is it your church traditions?

(Cristoiglesia) Of course it is not Church traditions that is the only reason to believe in the truly, real and substantial Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord as it is the teaching directly from our Lord and from the original disciples of our Lord maintained as the deposit of truth from the very beginning of the Church founded at Pentecost. The Church has been in total agreement with this teaching and did not receive substantial disagreement until Ulrich Zwingli in the 16th century argued for a real absence of Christ in the Eucharist and sought to change it from a Sacrament introduced by our Lord to a mere exercise or as some call it an ordinance. The other rebellious Protestants were reluctant to accept Zwingli’s teaching but eventually it prevailed among the majority of Protestants because of the obvious problem the new syncretic blend of Secular Humanism and Christianity and that was, that there was no valid clergy or teaching authority in the new Protestant movement. They had to find new man-made heretical doctrines to be a bulwark against the fullness of truth contained in the Catholic Church and adopted the heresies of the Solas, Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide and Sola Christi. Such a departure from orthodoxy made it possible and necessary to reject the foundational and fundamental teaching of the Church, which is the miracle of anamnesis, and deny the truly real and substantial Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord from their worship replacing it with an exposition of Scripture and allegorical interpretation of God’s Word instead. Instead of worshiping the corporeal Christ they worshiped mans opinion of God’s Word exposed by men without any God given authority to teach. It is not surprising that there are exponentially increasing heresies to match the exponentially increasing schisms within their body. Essentially it is a movement of division within the Corpus Christi which by these fruits it is fair to assume that this is not from God but from the author of confusion and lies. So, actually the reason that you do not accept “anamnesis “ is at least to some substantial degree because of Protestant traditions taught by Ulrich Zwingli and his followers in their protest of the teaching of Christ and the disciples in an effort to give some credibility to their new desperate syncretic movement.

In Koine Greek the literal meaning of “anamnesis” is the “loss of forgetfulness” and comes from Platonian philosophy. It does not mean to recall a past event in one’s life as does the word “remembrance” (Luke 22:19). Certainly for that to be the meaning one would no longer be able to remember after a generation or two remembrances would be impossible. That is why Jesus said to the disciples that His teaching in John 6 could not be discerned with the carnal senses which would pass away with time but that this teaching was eternal and must be discerned with the knowledge from the Spirit instead for perpetuity or at least until Jesus returns again to judge mankind and unite our soul with our glorified bodies. Some Protestant exegetes are forced to understand Jesus’ teaching at the Synod in Capernaum in a very strained, twisted and awkward way saying that Jesus said the flesh will profit nothing suggesting that He really was not teaching that what we understand that we are to eat and to drink is not His truly real and substantial Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Such is an utterly an absurd interpretation following Jesus saying that one must eat His Body and drink His Blood to have eternal life.

How can anyone with intellect and reason conclude that Jesus had just do anything else but contradict the teaching that He had labored so succinctly to explain to the point that those who were His disciples but the twelve left Him never to follow Him again. He convinced them of the literalness of His words but they could not imagine by knowing that what Jesus was commanding of the faithful was to separate themselves or be cut off from the familial relationship of the Old Covenant under the Mosaic laws that forbid the drinking of blood.

Their leaving proves that they understood Jesus literally as did the 12 disciples. Jesus admitted to the twelve that this was hard teaching as they were aware of the teaching of Moses as well. Jesus did not go into another explanation saying that He was speaking allegorically but instead did not deny the literalness of His teaching even to the twelve. Instead He told them that this understanding would come from their spiritual senses rather than the carnal which is the true and only logical meaning of the flesh profits nothing. Surely it does profit if it must be eaten for eternal life as is the only logical understanding. Jesus said to the twelve that remained, Do you wish to leave also and St. Peter answered, “Where else shall we go as you have the words of eternal life”. Their spiritual senses or “anamnesis” that they drew upon kept them from leaving. What Jesus taught would be clearly and fully understood from the cross in due time when the disciples would truly experience a “loss of forgetfulness”. For truly the twelve had a prepared conscience from eternity for them to draw upon that was not unlike the law that God circumcised on everyone’s heart.

As Plato described “anamnesis” it is a prepared spiritual knowledge just as Jesus called the listeners at Capernaum to draw upon which is an intuitive knowledge that in Christian theological understanding means that it is knowledge placed in the human conscience (as defined by Pope Benedict XVI in “On Conscience: Two Essays by Cardinal Ratzinger. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007”) before becoming the Pope who said that the central anthropological and ontological meaning of conscience is anamnesis) that we can draw upon for understanding the miracles of God and thus accepting them even without reason or intellectual affirmation. Plato lacked the fullness of understanding in that he erroneously believed in reincarnation as the source of this knowledge instead of God being the source through imputation. Plato was correct in believing that the soul is immortal.

If it was not for this prepared conscience man could not even believe in God as the Holy Spirit bringing one to faith would have nothing to appeal to for this faith. Faith does not come from intellect or reason although faith is not devoid of these faculties but from a prepared conscience that can respond to the Spirit of God.

The miracle of anamnesis is that we can call on the knowledge that has been placed in our eternal soul by God. As Jesus said in John 6 the flesh profits nothing but the Spirit reveals all.

(chris g) Nowhere in the Bible does God teach such a thing. Heb. 10:3 uses a similar variation of that same word speaking of the animal sacrifices; in which God plainly tells us that the sacrifices did nothing but forshadow the true sacrifice of Christ. Or are you saying that those animal sacrifices once a year were "miraculous events that transcends time", even though God plainly says, "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." Yes, the sacrifices were significant, but not miraculous. In this same way is the "remembrance" of the Lord's Supper. Certainly significant and important, but not transubstantiation.

(Cristoiglesia) What this is speaking of is that these sacrifices of the law of the Old Covenant were only types and figures of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Only the sacrifice of Christ can take away the sins of mankind. However the same miracle was present and that is the ability to draw upon the law in their spiritual sense as Jesus spoke of in Capernaum in reaching a proper understanding. Their remembrance or more definitive “anamnesis” is the miracle of the divine knowledge of sin placed on their immortal soul. The Old Covenant Jews recognized sin as a result of “anamnesis” just as the New Covenant perfected Jews or Christians recognize the really true and actual Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord. Thus, the reason that you and other Protestants do not recognize it is because you refuse to accept it with your Spiritual senses but remain in a carnal understanding preventing “anamnesis”. As St. Paul said, one must discern the Body and Blood of our Lord to receive the blessed Sacrament lest they bring condemnation on themselves for receiving in their carnal sense.

(chris g)You seem like a very nice person. I'm sorry that you have abandoned the grace of Jesus for another gospel; a system of collaborative works that you and God perform for the security of your soul.

(Cristoiglesia) Well thank you for the compliment. You seem nice as well even though you refuse the communion of Christ’s own Church that Jesus prayed that we all have unity within as He and the Father are one. I have not abandoned grace but came into the fullness of grace and truth that Protestants like you refuse and do not even desire. Being obedient to Christ and His Church and indeed collaborating with His will does not give us security but only by His grace are we saved as it is by His grace and our gift of “anamnesis” that we even respond to His grace.

(chris g)It seems that you are not able to recieve Jesus' own words concerning His "flesh and blood".

John 6:65 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

Cristoiglesia) Obviously as I have already explained such an interpretation as yours in regards to this statement of Jesus is classic eisegesis. How can you reconcile that the “flesh profiteth nothing” when Jesus previously said that it gave us eternal life? Quite a contradiction in Christ’s teaching that your eisegesis has created, don’t you think?

(cris g) I see that you claim to have once been protestant and I wonder why you left?

(Cristoiglesia) The short answer is that I grew in faith and knowledge of God’s Word. But the more complete answer is as follows:

Truly an example of the truth of Scriptures says one of the most basic things about our relation with our creator; it is the fact that He has endowed everyone with an innate knowledge of His will. In the OT and in the NT we learn of God’s preparation of our souls to receive him when the Scriptures speak of the law being written on the hearts of each of us, Buddhist, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic, Baptist, Jehovah Witness, Church of Christ and Mormon. It does not matter. Even the animist in the deepest rain forest knows of God and is drawn to His will. Missionaries will tell you of the common phenomenon of those who they come to minister to and preach the Gospel to these people of them being miraculously prepared to receive His Word and do His will. This law on our hearts is a portal where we can receive Him through the Holy Spirit and the forum from which our spirit can receive His Spirit. This is why the Orthodox speak of knowing where the Church is but not where it is not. This is why the Catholic Church speaks of salvation from outside the Church, but not without the Church and Christ being possible including the different ways the Spirit of God comes into ones life through Baptism. One cannot escape the Spirit of God drawing him to His Church for eternity anymore than one can live by escaping oxygen to animate their flesh in the world. Doing God’s will is what we are created to do and through His Word and the Church, we know that His will is that we be one and come to Him as children, just as we are into His Church, wherever and however that knowledge reaches our soul.

It seems that for many of us who are Christians that there are stages that the Holy Spirit takes us through. In my apologetics work I see this time and time again and I even experienced it in my own long journey home to the Catholic Church. It seems that for many that they have an abiding love for our Savior and a fire to do His will which defies being quenched. This hunger or burning desire cannot be satiated in that we always desire more of God, more of His love, more of His knowledge and more of His grace in our lives. This is not a selfish hunger or desire but one of doing His will by His Spirit being one with ours. It is this desire to do His will that makes us wanting when we are not in communion with His Church for the fullness of understanding His Word, for the fullness of worship and the fullness of His presence in our life. It is a completeness of our Spiritual journey safe in the bosom of His Church from the lies and deceit of the world from the angel of darkness.

As the Spirit draws us to His Church by bringing us ever closer, our spirit cooperates with the Spirit of God and we become angry in our flesh and lash out at the destiny of God’s will which is His Church. There comes a struggle from within where we resist this calling. We may go through a period where we struggle to deny the teachings of the Church, searching the Scriptures to find contradictions and our itching ears may seek out and find those who reinforce our hatred for the Church for others this search is more private but just as intense. Having no success at proving the Church false with Scriptures and realizing that what we started by our search to reinforce our doubts of his Church has instead only made us question our own beliefs. This makes us even angrier, for many of us this means abandoning beliefs that we have held our whole lives which are the beliefs of our ancestors which is very frightening. This is hard teaching by the Spirit which we struggle to accept or to deny.

Reflecting on this I think of those in the first century who came to the Church from diverse backgrounds both Jew and Gentile that must have faced the same struggles. Indeed the Scriptures give us the example of Saul’s conversion experience where a man filled with hatred was humbled by the miraculous might and love of God on the road to Damascus. Did he love God any less as a Pharisaical Jew or just more truly as a Christian coming within God’s will? I believe his love remained the same but that on that road to Damascus he came into the fullness of God’s will in his life. Here, in St. Paul, we have the example one of the Church’s most ardent persecutors becoming its most faithful and prolific missionary and changing the world by doing God’s will, not in hatred for another but in the love he found in His conversion. God worked through him in inspiration to add to His Word and bring into understanding the New Covenant to the world.

When we fail in our personal efforts to reinforce our desire for the Church to be false by studying Scriptures we then turn to history of the early Church and study the teaching of the fathers and the proclamations of the Church councils. Surely, we think, this will prove that our suspicions of Christ’s Church are true. These are the men, some of whom were trained by the disciples of our Lord, who were closest to the incarnate Word. But to our dismay we instead find that studying their teaching and their beliefs still points to the veracity of the Church. Some during this process may even suggest that Christ’s Church became apostate later but then at some point we are forced by the Spirit , if we are so blessed by His grace, to reflect on Christ’s promises to His Church which reveals that our desire to find apostasy can only be false, if we embrace the truth of His Word. For, it is not His Word that denies His Church, as some would claim, but instead that convicts our spirit of the Church’s veracity. For a time we may become even more angry and start to pray about what we have learned and ask for God’s guidance to the truth expecting God to show us what we have missed or overlooked in our study that will convict us once and for all of the apostasy of the Church and the falseness of the Church’s teaching. Instead, for those with ears to hear and a continuing desire through God’s grace we go through the most humbling experience of our lives where we must come to reality that through our pridefulness that we have remained for so long in denial of the truth and God’s will that we unite with His Church.

I think that this process is the culmination of the prayer that so many of us made to God when we were called and convicted into His service, whether layman or clergy. It was a prayer for Him to use us for His glory, for so many of us after our conversion become apologists and reach out to others to encourage others to study the Scriptures and the history of the Church and be empathetic to what the Bible reveals about the faith of the first Christians, which were Catholic in every sense of the word and Word.

Catholics only love their enemies but one may observe that the hatred only moves in one direction and probably occurs for at least two reasons. For those still on their journey home they are waiting for their personal epiphany as was received by St. Paul but I am reminded of what Jesus said to St. Thomas:

(Joh 20:29 DRB) Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen and have believed.

For some that epiphany will indeed come when Christ will stand before us and allow us to put our fingers within His wounds and will be blessed. Others of us come to Him as children, surrendering completely to Him and are blessed to release our pridefulness and with humbleness, accept His truth, His promises and His Church.

Why does hatred only move in one direction, for me it is because I see those hating the Church as being on the same journey as I? I was once where they were, thinking I hated the Church when in fact I was fighting against the Spirit moving in my life. I failed to recognize that I was being blessed. In the process I have learned more than anything else that it is impossible to love God and His Church and at the same time to hate those who despise His Church. Perhaps it is the fullness of faith, of worship or practice but most probably the exercise of His greatest commandment to love for all humanity for as He loves us we are to love others. The greatest expression of this love and the fruit of our conversion is the antithesis of our flesh which is to love our enemies. For, it is written, the Christian is to love even those who hate His Church. May the Lord bless us all?

In Christ,
Fr. Joseph