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Faustinus Luciferanus on the Christ

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | May 09, 2005

This evening I had trouble thinking of a suitable topic for News & Notes, so I decided to wait to write until I had done my spiritual reading. Perhaps the Holy Spirit would provide. As it turns out, He provided a deeper understanding of what it means to be the Christ.

I am currently reading 1 Chronicles. This is a priestly text which retells the story of King David's reign with an emphasis on the unity of all Israel under God, the ordering of the people and the priesthood, and the preparations for the building of the Temple. I use the English edition of the Navarre Bible because its excellent commentaries highlight the spiritual meaning of the text and draw on rich sources such as the Catechism, the works of St. Josemaria Escrivá, and, above all, the Fathers of the Church.

Reading today in chapter 29, I was struck by verse 22, which describes how the Israelites anointed David "as prince for the Lord, and Zadok as priest." The commentary notes that anointing did not make them both kings and priests. Rather, some were anointed kings and others priests. Only to Christ does entire perfection and fullness belong, as both priest and king. The word christ, of course, means anointed.

I confess that something drew my attention even more than the text (for such are the workings of an irreverent mind). My eye was caught by the unpromising name of the little-known Church Father to whom the commentary was attributed: Faustinus Luciferanus. Given a name like that, I had to learn more.

It turns out that Faustinus (or Faustus) Luciferanus was a priest who died in the Diocletian persecution of 304 AD. A small section of his treatise on the Trinity is still used in the Office of Readings for the 12th Week in Ordinary Time. It is well worth excerpting here:

"Our Savior received a bodily anointing and so became a true king and a true priest. Both king and priest he was of his very self; a savior could be nothing less. Hear in his own words how he himself became a king: I have been appointed king by God on Zion his holy mountain. Hear in the Father's words that he was a priest: You are a priest for ever in the line of Melchizedek. …

"Those who had been anointed with the oil of kingship or priesthood, although they received only one of these anointings, were called messiahs. Our Savior, however, who is the Christ, was anointed by the Holy Spirit so that the passage in Scripture might be fulfilled: God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness and raised you above your companions. The difference, then, between the one Christ and the many christs is in the anointing, since he was anointed with the oil of gladness, which signifies nothing other than the Holy Spirit.

"This we know to be true from the Savior himself. When he took the book of Isaiah, he opened it and read: The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me. …

"Thus Jesus in his humanity truly became the Christ. By the anointing of the Holy Spirit, he was made both king and priest for ever."

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  • Posted by: ejg257318 - Jun. 20, 2011 9:22 AM ET USA

    A great assist to the readings!

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