Tangible Lifelines to God’s Strategic Plan for Our Salvation
Investment managers ask a simple and beneficial strategic question with attention-grabbing passion: “Will you have enough money for retirement?” The managers provide reasonable investment advice (but generally avoid the unpleasantries of predicting death according to the actuarial tables). We could use the urgent precision of goal-oriented investment advisors when we direct our attention to our heavenly destiny.
We need God’s revelation to ensure that our strategic plan matches His. We also need to identify and defeat the strategy of our adversary, the Devil. The marital embrace in matrimony and the laying on of the hands in ordination represent the natural and sacramental lifelines to God’s strategic plan to accomplish our salvation.
Let’s consider the four phases of God’s strategic plan.
Phase One of God’s Strategic Plan: Creation
The Bible reveals God as the Creator. After every act of creation, the book of Genesis affirms, “And God saw that it was good.” God’s creative handiwork is irrevocable, holy, and pleasing.
God creates man—male and female—in His own image. He sends them forth with bold and hopeful words: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” God loves babies and human life and wants our cooperation to continue His creative love and extend the reach of humanity.
God created Adam and formed Eve from his rib as his equal. Adam delights in the creation of Eve and joyfully proclaims, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!” (Gen. 2:24) Adam and Eve delight in the gift of the marital embrace. We cooperate in filling the earth with new life through the splendor of authentic human love in the marriage of man and woman.
But the Devil successfully tempted Adam and Eve to rebel against God’s strategic plan for their happiness. Original Sin cripples and distorts the human nature of Adam and Eve and their descendants but does not destroy it. God does not abandon us in the stubbornness of our sins. Throughout the Old Testament, He repeatedly realigns us with His plan for salvation without violating our freedom.
Phase Two: Redemption
In the fullness of time, God sent His Word into the world to show us the way of life. With the sinless cooperation of Mary, the New Eve, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (Jn. 1:14) Jesus is the New Adam. The obedience of Jesus overcomes the effects of disobedience. Jesus elevates the Church above the bonds of families and tribes. He gathered the Twelve Apostles to replace the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Jesus builds His Church on the rock of Peter. He confronts sin—the root of suffering and death—and overcomes the Devil in the Cross and Resurrection. He establishes His New and Everlasting Covenant to restore our heavenly path. His redemptive Covenant purifies, restores, and uplifts the marriage covenant of man and woman.
Phase Three: The New Creation
Jesus promises the Holy Spirit—the Advocate—to elevate and transform human nature with His grace to achieve our strategic goal. On Pentecost, He sends the Holy Spirit upon Mary and the Disciples. Like God’s creation of the universe, the New Creation is wondrous and instantaneous. Pentecost is the birthday of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. The Church uplifts families and nations and brings them into the Mystical Family of God. The Church is not a religious denomination. The Church is the sacramental vessel of the Holy Spirit and the universal Way of Life.
God chooses us to help expand and multiply His New Creation through the Sacraments until the end of time. We have an essential role to play in the survival of the species. The laying on of the hands during ordination tangibly links a priest to his bishop and his bishop back to the Apostles. Every time a priest lays his hands on the faithful in the Sacraments, the recipient is also in touch with the Apostles. Such is the dignity of the priesthood!
Just as the Church guards the integrity of marriage and family to maintain the link to the creation of our first parents, the Church carefully guards and regulates the laying on of the hands in ordination to safeguard the continuity of the Church and her Sacraments. Just as the marital embrace is necessary for the expansion of families and the growth of populations, the laying on of the hands is the tangible Apostolic lifeline of grace that protects the integrity of the Church’s Sacraments. The requirement is so strict that any break renders Holy Orders invalid and (like contraception in marriage) frustrates the Church’s grace-filled expansion.
Phase Four: Salvation
God’s love is not a distant abstraction. St. John sums up the glory of God’s tangible Covenant with His people:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life… and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us… we are writing this that our joy may be complete.” (Jn. 1:1-4)
God’s strategic plan is straightforward: Restore all creation in Christ, the King of the Universe. Matrimony, the fruitfulness of the marital embrace, and Holy Orders advancing the life of the Church throughout history by the laying on of the hands are indispensable to the survival of the species and the continuance of His New Creation. In the mystery of heaven, the more the merrier. Hence, we bring new life into the world and sustain God’s children with the Sacraments.
The family and the priesthood are linchpins of authentic Catholic doctrine and life. The strategic objective of the Devil’s rebellion is to destroy these tangible lifelines to the New Creation. The diabolical game plan is all too familiar: Undermine marriage and the family—and destroy the priesthood.
Let’s make God’s strategic plan our plan. Love God, love neighbor, love marriage, love life, and love the apostolic priesthood. And expect eternal happiness.
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