Mind Aflame

Part II: The Heart of Mersch's Philosophical and Theological Vision

Chapter 3: The Unity of the Human Race


Now that we have an overview of Mersch's great synthesis, we can attempt to penetrate further into the vision that informs it by exploring some of its key ideas.


Chapters VI, VII and VIII of the original manuscript dealt with the philosophical foundations for Mersch's exploration of the mystical body. The editors of the first French edition, as we saw, decided to abridge these three chapters into one, working from chapters VI and VIII of the final draft, and chapter VII from the 1935-1939 version. They felt it would be too long for the reader impatient to get to the properly theological exposition. Fortunately, in 1962 this decision was reversed, and the Museum Lessianum, the publishing arm of the Jesuits at Louvain, decided to make these chapters available in their entirety. Their reasoning was that Mersch showed such a striking originality here that this new publication was well worth doing. They called it Le Christ, l'homme et l'univers: prolégomènes à la théologie du corps mystique, and it contained not only these three chapters, but the two chapters on the consciousness of Jesus, which had been condensed into chapter IV, as well as an undated paper they discovered among Mersch's effects called, "Le sens humain du monde."


We have already seen how Mersch wants to demonstrate that man is "a certain immensity. In his relation to the universe he is more than a part: he is a center, a totality, a culmination." (1) The human soul, in fact, is the "whole universe in miniature." (2)

But the deepest root of this section is to be found in its last part entitled, "The Unity of the Universe in Man Expressed by the Concepts of Matter and Form." Here in little more than a page Mersch lays bare the foundation of our relationship with the universe. This very well may be an example of the kind of scholastic rigor and conciseness that he had hoped to bring to other parts of The Theology of the Mystical Body.

"This union of the world and man can express itself, we believe, in function of the scholastic notions of matter and form." (3) Does Mersch mean to imply that scholastic philosophy has not yet done this, and he is beginning the task? We will not be far wrong if we look at what he has to say in that light.

The human form can be looked at in two different ways. First in an ideal manner in which it is regarded as one of the purely spiritual forms, although "the last among them." (4) The second is as it actually exists, "too imperfect to exist in itself." It needs to be in union with matter and it is restricted or limited or circumscribed (restreinte) by that union in a way analogous to how material forms are limited.

So far Mersch is simply stating traditional scholastic doctrine. The human form is a spiritual form, so it can rightly be seen in relationship to purely spiritual creatures as the last and least of them. But purely spiritual creatures from the moment of their creation immediately grasp their own natures in knowledge and love, and become completely themselves, which is something the human soul is unable to do. Mersch says it is "too imperfect to exist in itself." It lacks the necessary ontological density. It is a spiritual being in potency rather than act. It needs matter to actualize itself, and according to this traditional way of speaking, it is said to be limited by this union with matter.

But Mersch will draw an amazing conclusion from all this. The human form, seen in this ideal fashion, if it could actually exist, "would be equivalent and more in its perfect unity" to all the material forms that make up the universe. The fact that the human form cannot exist in this way leads to the necessity of the existence of these other forms. "The surplus of form which would exist in the first manner is that which expresses itself in the diverse material forms of the universe." They express the riches that would have made up this purely spiritual human form, but since the human form cannot exist in this fashion, all of these things "will exist alongside it, with it in an immense ensemble which constitutes the human universe." There is a "multiplication of forms necessary to express in the fashion of material forms that which is a spiritual form."

The conclusion Mersch draws from this is nothing less than the fact that "the entire universe is an intrinsically human universe and man, even in his spiritual life, is intrinsically cosmic." It is not simply in virtue of our bodies that we are part of the universe. The very universe is an expression of what it means to be fully human. The human spirit, as the last of the spiritual forms, a spiritual being in potency, cannot be all at once what it is meant to be. The universe is created to express the riches of the human soul and to allow it to realize itself. The creation of the human soul demands the creation of the universe, and the one cannot exist or be understood without the other - "the entire universe is an intrinsically human universe."

This is such a formidable insight that it is understandable if we at first glance fail to feel its full impact. Certainly it is based on a whole philosophical tradition, but Mersch, as the fruit of intensive meditation on this theme, is presenting it with a freshness and acuteness it never had before. At one stroke most of the old tension between matter and spirit falls away. (The idea of matter limiting or restricting form is part and parcel of the Aristotelian-Thomistic way of speaking about such things, and it still lingers in Mersch's approach. Matter needs to be rethought from a purely Thomistic point of view, as William Carlo clearly saw, but that is another story.) (5)

Once the old tension between matter and spirit is gone, the path is clear for a truly cosmic view of the human spirit which will prepare the way for Mersch's reflections on the intrinsically social dimension of human beings among themselves which, in turn, will open the way for understanding our union in Christ.


It would not be wrong to see in Mersch's reflections profound analogies to the work of his fellow Jesuit, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Teilhard, a geologist and paleontologist, saw in the evolving universe a basic law of increasing complexity and consciousness so that the universe was destined to lead to the human spirit and the cosmic Christ.

There is even a historical link between the two men. From the days of his novitiate in 1900 Teilhard was a good friend of Pierre Charles, who was later to teach Mersch theology and become his friend, as well. Teilhard would send Charles his typewritten essays, and in 1929 Charles attempted, without success, to have the Museum Lessianum publish Le milieu divine. So Mersch probably knew something of Teilhard's work and, in fact, received a letter from him on the occasion of his publication of The Whole Christ. (6)

But they were men of very different preoccupations and intellectual temperaments, and I don't think that they influenced each other's work. Teilhard, despite his extensive exposure in his Jesuit training, was not drawn to philosophy or theology, but was captivated by a phenomenological vision of the ascent of the universe towards the human spirit and Christ, which was rooted in his own professional scientific work and his deep Christian faith. Mersch was very much the philosopher and the theologian, and so his own vision of the relationship between the human spirit and the universe is a specifically philosophical and theological one. Unfortunately these two approaches to the same reality have not yet been sufficiently integrated.

The heirs of Teilhard like Matthew Fox and Thomas Berry have continued to elaborate his vision, which is so sorely needed today, but they seem to share something of his aversion or indifference to traditional philosophy and theology, no doubt because of the failure of these disciplines to spend much energy developing a cosmic view of Christianity. In contrast, traditional philosophy and theology has been quick enough to point to difficulties in Teilhard's formulations, but less prompt in developing its own vision in this area.

Mersch can provide a bridge and resolve some of the tension between traditional formulations and the "new story" of current creation spirituality, for he has a strictly metaphysical and theological view based on the best of Thomism, of the union of the human spirit with the universe, and through the humanity of Jesus, of the union of Christ with the universe. But this is not a vision he has elaborated with the phenomenological splendor and ecological implications that it deserves, and this is what creation spirituality can provide. Together they hold the possibility of creating a deep Christian view of ecology that will put the Christian community squarely into the ecological movement at a time when the earth and the human race are threatened by our failure to understand that we are both body and soul an intrinsic part of the universe.

CONCLUSION 1: Mersch's ideas on the relationship of the human form to the universe are not only an advance for traditional philosophy, but can resolve some of the tension between this philosophy and creation spirituality so that together they can create a deep Christian ecology.


From the unity of the universe found in the human race we 11now go on to inquire into the unity of man himself." (7) Mersch, in the 1935-1939 draft of this chapter, which was finally printed in its entirety in 1962, makes many observations about this unity and how all of humanity is realized in every human being by means of heredity, language, imagination, memory and intelligence. But once again it is his reflections on the unity of the human race in virtue of the human form and its act that are the most exciting, for they expose the metaphysical root of this unity. His exposition of this topic, incidentally, lacks the conciseness of the preceding chapter, which had benefited from Mersch's final revisions.

The human form, considered in that part of itself which is not realized in concrete human beings, is the reason for the existence of material forms. But what of the human form that is realized in concrete human beings? That is what Mersch wants to examine. (8)

"We begin with a principle that may seem banal; but it has enormous consequences. All men have the same form in the abstract. In itself, this form is transcendent with regard to its concrete realizations. Therefore the latter must be endlessly multiplied in order to convey as well as possible, although always inadequately, the fullness of humanity that is in the form. The conclusion necessarily flowing from this is that the multiplicity of men is at bottom a unity, and that all men are one through their form." (9) The elasticity and dynamism of the human form when considered in the abstract overflowed, as we saw, into the creation of the universe, but its dynamism is not exhausted by that. It expresses itself in an even higher way in the multiplication of concrete human beings. It demands the creation of the whole human race in order to express itself ever more adequately.

But this faces us with a tremendous paradox. Each of us as a spiritual being is alive with consciousness and love, and we exist for ourselves in a unique way. How can we reconcile this uniqueness born out of interiority with the unity of the human race? This is a universal problem with innumerable facets as we attempt to balance the rights of the individual with the rights of society. Once again Mersch is going to search for a solution by taking the more revered principles of Thomistic philosophy on the spirituality of the soul and show how they shed light on the social character of the human spirit. There is in each of us "a unity of humanity, a formal unity of humanity, that is to say, a unity in the form and by the form." (10)

Material forms "have no act of their own and are merely principles by which matter is informed; but the human form, which is able to grasp itself even while it is rooted in matter, has an operation of its own..." (11) The human form has its own existence, and thus it has its own act. (12) According to Thomist philosophy "an act is not limited by itself" (13) so that if it is limited, it is limited from outside. As a result, this form must be at once unlimited and limited: unlimited, so far as it is not received in matter; limited, so far as it is received. The human form, insofar as it is not received by matter, is in some way all other human beings. The human form is at once the very principle from which our self-consciousness and volition arise, and our unity with all other human beings. The same spirit that makes us be for ourselves makes us be for others. The human form "is the reason why the individual in whom it is found is intrinsically one, interior to himself, and capable of bending back on himself... and furthermore, that this individual is intrinsically united to all other individuals and possesses them all within himself through that union and through the interior knowledge and love the union makes possible." (14)

Mersch, with one brilliant stroke, has destroyed the dilemma of the individual versus the community by making the deepest interiority of each of us the link by which we are profoundly united to each other. Human perfection demands that we become deeply and completely ourselves. "Thus it would require that he should be interior to every man and that every man should be interior to him, by the very plenitude that each would possess..." (15)

The very ontological structure of the human spirit demands not only the creation of the whole universe, but the whole human race, and is only in union with the universe and humanity that each of us can realize our deepest potential. If the preceding chapter gave us the metaphysical foundation for a Christian ecology, this gives us the metaphysical foundation for a human ecology, or morality.

CONCLUSION 2: The dynamism of the human form extends not only to the universe, but to all human beings, and makes them one by what is deepest and most personal in themselves.


Mersch is going to bring to a brilliant conclusion these reflections on the dynamism of the human spirit by talking about something rarely ever considered, which is natural escatology, or the natural end of the human race. He admits that such an end cannot actually exist, for we have been raised to a supernatural destiny, but he sees that if we can understand this natural goal, we will gain a deeper understanding of the supernatural unity we have in Christ.

"God, of course, is man's end." (16) But the human race in its fullness is our natural destiny, for it is in that unity we are most united to God. After death the soul is separated from the body. It was in formation, a formation that demanded the body, and now it will fully grasp itself. Act, insofar as it is unreceived, is unlimited. In death the individual human soul is finally fully itself. This means two things. In some mysterious way man "touches and contains within himself the physical universe by containing its center." (17) Secondly, he has "a revelation of his human immensity and of the other human immensities that are interior to themselves and to one another." (18)

The knowledge we have in this life of others is fragmentary, and even the knowledge we have of ourselves is not a direct grasping or vision of the soul by itself, but rather, a reflection on its acts. In death, however, we will have a deeper and more penetrating kind of knowledge. It will be a knowledge from within, a knowledge not of parts, but of wholes. We will fully grasp ourselves. Mersch cites St. Thomas to the effect that the separated soul "will know itself directly, by an intuition of its essence" (19) and will have a perfect knowledge of other separated souls. But he notes that St. Thomas downplays and limits this knowledge and ignores its social aspects. Mersch, however, is enamored by it. He is going to continue the same process we have seen in his two preceding chapters in which he takes fundamental Thomist principles and applies them in a new way. However difficult it is to speak about, he divines that this kind of knowledge must be some sort of communion of consciousnesses. It is a knowledge of within to within. The immensity of what one human being is is in some wonderful way in the order of knowledge an immense communion of subjectivities that embraces the whole human race, and in an analogous way, the whole universe.

But what of our knowledge of God in the state of natural beatitude? The soul "will have a definite, luminous, total knowledge of God so far as he is the cause of man, and so far as knowledge of God is necessary for the perfection of the human intellect." (20) In this life we can attain by reason to a certain kind of knowledge of God, which ascends from the ontological structure of creatures to the affirmation that God must exist. But this knowledge does not deliver God over to us. It is a precious knowledge, but a knowledge at a distance, a knowledge that points to darkness, or more accurately, to a luminous abyss too strong for our minds to fathom. It is a knowledge that knows that the existence of God is demanded by the very nature of created things, and God's proper metaphysical name is existence, the very act to be.

In this hypothetical state of natural beatitude, what will this knowledge become? Mersch has just said that it is a "definite, luminous, total knowledge of God so far as He is the cause of man." What does this mean? Mersch does not linger here. He is hurrying to the properly theological part of his work in which this profound sense of the unity of the human race will become the instrument of exploring the doctrine of the mystical body. He does not turn aside, as he could, to explore further how St. Thomas' teaching on the separated soul developed during the course of the writing of his various works. (21)

1 think there is an interesting possibility of applying Mersch's ideas on our natural end to an area he never considered. If in death we enter into the full self-possession of ourselves, an intuition of our own essences, this is a knowledge that doesn't come from concepts, but is more akin to the knowledge we have in this life through self-awareness even though that kind of self-consciousness is very limited and fragmented. In death, however, this kind of knowledge blossoms, and we grasp the fullness of our natures, but to grasp this fullness we must grasp our deepest center, which is that point at which our very being comes to us from the creative power of God, a power that is continually operative so that we can continue to exist. Is it not logical that in this state of natural beatitude we would see that very center where God grants us existence? It would not be a matter of seeing God as He is in Himself. That is reserved for grace. We cannot have a direct contact with God that would not demand a supernatural elevation. But we can have an experience of God in and through the very existence of the human soul by which we come in contact, somewhat improperly speaking, with the very creative power of God. In this hypothesis we can imagine seeing the deepest center of the human soul aflame with the creative influx of existence. We don't see God directly, but we see Him in an improperly immediate way as He illuminates the innermost fibers of our being by giving us our very existence, an existence which is at once our personal being, our communion with all human beings, and with the universe. This would be a natural counterpart to the beatific vision, and in it we would be dazzled by the immense reality of what it means to be a human being, and we would be led to a great love for the creator of such a marvelous mystery.

If such an exposition of the nature of natural beatitude is correct, we can see that our metaphysical knowledge of God that we can have in this life is but a dim foretaste of it. But perhaps there is another kind of knowledge that is also a foretaste of this vision that comes in natural beatitude, and I think it should be looked for in Eastern forms of enlightenment and natural mystical experience that are to be found in Hinduism and Buddhism. In such cases there is no intuition of the essence of the soul, which is a state reserved for death, but there is a profound knowledge of the soul that goes beyond all conceptual knowledge and in which there is an experience of the existence of the soul as it comes forth from the creative power of God, and God as the author of existence.

This is not the place to make this kind of metaphysical analysis of Eastern mystical experience. Jacques Maritain has opened up the way here and Olivier Lacombe has developed his work in relationship to Hindu thought, and Louis Gardet in regard to Islam, and I have made a beginning in doing so in relationship to Zen Buddhism. '(22) What I am suggesting is that Mersch's natural escatology could be a very important way of understanding Eastern religious thought.

If Eastern mystical experience is in some way a foretaste of natural beatitude, then this view would encourage Christians to see it not as some esoteric and marginal phenomenon, but as an experience of a central human reality. This viewpoint would also help explain how men and women could devote their lives to the attainment of this kind of knowledge, and how it could inspire great cultural developments. Such a view could also help clarify what enlightenment is from a Christian metaphysical and theological point of view.

CONCLUSION 3: Mersch's ideas on the natural end of the human race complete his metaphysical vision of the dynamism of the human spirit, especially in its social dimension, and could open up the way for a deeper understanding of Eastern mystical experience.




In the previous chapter we have looked at the metaphysical axis of Mersch's vision based on the dynamism intrinsic to the human form. Now we have to examine its theological axis, founded directly on the metaphysical, which is the human consciousness of Jesus. First we will look at Mersch's development of this theme more closely, and then examine some of its implications.


This chapter of The Theology of the Mystical Body is, as I mentioned before, much more concentrated than the three that precede it. It functions almost like a summary of the whole book, anticipating what is to come. This effect of concentration and depth was probably enhanced by the fact that this theme had already begun to surface in Mersch's 1917 theological presentation, and he had written about it in a 1934 article in Nouvelle revue théologique, "Le Christ mystique centre de la théologie comme science," but this conciseness is also accentuated by the fact that the 1st French edition has condensed two chapters into one.

Consciousness in its deepest sense must be seen in the light of being itself. It "is a way of existing fully." (1) The more we are the more we know and love and have an interior self-possession of ourselves. "To be conscious, then, is the same as to be." (2) The higher the ontological intensity of a being, the deeper and fuller the consciousness it possesses.

God exists fully, and therefore is fully conscious. Angels are fully conscious of what they are, but not of the mystery of existence that made them be. Human beings do not exist fully either in their forms or in their existence, and their consciousness is accordingly incomplete.

Christ, as a person who expresses Himself, is one person, one subject, one consciousness. But since Christ has two natures, He has "two powers of saying "I" and in this sense He has a two-fold consciousness." (3) It is Christ's human consciousness that Mersch wants to meditate on, his "power of complete reflection or consciousness, without which a man would not be an intellectual being." (4) The whole heart of Mersch's theological work centers on fathoming this unique human consciousness, which is the consciousness of the humanity of the Word of God. It is this human consciousness that is the very "doctrine taught by Christianity." (5)

In short, consciousness is not some chance aspect of being, but is to be identified with existence itself. The more something exists, the greater is its consciousness. The mysteries of Christianity radiate out from the mystery of Christ, and the heart of the mystery of Christ is his human consciousness. Certainly God as Trinity is the source and goal of Christian life, but precisely as a mystery for us, all is contained in Christ's humanity. All the profound and subtle theological work of the subsequent chapters of The Theology of the Mystical Body are meant to allow us a glimpse into this humanity. It is here in this humanity that we discover what it means to be Christians, for we are "intrinsically and ontologically" (6) members of Christ. Christian doctrine is what is the articulation of what we are in our very consciousnesses, for we have a new supernatural being in Christ who has become the very "consciousness of our consciousness." (7) Christ is united to his members "in the substance of their souls where their being is joined to Him and in those intimacies whose voice is their consciousness." (8)


One of the difficulties in examining the theme of the human consciousness of Jesus in Mersch's thought is that we find it almost everywhere under one guise or another, ever spiraling away into the depths and trying to draw us along with it.

At the center of Christian faith is the affirmation of both the divinity and humanity of Jesus, and Mersch wants us not simply to accept these affirmations, but to try to understand them. Jesus must be a true man. If He were not He would not be one of us, still less the very center of the human race. But this humanity is the very humanity of the Word of God. The second person of the Trinity does not change when it takes a human nature, yet this momentous event cannot be without a tremendous impact. The humanity that is assumed is transformed. If it has been traditional to look at the Incarnation from the point of view of the divinity of Jesus, Mersch wants to look at it now from the point of view of His humanity. In this way the Incarnation can be looked at as a "transcendent humanization." (9)

This shift of perspective has some decided advantages. It accords with a modern sense of the human subject, and is humanistic in the best sense of the term. Instead of the Incarnation appearing the least bit alien to human nature, in Mersch's treatment it appears in the very center of human nature, and as its ultimate fulfillment, even though it is a gift beyond the exigencies of human nature taken in itself.

The very person of the humanity of Jesus is the person of the Word, the second person of the Trinity, and so the human nature of Jesus does not find its ultimate center in itself but in the Word. This humanity is not taken up in any mechanical way as if it were some inert object. It is transformed by that assumption so that while it remains a human nature - so that there will be a genuine Incarnation - it is a human nature that takes on an enhanced way of being. This assumption is "the deepest and most intimate reality in it." (10) And it is an assumption that is received by this humanity in its own way. "In the human nature, therefore, there will be something human, something called forth by the divine action, something that will be, so to speak, the received assumption, the passive attraction and joining, the passio unitiva corresponding to the actio unitiva; it will be the terminatio ad Filium." (11)

It is the Incarnation that causes this perfection in the humanity of Jesus, a perfection which is the effect of the union of that humanity with the Word. "The personal unity of the God-man, which makes it absolutely impossible for the human nature to have the slightest personality of its own, nevertheless requires with no less absolute necessity that the human nature should have within itself that which establishes it truly and intrinsically in the unique personality of the Word." (12)

We have arrived at the heart of Mersch's theological vision. In the humanity of Jesus, thus elevated by its union with the Word, he will find the focal point from which to examine all the mysteries of Christianity. This humanity has an entity of union, a special kind of being, which is precisely the being that human nature has when its deepest center is the person of the Word. just as the human body, especially through the eyes, reflects the human spirit because it has "a being of union with the spirit," (13) the humanity of Jesus is flooded and transformed by the new kind of being it receives by being the humanity of the Word. This is a new being that does not make it cease to be a human nature, but perfects it in the very line of humanity so that it becomes a super humanity.

Mersch doesn't try to soften the impact of the affirmation that is at the heart of Christianity: "The man who is Jesus Christ is strictly God." (14) What he does do is to try to help us understand this mystery. Paradoxically, for a man to be God is easier than for a man to be some other kind of creature. If a man were an angel he would no longer be a man, but God is the very author of being so no creature stands in ontological opposition to Him. "God does not exist in a way different than the way man exists, for he does not exist either in one way or in another: he simply is." (15)

The humanity of Jesus is transformed by this union with God. It is an elevation that is at once beyond all the exigencies of human nature, and yet perfectly in line with its deepest structure. As existence makes actual the capacity for existence that essence is, so this union actualizes human nature in its depths. The sun penetrates the crystal of the humanity of Jesus, making it shine with a luminosity that is not its own. "His human nature does not differ from ours except in the intensity of its existence, and that but makes it the more human." (16)

If traditionally Christianity had looked at Jesus' humanity from the point of view of his divinity, it had also emphasized its personal qualities rather than its social dimension. If each human being is one with every other, and with the universe, in virtue of the human form, then what will the God-man be? "As we have remarked, the form in every man has its illimitation in the same measure as it has its act. What, then, will the form be in this Man, who is illimitation and infinity itself?" (17)


All the Christian mysteries can be found in the humanity of Jesus because of the entity of union that this humanity possesses as the humanity of the Word, and ultimately, because of the life this humanity shares in the Trinity. Once again, for Mersch the doctrine of the Trinity is not some esoteric aspect of Christianity that we must simply believe, but the source and goal of all Christian life.

If the ontological structure of things reveals something of the nature of their creator, the mystery of the Trinity reveals the ultimate nature of being. "The dogma of the Trinity reveals to the Christian what Being is in itself." (18)

just as other aspects of theology like original sin, or the nature of redemption, had come to be dominated in various epochs by juridical notions, the very life we have in the Trinity was subjected to similar explanations. In them we somehow have divine life, conferred by the Trinity so that we are adopted sons. But just why and how this takes place and how we actually relate to the Trinity is left in shadow. All the works of the Trinity are viewed as works common to the one divine nature, and thus common to the Trinity as a whole. They are works ad extra. "How are we to conceive the existence of a special and real relation of adoptive sons with the true Son and, through Him, with the Father and the Spirit, Without disregarding the solidly established principle of theology that divine works ad extra are common to the three divine persons? ... In our opinion, scholastic theologians have not solved this problem..." (19)

Mersch will leave the traditional trinitarian formulas intact, yet transform our understanding of them from within. He will distinguish the action by which God wills the Incarnation from its result. The Incarnation has its principle or source of action in the entire Trinity, and so considered in this way, it is a work ad extra. But the humanity of Jesus terminates ad intra in the Son and thus, inside the life of the Trinity.

The being of union that makes the humanity of Jesus the very humanity that terminates in the Son Mersch characterizes as a "drawing to the Word," a "passive conjunction with the Word" (20) and through the Word this humanity is related to the Father and the Holy Spirit. "The sacred humanity possesses, in the Word, all the relations of the Word." (21) But it always possesses them in virtue of its union with the Word, just as the air possesses light by being continually illuminated by the sun.

But if this participation in the Trinity is the deepest mystery of the humanity of Jesus, then through Him it will be our deepest center. "Our incorporation into Him endows our personality with its most intimate and supernatural depths. We are never so much ourselves as when we are in Him, and therefore nothing is so intrinsically ours as what is ours in Him." (22)

Whatever is created by God is a work ad extra and common to the three persons, for it is the creation of a being that is not God. As a result, we cannot reason from created things to God as Trinity. But in the Incarnation the work of creating the humanity of Jesus, while it is a work ad extra, terminates ad intra by this humanity being the very humanity of the Word. In a stroke, Mersch completes the traditional scholastic doctrine, and gives us a new way to look at the humanity of Jesus.

The idea of the entity of union expresses the inner transformation of the humanity of Jesus. But operation follows being. The knowledge Jesus has as a man will be formed by the transformation of his humanity. While theological tradition has refined the notions of person and nature, Mersch realizes that the idea of consciousness remains undeveloped. Jesus is one divine person with both divine and human natures, so He has one consciousness, if that is taken to be ultimate subjectivity, but each nature has its own power of self-reflection and self-consciousness, and in the case of His human consciousness it finds its deepest center in the person of the Word. This human consciousness will express to itself at its deepest level the most fundamental fact of Jesus' humanity, which is that it does not terminate in itself, but in the Word. This knowledge is the beginning and source of Christian revelation, for it expresses the mystery of the Trinity in the human nature of Jesus, and through Him in us. The entity of union gives rise to a "knowledge of union." (23) This knowledge is revelation. "Therefore this is the revelation of revelations; but it is not a doctrine that comes from the outside or a teaching that is wholely exterior. For it is primarily the voice of consciousness, the voice that is even more intimate to the human consciousness of Jesus than His own human nature, the voice by which this humanity, that is one with the Word, expresses nothing but what is in continuity with the act of the Father who utters the Word." (24)

The human consciousness of Jesus stands at the center of the human race, and is the "first principle in the order of human consciousness." (25) It is interior to us, linked with our very consciousness, and it communicates to us that knowledge by which Jesus in His human consciousness realizes His subsistence in the Word, and His participation in the life of the Trinity.

In this way Mersch lays the foundation on the deepest bedrock of Christological dogma for the knowledge we have as Christians. It is not simply a conceptual knowledge coming through the Scriptures, or the teaching of the Church, but a knowledge that is at once interior and exterior. Our incorporation into Christ gives us the ability to discern in the Scriptures and the teaching of the Church His voice. To put it more strongly, we are in a very real way one with Christ, and because of that union, have the ability to see in these conceptual formulations the living mystery of Jesus. "When we know and love a person we recognize him in the sound of his voice, in the way he chooses and accents his words; we catch the vibration of his soul in the vibration of his speech. In the same way they who believe in Christ and love Him and receive His Word in charity, also receive Him, together with the Father and the Spirit." (26)

"For Christ Who teaches these formulas in the Church is identically He who is more interior to Christians than they are to themselves. He is the interior principle of the life they have as sons of God. His voice, which comes from the outside, also comes from within, from those inner depths where He gives them to themselves." (27)


We have looked at the dynamism of the human form, which expresses itself in relationship to the universe, every human being, and the natural beatitude of the human race. This human form is to be found in the humanity of

Jesus, as well, but there it takes on a special intensity, an intensification in the very line of its being because of its union with the Word, an intensification that Mersch calls an entity of union. This means that the humanity of Jesus is the source of a new supernatural dynamism of the human form. There will be a new union of all human beings with each other and with the universe, and a new supernatural destiny and beatitude, all founded on the humanity of Jesus.

These new forms of union are brought about, as I have said, by the entity of union that the humanity of Jesus possesses. But what is the intrinsic character of that entity of union? Mersch describes it under the heading of a "series of theandric realities." The humanity of Jesus has a special relationship with the Word, and through the Word shares in the relationship which the Son has with the Father, and the relationship they both have in breathing forth the Holy Spirit. The humanity of Jesus, in virtue of being the humanity of the second person of the Trinity, possesses a trinitarian entity of union, which is the foundation for a trinitarian consciousness. It is this trinitarian entity of union which intensifies the human form of Jesus so that it becomes the principle for the deeper union we have with each other in Christ and through Christ with the universe, and with the Trinity in the life to come.



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Chapter 4