Reflections on the Family Tree from the Theology of Cardinal Ratzinger By Father Stefan

Reflections on the Family Tree

Cardinal Ratzinger in his book “Eschatology,” gives some beautiful and profound thoughts on the healing of the family tree. The book offers many different views of healing of the family tree. While Cardinal Ratzinger never uses the term, “Healing of the Family Tree” I believe the idea is there.

To begin with, Cardinal Ratzinger gives a lengthy quote from Origen, “In writing to the Hebrews, after enumerating all the holy fathers who were justified by faith, he adds. ‘These, all of whom received the testimony of faith, did not attain the promise, because God has provided for something better for us so, that they should not be made perfect without us.’ Do you see, then? Abraham is still waiting to attain perfection. Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets are waiting for us in order to attain the perfect blessedness together with us. This is the reason why judgment is kept a secret, being postponed until the Last Day. It is ‘one body’ which is waiting for justification. ‘one body’ which rises for judgment.’ ‘Though there are many members, yet there is one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, I do not need you.’ Even if the eye is sound and fit for seeing, if the other members were lacking, what would the joy of the eye be?”

“You will have joy when you depart from this life if you are a saint. But your joy will be complete only when no member of your body is lacking to you. For you too will wait, just as you are awaited. But if you, who are a member, do not have perfect joy as long as a member is missing, how much more must our Lord and Saviour, who is the head and origin of this body, consider it an incomplete if he is still lacking certain of his members?… Thus he does not want to receive his perfect glory without you: that means, not without his people which is ‘His body’ and ‘His members.’”

Ratzinger reflects on this by saying, “When we die, we step beyond history. But this does not mean that we lose our relation to history: the network of human relationality belongs to human nature itself. History would be deprived of its seriousness if resurrection occurred at the moment of death.”

Ratzinger writes in another place, “Every human being exists in himself and outside himself: everyone exists simultaneously in other persons. What happens in one individual has an effect upon the whole of humanity and what happens in humanity happens in the individual. The Body of Christ means that all human beings are one organism, the destiny of the whole the proper destiny of each.”

I will elaborate on more thoughts of Cardinal Ratztinger in his book, “Eschatology” in a future blog but for now what Cardinal Ratzinger is saying is that Salvation is never a private mater. Eternity only truly begins when the whole Body of Christ is saved.

Ratzinger says something interesting, he asks the question, “How can a mother who has died be fully happy is one of her children is still suffering on earth?”

One of the themes that I have gleamed from the writing of Cardinal Ratzinger is his emphasis on the importance of the Body of Christ.

At the Masses of the Healing of the Family Tree people bring there Family Trees and we place them at foot of the altar. We offer the mass for the intentions that the Lord will touch all the members of our family because our salvation and healing are intertwined with theirs. As the poet say, “No man is an island.”

I put it this way: the party of eternity will not fully begin until we are all there.

Let us pray for one another
Fr Stefan

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