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from issue no. 12 - 2009

Archive of 30Giorni

Salvation is communicated by vital contact

by Paolo Mattei

<I>The healing of the woman with the hemorrhage</I>, Catacombs of Saints Marcellinus and Peter, Rome

The healing of the woman with the hemorrhage, Catacombs of Saints Marcellinus and Peter, Rome

On 19 December last, Pope Benedict XVI signed the decree of approval of the heroic virtues of his predecessor Pius XII. This fact immediately brings to mind the defense of the doctrine of faith that the “Pastor Angelicus” made during his pontificate, especially in his encyclicals of dogmatic content.
The article by Ignace de la Potterie S.J. (taken from 30Days no. 1-1997) reproposed in these pages – that describes the way whereby the grace of the salvation of Jesus Christ is communicated to men – can be seen as a commentary on an important section of one of these encyclicals of Pope Pius XII, the Mediator Dei: “This purchase, however, does not immediately have its full effect; since Christ, after redeeming the world at the lavish cost of His own blood, still must come into complete possession of the souls of men. Wherefore, that the redemption and salvation of each person and of future generations unto the end of time may be effectively accomplished, and be acceptable to God, it is necessary that men should individually come into vital contact with the sacrifice of the Cross, so that the merits, which flow from it, be imparted to them. In a certain sense it can be said that on Calvary Christ built a pool of purification and salvation which He filled with the blood He shed; but if men do not bathe in it and wash away the stains of their iniquities there, they can never be purified and saved. The cooperation of the faithful is required so that sinners may be individually purified in the blood of the Lamb. For though, speaking generally, by His painful death Christ reconciled the whole human race with the Father, He wished that all should approach and be drawn to His Cross, especially by means of the sacraments and the eucharistic sacrifice, to obtain the salutary fruits produced by Him upon it” (Mediator Dei, nn. 63-64).
It’s splendid and comforting to note that the word “contact” used in this passage by Pius XII (“vital contact”), was recently repeated by Benedict XVI (in the speech last 30 August to his former alumni and in the Christmas Message Urbi et Orbi) to explain the historical dynamics in which “the merit of His Passion is communicated” to all individuals and to all generations (the decree De iustificatione of the Council of Trent, Denzinger 1523).

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