The Supernatural

From Fr Holloway's Catholicism: A New Synthesis FAITH Magazine September-October 2007

Perhaps in Christian theology the content of the word ‘supernatural’ has not been thought out deeply enough. We tend to think of it as meaning something that God does or gives above and beyond natural causality. But is this true?

The supernatural order, while it is always gratuitous in relation to what we may naturally expect or claim, is not arbitrary. The truly supernatural is the communication to nature of the Being of God. It is God giving Himself in the supreme degree of what He can bring to fulfilment in that which He has created in His own image. Now the Being of God is wisdom, truth, beauty, goodness and proportion by very definition.

So the communication of the supernatural to nature will perfect nature in a continuous order of truth, wisdom, law and ordered measure. The communication to created nature of what we call the ‘supernatural’ is not something extraneous, therefore, it is the communication of the supreme order of being, by which we mean sheer reality.

It does not take anything at all away from the meaning of the Cross to say that the victory of Christ and of his people through the ages is not simply a reward which is given at the ‘good pleasure’ of the Father. Rather it should be seen as an ‘ontological’ achievement. It is the power and Life of Christ at work in the Church and in the world.

Just as when armies crash against each other, the victory is that of superior power, so also the victory of love and grace against the very real force of evil, is a victory of a real superior force. Evil is overcome by the bringing forth of a superior order of life – of truth, good and beauty which overwhelms it with a perfection of that intrinsically more powerful.

Thinking like this would also give so much more meaning to the idea of ‘vicarious’ offering and intercession in our own spiritual lives. Interior prayer, when it is joined to and prompted by the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ, is not just a pious and good intention which is granted by a kindly and compassionate God, but is powerful in the order of reality

See also - another article by Fr Holloway

Faith Magazine

September - October 2007