Theosis, Pastoral Accompaniment, and the Law of Gradualism
July 3, 2020
Back in January the Lord put on my mind and heart an idea for a theological essay that he wanted me to write. I don’t say that lightly here. Never before has something burned within me until I wrote it down. So over the course of several weeks I wrote it and then asked some wonderful people to help me edit, refine, and submit it to different publications. And today it was published in the Homiletic & Pastoral Review.
This essay brings together threads of teachings and ideas from the Catechism, the liturgy, Pope Francis, and my own personal life. It puts the moral law into the context of God’s relentless love for us and his desire to transform us and make us like himself. It’s the fruit of a lot of healing that Jesus has done for me over the past few years in how I view God and his commandments. The Holy Spirit has given me so much life through these teachings that I don’t know how I lived before them. I’m so excited to be able to share them with you.
Here’s the introduction:
It was not until after I finished my undergraduate degree in theology that I was explicitly introduced to the idea of theosis, the doctrine of God making men sharers in his divine life. Based on my personal experience, as well as my experience as a formator of catechists, it appears that this belief is not widely known among Roman Catholics. It was a couple of years after college where I first encountered this doctrine, and it was several years after that, at a retreat I was attending for my certification as a catechist in my diocese, before I understood its significance. Since then, theosis has illuminated every aspect of Catholicism I have studied, including Pope Francis’s teachings about pastoral accompaniment and the law of gradualism. However, much of the commentary on these two issues has been more concerned with the pope’s orthodoxy than seeking to understand and implement his teaching. Therefore, I would like to explore Pope Francis’s pastoral instructions beginning from theosis. This perspective not only roots Francis’s magisterium in the deep theological and liturgical Tradition of the Church, but it also leads to a very personal and practical guide for pastors accompanying others through difficult situations.