Saturday, 11 April 2009

'Principe indubitable': La résurrection d'un mort est l'ouvrage de Dieu seul

In these days, millions of Christians affirm their belief in the resurrection of Christ and consequently: of the dead.

'Si autem resurrectio mortuorum non est, neque Christus resurrexit. Si autem Christus non resurrexit, inanis est ergo praedicatio nostra, inanis est et fides vestra. (...) Nam si mortui non resurgunt, neque Christus resurrexit. Quod si Christus non resurrexit, vana est fides vestra, adhuc enim estis in peccatis vestris.' (Paulus ad Corinthos I 13-14, 16-17: But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. (...) For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!)

But then what should a good Christian think of the stories of vampires and other revenants? Dom Calmet had this to say in the first chapter of the second volume of his Dissertation sur les Revenant en corps, les Excommuniés, les Oupires ou Vampires, Brucolaques etc. (here in the translation of Henry Christmas):

'Several systems have been propounded to explain the return and apparition of the vampires. Some persons have denied and rejected them as chimerical, and as an effect of the prepossession and ignorance of the people of the countries, where they are said to return.

Others have thought that these people were not really dead, but that they had been interred alive, and returned naturally out of their tombs.

Others believe that these people are truly dead, but that God, by a particular permission or command, permits or commands them to come back to earth, and resume for a time their own body; for when they are exhumed, their bodies are found entire, their blood red and fluid, and their limbs supple and pliable.

Others maintain that it is the demon who causes these revenants to appear, and by their means does all the harm he can both to men and animals.

In the supposition that vampires veritably resuscitate, we may raise an infinity of difficulties on the subject. How is this resurrection accomplished? Is it by the strength of the revenant, by the return of his soul into his body? Is it an angel, is it a demon who reanimates it? Is it by the order, or by the permission of God that he resuscitates? Is this resurrection voluntary on his part, and by his own choice? Is it for a long time, like that of the persons who were restored to life by Jesus Christ? Or that of persons resuscitated by the Prophets and Apostles? Or is it only momentary, and for a few days and a few hours, like the resurrection operated by St Stanislaus upon the lord who had sold him a field; or that spoken of in the life of St Macarius of Egypt, and of St Spiridion, who made the dead to speak, simply to bear testimony to the truth, and them left them to sleep in peace, awaiting the Last, the Judgement Day.

First, I lay it down as an undoubted principle, that the resurrection of a person really dead is affected by the power of God alone. No man can either resuscitate himself, or restore another man to life, without a visible miracle.

Jesus Christ resuscitated himself, as he had promised he would; he did it by his own power; he did it with circumstances which were all miraculous. If he had returned to life as soon as he was taken down from the cross, it might have been thought that he was not quite dead, that there was yet in him some remains of life, that he might have been revived by warming him, or by giving him cordials and something capable of bringing him back to his senses.

But he revives only on the third day. He had, as it were, been killed after his apparent death, by the opening made in his side with a lance, which pierced him to the heart, and would have put him to death, if he had not then been beyond receiving it.

When he resuscitated Lazarus, he waited until he had been four days in the tomb, and began to show corruption; which is the most certain mark that a man is really deceased, without a hope of returning to life, except by supernatural means.

The resurrection which Job so firmly expected; and that of the man who came to life on touching the body of the Prophet Elisha in his tomb; that of the child of the widow of Shunem, who the same Elisha restored to life; that army of skeletons, whose resurrection was predicted by Ezekiel, and which in spirit he accomplished before his eyes, as a type and pledge of the return of the Hebrews from their captivity at Babylon; in short, all the resurrections related in the sacred books of the Old and New Testament, are manifestly miraculous effects, and attributed solely to the almighty power of God. Neither angels, nor demons, nor men, the holiest and most favoured of God, could by their own power restore to life a person really dead. They can do it by the power of God alone, who when he thinks proper to do so, is free to grant this favour their prayers and intercession.'

The illustration is from Picture Book of Devils, Demons and Witchcraft by Ernst and Johanna Lehner (Dover, 1971), where it is credited as taken from a 1470 book called Leiden Christi published by Albrecht Pfister, Bamberg.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...