A sign of contradiction, in Catholic theology, is someone who, upon manifesting holiness, is subject to extreme opposition. The term is from the biblical phrase "sign that is spoken against", found in Luke 2:34[1] and in Acts 28:22,[2] which refer to Jesus Christ and the early Christians. Contradiction comes from the Latin contra, "against", and dicere, "to speak".

Christ crucified. Jesus Christ who was spoken against, attacked and killed is a sign of contradiction, according to Catholic tradition

According to Catholic tradition, a sign of contradiction points to the presence of Christ or the presence of the divine due to the union of that person or reality with God. In his book, Sign of Contradiction, Pope John Paul II says that "sign of contradiction" might be "a distinctive definition of Christ and of his Church."[3]

The cross and mortification as signs of contradiction edit

Edith Stein, called the Patron of Europe by Pope John Paul II, once taught on the day of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, September 14, 1939:

More than ever the cross is a sign of contradiction. The followers of the Antichrist show it far more dishonor than did the Persians who stole it. They desecrate the images of the Cross, and they make every effort to tear the cross out of the hearts of Christians. All too often they have succeeded even with those who, like us, once vowed to bear Christ's cross after him. Therefore, the Savior today looks at us, solemnly probing us, and asks each one of us: Will you remain faithful to the Crucified? Consider carefully! The world is in flames, the battle between Christ and the Antichrist has broken into the open. If you decide for Christ, it could cost you your life.

— [4]

Views on the cross creates a division: "The division between those whose first love is God, and those whose first love is self – might also be expressed as the division between those who accept the place of the Cross in the following of Christ, and those who reject all sacrifice except it be for personal gain."[5]

The Church and Christians as signs of contradiction edit

The second biblical phrase is from Acts 28:22, quoting a Jew in Rome with whom Paul was talking:

We desire to hear from you what your views are: for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.

According to Catholic theologians and ecclesiologists like Charles Journet and Kenneth D. Whitehead in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic: The Early Church was the Catholic Church,[6] the sect being referred to here by the Jews is the early church of Christians.

The Church and the early Christians, according to these Catholic theologians, are one with Jesus Christ. As an example, they say that when Paul was persecuting the early Church, Jesus Christ appeared to him and said: "Why do you persecute me?"

The passage from the Acts of the Apostles is related to John 15:5–8:[7]

I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

This passage shows the double-movement depending on the two possible attitudes towards Christ: whoever is united to Christ in holiness will rise and bear fruit, while those who are disunited to Christ will fall down and wither.

Pope John Paul II edit

Pope John Paul II in Poland in 1979

A contemporary example seen by many as of a sign of contradiction is Pope John Paul II.[8] His defense of life and the human embryo through unprecedented teachings on abortion, euthanasia, and murder as grave sins in the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, was seen as a sign of contradiction.[9]

Catholic martyrs of the 20th century edit

Writing for Catholic Herald, Robert Royal, president of the Faith and Reason Institute, reported about the results of his research which appeared in his book The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive Global History.[10]

Human beings as signs of contradiction edit

Human fetus at eight weeks. According to Catholics, the debates on abortion make the human embryo and fetus signs of contradiction

Elio Sgreccia, Vice President of the Pontifical Council for Life, said in an article entitled "The Embryo: A Sign of Contradiction":

We need only look at the data bank of bioethical and medical writing on the subject to see how this is so. In the years 1970–1974 more than five hundred works dealing with the biomedical aspect of the question existed, and there were 27 works of a philosophical-theological character. In the years 1990–1994 there were nearly 4,200 works on the biomedical dimension of the subject and 242 on the philosophical-theological aspect of the debate. A quotation from one of the Fathers of the Church, Tertullian: "homo est qui venturus est." [translation: "he who will become man is man"] From the moment of fertilization we are in the presence of a new, independent, individualized being which develops in continuous fashion.[11]

Sign of Contradiction by Pope John Paul II edit

Sign of Contradiction is also the title of Lenten meditations preached by and written about upon the request of Pope Paul VI by Pope John Paul II. The theme of the book, according to one review, is "the human encounter with God in a world that seems to contradict the reality of divine power and love."[This quote needs a citation] Pope John Paul II says in his conclusion that "It is becoming more and more evident that those words (Luke 2:34) sum up most felicitously the whole truth about Jesus Christ, his mission and his Church."

See also edit

Endnotes edit

  1. ^ Luke 2:34
  2. ^ Acts 28:22
  3. ^ Wojtyla, Karol (1979). Sign of Contradiction. New York: The Seabury Press. p. 8. ISBN 0-8164-0433-X.
  4. ^ http://tcrnews2.com/CrossOurLife.html [dead link]
  5. ^ "Light & Life Vol 48 No 2 - A Sign of Contradiction".
  6. ^ "Catholic.net - Catholics on the net".
  7. ^ John 15:5–8
  8. ^ John Cawte. "Pope John Paul II - Influence". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 7 April 2005.
  9. ^ "The Washington Dispatch". www.washingtondispatch.com. Archived from the original on 14 February 2006. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  10. ^ "Catholic martyrs". Archived from the original on 2005-12-02. Retrieved 2005-10-25.
  11. ^ "Mons. Sgreccia Inglese". www.vatican.va.

References edit

  • Wojtyla, Karol. Sign of Contradiction.
  • Woods, Thomas. How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.
  • Quasten, James. Patrology.
  • Carrol, Warren. History of Christendom.
  • Journet, Charles. The Church.
  • Allen, John. Opus Dei: An Objective Look at the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church.
  • Casciaro, Josemaria, et al. Navarre Bible.
  • José Miguel Cejas, Piedras de escandalo