The "Hypostatic Union" is a mystery which can be difficult to understand. Essentially, Jesus Christ is a single Person; the Divine Person of the Logos (Word of God), the second Person of the Holy Trinity. Jesus Christ also has a human nature by his birth in Nazareth to His mother Mary. The Church declares the following relative to the operations that occur between the Divine nature and the human nature:
It is through the Hypostatic Union that Jesus could accomplish things which His Divine Nature could not (as God, Jesus could not die, however, by the use of His human will He could choose to willingly suffer and die a real death), as well as things which His human nature could not accomplish by itself (for example, the many miracles He performed while on earth).
- Christ Incarnate is a single, sole Person. He is God and man at the same time.
- Christ as God is connected with the flesh by an inner, physical or substantial unification - Christ is not the container of God but is God in reality.
- The human and the divine activities predicated of Christ in Sacred Scripture and in the writings of the Fathers may not be divided between two persons or hypostases, the Man-Christ and the God-Logos, but must be attributed to the one Christ, the Logos become Flesh. It is the Divine Logos, who suffered in the flesh, was crucified, died, and rose again.
- The Holy Virgin is the Mother of God due to the fact that she truly bore the God-Logos become flesh.
|Divine Revelation (Scriptural Proof)|
- 14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
- 5For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. (Philippians 2:5-7)
|Catechism of the Catholic Church|
- 467 The Monophysites affirmed that the human nature had ceased to exist as such in Christ when the divine person of God's Son assumed it. Faced with this heresy, the fourth ecumenical council, at Chalcedon in 451, confessed:
Following the holy Fathers, we unanimously teach and confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man, composed of rational soul and body; consubstantial with the Father as to his divinity and consubstantial with us as to his humanity; "like us in all things but sin". He was begotten from the Father before all ages as to his divinity and in these last days, for us and for our salvation, was born as to his humanity of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. We confess that one and the same Christ, Lord, and only-begotten Son, is to be acknowledged in two natures without confusion, change, division or separation. The distinction between the natures was never abolished by their union, but rather the character proper to each of the two natures was preserved as they came together in one person (prosopon) and one hypostasis.
- 468 After the Council of Chalcedon, some made of Christ's human nature a kind of personal subject. Against them, the fifth ecumenical council, at Constantinople in 553, confessed that "there is but one hypostasis, which is our Lord Jesus Christ, one of the Trinity." Thus everything in Christ's human nature is to be attributed to his divine person as its proper subject, not only his miracles but also his sufferings and even his death: "He who was crucified in the flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ, is true God, Lord of glory, and one of the Holy Trinity."
|Ecumenical Council Documents|
- General Council of Ephesus (431)
- Second letter of Cyril to Nestorius
- "We too ought to follow these words and these teachings and consider what is meant by saying that the Word from God took flesh and became man. For we do not say that the nature of the Word was changed and became flesh, nor that he was turned into a whole man made of body and soul. Rather do we claim that the Word in an unspeakable, inconceivable manner united to himself hypostatically flesh enlivened by a rational soul, and so became man and was called son of man , not by God's will alone or good pleasure, nor by the assumption of a person alone. Rather did two different natures come together to form a unity, and from both arose one Christ, one Son. It was not as though the distinctness of the natures was destroyed by the union, but divinity and humanity together made perfect for us one Lord and one Christ, together marvellously and mysteriously combining to form a unity."
- "The Word is said to have been begotten according to the flesh, because for us and for our salvation he united what was human to himself hypostatically and came forth from a woman . For he was not first begotten of the holy virgin, a man like us, and then the Word descended upon him; but from the very womb of his mother he was so united and then underwent begetting according to the flesh, making his own the begetting of his own flesh."
- "So we shall confess one Christ and one Lord. We do not adore the man along with the Word, so as to avoid any appearance of division by using the word "with". But we adore him as one and the same, because the body is not other than the Word, and takes its seat with him beside the Father, again not as though there were two sons seated together but only one, united with his own flesh. If, however, we reject the hypostatic union as being either impossible or too unlovely for the Word, we fall into the fallacy of speaking of two sons ."
- General Council of Chalcedon (451)
- Definition of the faith
- "So, following the saintly fathers, we all with one voice teach the confession of one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man , of a rational soul and a body; consubstantial with the Father as regards his divinity, and the same consubstantial with us as regards his humanity; like us in all respects except for sin; begotten before the ages from the Father as regards his divinity, and in the last days the same for us and for our salvation from Mary, the virgin God-bearer as regards his humanity; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten, acknowledged in two natures which undergo no confusion, no change, no division, no separation ; at no point was the difference between the natures taken away through the union, but rather the property of both natures is preserved and comes together into a single person and a single subsistent being; he is not parted or divided into two persons, but is one and the same only-begotten Son, God, Word, Lord Jesus Christ, just as the prophets taught from the beginning about him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ himself instructed us, and as the creed of the fathers handed it down to us."
- 2nd General Council of Constantinople (553)
- Anathemas against the "Three Chapters"
- "7. If anyone, when speaking about the two natures , does not confess a belief in our one lord Jesus Christ, understood in both his divinity and his humanity, so as by this to signify a difference of natures of which an ineffable union has been made without confusion, in which neither the nature of the Word was changed into the nature of human flesh, nor was the nature of human flesh changed into that of the Word (each remained what it was by nature, even after the union, as this had been made in respect of subsistence) ; and if anyone understands the two natures in the mystery of Christ in the sense of a division into parts, or if he expresses his belief in the plural natures in the same lord Jesus Christ, God the Word made flesh, but does not consider the difference of those natures, of which he is composed, to be only in the onlooker's mind, a difference which is not compromised by the union (for he is one from both and the two exist through the one) but uses the plurality to suggest that each nature is possessed separately and has a subsistence of its own: let him be anathema."
- "8. If anyone confesses a belief that a union has been made out of the two natures divinity and humanity , or speaks about the one nature of God the Word made flesh, but does not understand these things according to what the fathers have taught, namely that from the divine and human natures a union was made according to subsistence , and that one Christ was formed, and from these expressions tries to introduce one nature or substance made of the deity and human flesh of Christ: let him be anathema
- General Council of Trent (1545)
- THE EXCELLENCE OF THE MOST HOLY EUCHARIST OVER THE OTHER SACRAMENTS
- "1. This has always been the belief of the Church of God, that immediately after the consecration the true body and the true blood of our Lord, together with His soul and divinity exist under the form of bread and wine, the body under the form of bread and the blood under the form of wine <ex vi verborum;> but the same body also under the form of wine and the same blood under the form of bread and the soul under both, in virtue of that natural connection and concomitance whereby the parts of Christ the Lord, who hath now risen from the dead, to die <no more>, are mutually united; also the divinity on account of its admirable hypostatic union with His body and soul ."
|Papal Encyclical Documents|
- Quas Primas (1925) - In the First - Pius XI
- "13. The foundation of this power and dignity of Our Lord is rightly indicated by Cyril of Alexandria. "Christ," he says, "has dominion over all creatures, a dominion not seized by violence nor usurped, but his by essence and by nature." His kingship is founded upon the ineffable hypostatic union . From this it follows not only that Christ is to be adored by angels and men, but that to him as man angels and men are subject, and must recognize his empire; by reason of the hypostatic union Christ has power over all creatures ."
- Lux Veritatis (1931) - The Light of Truth - Pius XI
- "29. For we are taught, by Holy Scripture and by Divine Tradition, that the Word of God the Father did not join Himself to a certain man already subsisting in Himself, but that Christ the Word of God is one and the same, enjoying eternity in the bosom of the Father, and made man in time. For, indeed, that the Godhead and Manhood in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of mankind, are bound together by that wondrous union which is justly and deservedly called hypostatic , is luminously evident from the fact that in the Sacred Scriptures the same one Christ is not only called God and man, but it is also clearly declared that He works as God and also as man, and again that He dies as man and as God He arises from the dead.."
- Ad Caeli Reginam (1954) - Queen of Heaven - Pius XII
- "34. As We have already mentioned, Venerable Brothers, according to ancient tradition and the sacred liturgy the main principle on which the royal dignity of Mary rests is without doubt her Divine Motherhood. In Holy Writ, concerning the Son whom Mary will conceive, We read this sentence: "He shall be called the Son of the most High, and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end," and in addition Mary is called "Mother of the Lord"; from this it is easily concluded that she is a Queen, since she bore a son who, at the very moment of His conception, because of the hypostatic union of the human nature with the Word , was also as man King and Lord of all things."
- Haurietis Aquas (1956) - Draw Waters - Pius XII
- "21. That all may understand more exactly the teachings which the selected texts of the Old and New Testament furnish concerning this devotion, they must clearly understand the reasons why the Church gives the highest form of worship to the Heart of the divine Redeemer. As you well know, venerable brethren, the reasons are two in number. The first, which applies also to the other sacred members of the Body of Jesus Christ, rests on that principle whereby we recognize that His Heart, the noblest part of human nature, is hypostatically united to the Person of the divine Word. Consequently, there must be paid to it that worship of adoration with which the Church honors the Person of the Incarnate Son of God Himself. We are dealing here with an article of faith, for it has been solemnly defined in the general Council of Ephesus and the second Council of Constantinople."
- "30. Assuredly, when He who is the only begotten of the Father and the Word made flesh "full of grace and truth" had come to men weighed down with many sins and miseries it was He alone, from that human nature united hypostatically to the divine Person , Who could open to the human race the "fountain of living water" which would irrigate the parched land and transform it into a fruitful and flourishing garden."
- "41. Hence, since there can be no doubt that Jesus Christ received a true body and had all the affections proper to the same, among which love surpassed all the rest, it is likewise beyond doubt that He was endowed with a physical heart like ours; for without this noblest part of the body the ordinary emotions of human life are impossible. Therefore the Heart of Jesus Christ, hypostatically united to the divine Person of the Word, certainly beat with love and with the other emotions- but these, joined to a human will full of divine charity and to the infinite love itself which the Son shares with the Father and the Holy Spirit, were in such complete unity and agreement that never among these three loves was there any contradiction of or disharmony."
- Dominum Et Vivificantem (1986) - The Lord and Giver of Life - John Paul II
- "For the "fullness of time" is matched by a particular fullness of the self- communication of the Triune God in the Holy Spirit. "By the power of the Holy Spirit" the mystery of the "hypostatic union" is brought about-that is, the union of the divine nature and the human nature, of the divinity and the humanity in the one Person of the Word-Son ..."
|Fathers and Doctors of the Church Documents|
- De Fide (378) - Of Faith - Ambrose
- Book I - "91. Furthermore He said, "to My God and your God," because although He and the Father are One, and the Father is His Father by possession of the same nature, whilst God began to be our Father through the office of the Son, not by virtue of nature, but of grace-still He seems to point us here to the existence in Christ of both natures, Godhead and Manhood,-Godhead of His Father, Manhood of His Mother, the former being before all things, the latter derived from the Virgin. For the first, speaking as the Son, He called God His Father, and afterward, speaking as man, named Him as God ."
- Book II - "58. When we read, then, that the Lord of glory was crucified, let us not suppose that He was crucified as in His glory. It is because He Who is God is also man, God by virtue of His Divinity, and by taking upon Him of the flesh, the man Christ Jesus, that the Lord of glory is said to have been crucified; for, possessing both natures, that is, the human and the divine , He endured the Passion in His humanity, in order that without distinction He Who suffered should be called both Lord of glory and Son of man, even as it is written: "Who descended from heaven."
- Book III - "59. Perchance you will ask how I came to cite, as referring to the Incarnation of Christ, the place, "The Lord created Me," seeing that the creation of the universe took place before the Incarnation of Christ? But consider that the use of holy Scripture is to speak of things to come as though already past, and to make intimation of the union of two natures, Godhead and Manhood, in Christ, lest any should deny either His Godhead or His Manhood ."