Fr. Matthew-Anthony Hysell OP

The Two Wills of the Anointed One:

How the Seven Gifts Actualise ‘The Good Life’

Beyond His verbal teachings, how does the human nature of the Incarnate Word model ‘the good life’? In this essay I propose that Christ’s possession of two wills and especially the interaction between these two operations —described in the dogmatic canons as “intimately united” (Lateran Synod, 649), “are not against or contrary to one another” (Roman Synod, 680), “operating in communion with the other,” with the human will “compliant” and which “submits” to the divine will (Constantinople III, 681)—is an overlooked dimension of Christology but one that helps to unlock the meaning of Christian ethics that moves beyond moralism or, worse, casuistry.

Principally within the framework of Aquinas’ Biblical commentaries I will argue that Christ’s “obedience” to the Father is precisely ‘christic,’ that is, the operations of the Seven Gifts in His soul brings the obedientialis potentia to that perfect actuality whereby Christ’s “perfect humanity” (cf «τέλειον τὸν αὐτὸν θεόητι», Chalcedon, 451), is concomitant of His accidental holiness. Not only as ‘capital grace’ does the anointing of the Head overflow to the Body (cf Ps 132:2 LXX) but the enduring tangibility of the Incarnation means that members of the Body ‘see’ by faith the Exemplar of the graced and therefore good life.

As a consequence of this, I will argue that Dyotheletism understood within the nexus of the Septenary displays Christ as the “icon” (cf Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15) par excellence of ‘the good life’ which, in turn, adds urgency to the Church’s mission: “Missionary activity is closely bound up even with human nature itself and its aspirations. For by manifesting Christ the Church reveals to men the real truth about their condition and their whole calling, since Christ is the source and model of that redeemed humanity” (Vatican II, Ad gentes, 8).