Monday, January 9, 2012

DOES GOD SUFFER, PART II






Last week I wondered whether God waits with us; in essence, whether God suffers, too. I thought the answer (for a Catholic) was self-evidently yes, but not at all, and a lively conversation ensued.

Mystery does not mean chaos. Mystery does not mean vagueness. Mystery is never careless of reason. But the movement in mystery is always toward more warmth, not more coldness; toward the Trinitarian incarnate God of the New Testament and away from the distant, capricious God of the Old Testament; toward the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law; toward the heart, not the brain.

Those who think God doesn't suffer seem to believe suffering would somehow minimize God. To me, suffering would enlarge him.

I am a firm believer that if you have to be a scholar to understand the significance of Christ, then he is not Christ. As interesting and useful as it is to tease out the theological underpinnings of the Way, the Truth and the Life, they have got to be available to a simple illiterate fisherman every bit as much as they are available to the philosopher and the theologian. And if the plain meaning of the Word becoming flesh is that he did not suffer with us in some way that is intelligible to us, that can touch, enter into and transform our hearts, then the Crucifixion and Resurrection are meaningless.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit" because the poor in spirit have run out of ideas, not because they have sharpened their ideas to the point where they can give an intelligent exegesis of God. The poor in spirit are crying out in anguish, “Help!” The poor in spirit realize, “I can’t bear this burden any longer.” The poor in spirit quake with the dread knowledge that they have been cast out, or cast themselves out of their place at the human table.

If God doesn't suffer, He can’t rejoice. And that is a God, I, for one, really could not and would not want to believe in.

Were not our hearts burning within us [Luke 24:32]?  If our hearts aren’t burning within us, if we’re not on fire with love, how can we possibly hope to understand the heart of the Father who sent us Christ?


33 comments:

  1. The burning heart: the difference between a St. Anselm or a St. Therese and a Descartes or a Kant.

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  2. And it is a WORLD of difference...according to my Communion and Liberation friend, Rita, Fr. Guissani (founder of CL) said the heart (not the brain alone) was actually the place of reason...Happy New Year, Jason!..

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  3. This is something that needs to be carefully answered, because it's so easy to tip over into heresy (and yes, heresy does matter, the way a decimal point difference in the administration of drugs matters; 100 mg or 1000 mg are not the same thing at all).

    I think, no, God does not suffer (and it is said that the blessed do not suffer the pains of, for example, seeing the pains of the damned and being sorrowed by that, because it would give sin a power it does not deserve if the damned could hurt the blessed).

    On the other hand, the human nature of Christ is fully human and I think - I have no idea what the orthodox theology is on this - I think it is possible for Christ in His human nature to wait, long and all the rest that you say. And if the human nature is fully united to the divine nature, and if the Second Person of the Trinity is fully God, then it may follow that God can in a sense be said to suffer, wait, long, etc.

    I dunno. What kind of language is used in Marian apparitions? Does she not say that God is grieved or that the Sacred Heart is wounded by insults? If so, then God can "suffer" by human actions.

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  4. Heather, my heart is pounding with your passion and your longing and your earnestness as you write this. Yes, I believe too, that as we wail to God with our need and poverty of spirit, we are comforted, in part, because we recognize that He KNOWS. He knows, and finally, we are not alone.

    I also have come to believe that it is exactly because of God's love for us, and because, as Perfect and Holy God, He would never know the kind of personal suffering that humans experience, that He chose to become one of us (I put it that He was content to suffer the humiliation of becoming one of us...) IN ORDER THAT he might experience human suffering.

    and I think that is suffering in every sense: physical pain; grief and loss; and the ache of love from a longing heart. For me, I am comforted that God is now complete in Heaven, still bearing the scars of the wounds he absorbed on our behalf.

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  5. Okay, my turn.

    Christ, the second person of the divine trinity became man, truly human and truly divine. One person, two natures ... fully human and fully divine. This is the unimaginable -- I was going to say imponderable, but pondering is what we're doing here -- point of this whole discussion. He suffered (oh how He suffered) in His human nature. He did not and cannot suffer in His divine.

    There. Clear as mud, right?

    One person and two natures is what we don't understand and what has been the block over which we have stumbled and the goad against we have bitten for the past 2000 years.

    The answer? Our hearts clinging to His Sacred Heart for ever and ever, and (same thing said a different way) obedience to His Church (like Therese, John of the Cross et al).

    Blessings to all, especially you, Heather, for getting this rolling.

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  6. Heather, these words are from an Apostolic Letter on Salvific Suffering written by JPII, I think in 1984:

    "While the first great chapter of the Gospel of suffering is written down, as the generations pass, by those who suffer persecutions for Christ's sake, simultaneously another great chapter of this Gospel unfolds through the course of history. This chapter is [now being] written by all those who suffer together with Christ, uniting their human sufferings to his salvific suffering. In these people there is fulfilled what the first witnesses of the Passion and Resurrection said and wrote about sharing in the sufferings of Christ."

    I can't imagine that God, Jesus, doesn't suffer, and wait, for all of us who stumble, sin, miss the mark, fail in courage to be a witness with our words, thoughts, actions and lives to the mystery of the cross and the resurrection. This does not change Him or his immutable character. It enlarges our grasp of his unfathomable love for us.

    JPII's Apostolic Letter on Suffering can be found on the Vatican website.

    Continued blessings to all who contribute to this conversation, and to you, Heather, for facilitating it.

    John W. White
    Purcellville, VA

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  7. Can't beat JP II's letter, so I'll just redund a bit by saying that our union with Jesus as members of His mystical body is so profound, that there's a sense in which our suffering IS His suffering". True God does not suffer. True, Jesus suffers. Jesus is not two persons. He is one person. A divine person who also has a human nature. Add to this mystery the fact that God is outside of time, and you can't place the passion in an "over and done" file.
    But I'm not a theologian.
    Maybe you can do some online study/commentary on Salvifici Doloris for a bunch of future posts, Heather.

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  8. I forget who said it but I've heard that in order to begin to understand how much God loves us and how much he suffered for us just meditate on a crucifix.

    -Mike

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  10. I understand the difficulty you're having with this subject. I was corrected because I used an incorrect word while describing about a theological truth.

    I've always said that I am an orthodox Roman Catholic, middle of the road, and a person who believes what the Church teaches. Seeing that I was wrong (though not purposefully,) caused me a lot of concern.

    Accepting in humility the truths of the Church can be difficult. Especially when we are required to mend our own thinking.

    But isn't it great to know that we do not know everything? These mysteries continue to unfold and our own never quite perfect understanding continues to grow.

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  11. Hi there Edward, oh I'm not having difficulty; I'm having a blast pondering this mystery! And while I'm open to be corrected, the question of whether or not God suffers, and how, and to what extent, and whether he is capable of or inclined to suffer the way we do, and if so, what that means, and if not, what THAT means--the full ramifications of the Incarnation and the Trinity, in other words, in this case with respect to suffering-- is not a matter of doctrine or dogma (as opposed to the Incarnation and the Trinity themselves). If so, a Capuchin priest wouldn't be pondering it, too.

    So what's really nice, to my mind, is that Catholicism is so broad and roomy. What's really nice is that none of us has a corner on this particular mystery. What's nice is that because we can't directly articulate or get our minds around the human condition, we have art.

    This excerpt from Margery Williams' The Velveteen Rabbit says more to me about suffering, and the way that Christ came to be with us in and to share our suffering, for instance, than any scholarly treatise I've read in a long time:

    The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

    "What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

    “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

    “Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

    “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are real you don’t mind being hurt”...

    Real Body. Real Blood. REAL.

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  12. Two more halves(or so), and new book is done :)...matter of heart...I love your writing...a bit of poetry too:On Good Friday 1938 (St. Edith Stein)
    - Today I stood with you beneath the cross
    And felt more clearly than I ever did
    That you became our Mother only there.

    But those whom you have chosen for companions
    To stand with you around the eternal throne,

    They must stand with you beneath the Cross,
    And with the lifeblood of their bitter pains,
    Must purchase heavenly glory for those souls
    Whom God's own Son entrusted to their care.

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  13. funny that; I was reading that passage today from the Velveteen Rabbit in a book called 'Is it Love or is it Addiction'
    I am enjoying the post....

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  14. something just cross my mind. That you are not ex-lawyer at all, you are passionate lawyer of Chatolicism now

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  15. Heather, this is incredible. This post shows how on fire you are and it's amazing. I believe GOD suffers when we do wrong; but,not in the same sense as humans suffer.

    This part spoke to me as though it were a poem, I could walk into:

    The real difference in the way God suffers and the way we suffer--and to me the whole meaning of the Crucifixion--is that while our tendency/natural impulse is to transmit the suffering, on the Cross Christ transformed it. He absorbed it in a sense. Chris absorbed the suffering of the whole world on the cross and DID NOT SEEK REVENGE, did not make anyone feel guilty, did not succumb to self-pity, reproach, bargaining, rage or despair. While wanting with all his heart for the world to come to him—“O Jerusalem”—he saw that it was not going to, not then.

    He absorbed every unrequited love from the beginning to the end of time, transformed it, and radiated, and continues to radiate, love out to the world that continues to scorn and hate him. He absorbed the most horrific, barbaric violence—state-sponsored/warped-religion violence—and did not respond with violence—not psychological violence, not emotional violence, not spiritual violence, not physical violence. There is nothing soft about that. It is the hardest thing under the sun. It was the reason he came: to love us completely, to want our spiritual well-being completely, to yearn for us to come to him, to come alive, to be born again, to wake up to the glorious beauty and abundance of the world--and when we don't, to not hold it against us: "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do." Forgive them, Father, for they're still asleep, still blind, still paralyzed, still spiritually dead. That has got to be the way God loves and the way God suffers, if he suffers. Because to transform, rather than transmit our suffering, transforms us, everyone around us, and the world.

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  16. David DeAtkine, Jr., MDJanuary 9, 2012 at 7:19 PM

    In Frederich Beuchner's wonderful "The Hungering Dark" he writes:

    "and when someone we loves suffers, we suffer with him, and we would not have it any other way".

    Catholicism's embrace of suffering, rather than avoidance, helped lead me across the Tiber. I'm no theologian, but St Paul himself said

    "I am now rejoicing in my suffering for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church" --Colossians 1:24 RSV

    The idea that even in my suffering I am participating with Christ in some mystical way, in His suffering, rather than just adding to it (though I do that every day as well), has been liberating for me. This idea has a home in the Catholic Church, which has always gloried in its saints who suffer in their seemingly insane love for Christ.

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  17. Cool!! I'm a label on a post! Thank you so much for this, Heather! When I approached the question, I was coming from a place where I very much believed that God suffered, and suffered as we do, and while Mr. Weinandy's article surprised me but his arguments for me were convincing because it just helped me see what I believed in a sort of bigger, broader context - esp that of the tradition of the church. As a friend of mine said recently, the point of it all is not really God's co-suffering - though that is a beautiful part of the story and something we need as humans, I believe, to relate to. The point is really His Love - and I would argue that that in fact is Christ's central characteristic, not His suffering. If it's His suffering, then we've missed the end of the story. His Love, as you said, absorbs it all (I found the description and explanation of how God's love, in all its facets, is always perfectly in action really helpful) and vanquishes evil and death! That's really the good news! I think somehow I was missing that before and focusing more on the fact that I was happy that I had a relatable God (not to reduce your points to that at all - I'm just writing very quickly!) which is good, but really, it's the fact that He won the victory and overcame evil that is most important. If He hasn't, that's really what what would render His suffering meaningless. After all, if He's just a God who suffers with us, then we're all in trouble and how is He God? How can we have hope? I think there is definitely a vanishing point of understanding how His natures intersect but I find no contradiction in saying that He suffered fully as a human being, in His human nature, but that, also His transcendence allowed Him this experience without compromising anything of His divine nature. I think we have to be careful of being more desirous of a God we can relate to and understand than one who really is who He is.
    I do wish the article had expanded more on the suffering in the mystical body of Christ, however...

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  18. Thanks so much for this discussion, everyone! You know what is so amazing? The reason I came across that article in the first place! There is a girl I met who asked about a picture I had on my fb profile of Jesus looking sadly at the earth. She wondered how someone who was supposedly the source of peace and love could experience sadness. I offered to meet her to talk, and realized when researching that it was quite a complex thing, theologically! It was, for me, as Heather said, a blast, learning about it! Moreover, for various reasons, I never could have imagined having this type of conversation with her and was hesitant, initially, but what a gift - and it's spilling out to a wider circle! Could you please pray for her, everyone??

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  19. One final thought!! "I am also a firm believer that if you have to be a scholar to understand the significance of Christ, then he is not Christ." I agree, to a point...but I also think that the point is not so much to understand Christ but to be struck by Him and to want to follow Him. His own disciples weren't always so clear on who He was, only that He was different from anyone they had ever known and wanted to be with Him.

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  20. Alisha, again, thanks--

    A few points of clarification: I said to understand the significance of Christ--which is that he suffers with us, loves with us, lives with us--not to understand Christ himself.

    If we have to draw a mental diagram when we cry out in anguish--let's see, am I praying to the divine part of Christ or the human part of Christ, or the third part of Trinity, or the first part of the Trinity, or what section of the Catechism covers this particular problem, or am I making some deep theological error here?--then we're missing the point. And we're also blocking ourselves from our simple experience, our heart through which God reveals himself.

    I never said God ONLY suffers: in fact, I said if He can't suffer, He can't rejoice, and that is a God I can't and wouldn't want to believe in.

    Nor did I say the chief characteristic of Christ was his suffering--though in a way it was, suffering being in a way the consummation of love. I said suffering was the chief characteristic of humans. And I wondered why, if suffering with us would diminish, rather than enlarge Him, God--who IS love-- should have wanted to unite with us through Christ in the first place.

    Finally, I'm not quite sure how to wonder whether God suffers--when he central emblem of our faith is Christ nailed to the cross--is to manufacture the God I'd like to have rather than to meditate upon the God who actually is. If God nailed to a cross isn't the God we have, I don't know who or what would be.

    And I also think it's high time to quote the closing paragraph of G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy:

    "Joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian. And as I close this chaotic volume I open again the strange small book from which all Christianity came; and I am again haunted by a kind of confirmation. The tremendous figure which fills the Gospels towers in this respect, as in every other, above all the thinkers who ever thought themselves tall. His pathos was natural, almost casual. The Stoics, ancient and modern, were proud of concealing their tears. He never concealed His tears; He showed them plainly on His open face at any daily sight, such as the far sight of His native city. Yet He concealed something. Solemn supermen and imperial diplomatists are proud of restraining their anger. He never restrained His anger. He flung furniture down the front steps of the Temple, and asked men how they expected to escape the damnation of Hell. Yet He restrained something. I say it with reverence; there was in that shattering personality a thread that must be called shyness. There was something that He hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray. There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth."

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  21. Rita Simmonds sent me this link to a piece by Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete called "The Cry of Suffering", http://oldarchive.godspy.com/faith/The-Cry-of-Suffering.cfm.html:

    "Suffering is an expression of human personhood, human transcendence. God's response to our suffering, a suffering with us, respects our identity as individuals. Likewise, the most intimate encounter between human beings is through shared suffering. The communion of life born through shared suffering is the strongest interpersonal communion in the world, breaking down all barriers among human beings, and bringing us together through a bond with transcendence, with "something always greater than us."

    I've read this piece before-is not Monsignor a treasure of the faith?--and reading it again, another thought occurred to me: How could a God of love who nonetheless allows evil and suffering not suffer with us? Christ was his answer, his Word, his pledge that He does suffer with us...He won't take away our free will, by which we impose so much suffering on ourselves and others--but he does suffer with us...

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  22. "If we have to draw a mental diagram when we cry out in anguish--...then we're missing the point."

    I agree. I wouldn't suggest that at all. I wouldn't offer this article to someone in that space and it isn't meant for that, for sure...but I do think if we are pondering it at a time when we are not in anguish, that clarity may help us when we are. If I can hold simultaneously in my mind that Christ suffers in His human nature but that His divinity is not "compromised", I am comforted twice over because a) I am not alone (He has borne my griefs and carried my sorrows) and b) the victory has been won (God is bigger than the suffering, there is a place, a communion of persons where suffering is NOT!). It's true that that is not necessary knowledge to approach the heart of Christ, but it is still valuable.

    "I said if He can't suffer, He can't rejoice, and that is a God I can't and wouldn't want to believe in."

    Why? I'm not sure I understand...If God is pure Love, in whom there is nothing lacking, why would His rejoicing be contingent on His suffering? His very being is Love, which is rejoicing itself, in a certain way...God in the person of Christ shares fully in my pain and sorrow...isn't that enough? A baby who cries wants the parent to fix things more than just cry with them, no?

    "I said suffering was the chief characteristic of humans."

    Sorry, I just realized I misread that!! I'll have to think about that though...my first instinct is that it's not our chief characteristic. Off the top of my head I would say that it is that we are created good, but I'm not sure. It doesn't seem to make sense that if we are created in His image and likeness that suffering be a central thing...but I do think it's the thing that differentiates us from God, which is why He became man: He loved us enough to come and share what He normally does not...this part of the article was what I found most clarifying:

    "For God, then, to be transcendent does not mean that there are certain aspects of His being that are distinct from those aspects of His being that allow Him to be immanent. For the Old Testament, that which makes God truly divine and thus transcendent is that which equally allows Him to be active within the created order and so be immanent. This is the great Judeo-Christian mystery, which finds its ultimate expression in the Incarnation: He who is completely other than the created order can be present to and active within the created order without losing His complete otherness in so doing...It is precisely because God transcends the whole created order of time and history that His immanent actions within time and history acquire singular significance."

    I think basically you are right when you say the key is that to reflect that God suffers is not also to say that He suffers in the same way we do. It's a both/and thing rather than either/or...I just came across this too, which I thought does a great job of dispersing the notion of OT God vs NT God http://www.catholicherald.com/stories/Old-New-Testament-same-God,15204?content_source=&category_id=13&search_filter=&event_mode=&event_ts_from=&list_type=&order_by=&order_sort=&content_class=&sub_type=stories&town_id=

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  23. Stana, I was just thinking the other day, lo and behold, those three years of law school and short stint as a lawyer actually did bear some strange kind of fruit--

    Thanks so much for all these amazing takes/insights, Carie, Erin, John, Daria, Mike, Edward, Denis, Barbara, Dr. DeAtkine, a couple of anonymous folks...I've been inundated this past week with reading tips, links, et cetera, filling me with energy for the New Year...I wish I could to it all and all at once!--paint, compose music, build a house, dig a garden...anyway, so glad you all chimed in...

    Owen, email me at hdking719@aol.com with the link(s) you wanted me to bring to my attention (if you want to). Was swamped yesterday and went to look for them this morn--Happy Tuesday, all..

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  24. Heather--in your 1/9 10:29 pm comment, you (Mnsr. Albacete) summed up, for me, this entire dialogue:

    "...The communion of life born through shared suffering is the strongest interpersonal communion in the world, breaking down all barriers among human beings, and bringing us together through a bond with transcendence, with 'something always greater than us.'"

    I experienced this recently with several loved ones in an extraordinary way:

    In late November, I was in a tiny chapel praying the Rosary. I looked up at Jesus, nailed to the Cross, suffering. I suddenly saw--symbolized in that image of the Cross--my suffering loved one surrounded, because of the smallness of this chapel, by Joseph and Mary; i.e., by a love that was transcendant. What mysteriously unfolded over the next month among several loved ones through shared suffering was a deep, profound connection and interpersonal communion that was not of this world.

    John W. White
    Purcellville, VA

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  25. I think God suffers without anxiety. As beings with imperfect vision, knowledge, and love, we suffer with it.

    Coincidentally, my little group of Catholic philosophy students is having a seminar tomorrow on anxiety: not necessarily the twitchy, nervous kind but the kind that is meant in "protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope . . . " Maybe I'll learn something interesting.

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  26. WOW, after 1) the Velveteen Rabbit citation (which I love, but you stopped just a lttle too soon; when the rabbit wishes he could become real without going through all the pain of being loved...don't we all, particularly when it's God who's loving us) and 2) the reference to not needing to be a scholar to understand Christ.

    Here's one of my favorite Benedict XVI quotes; Every Catholic must have the courage to believe that their faith (in communion with the Church) surpasses every new "magisterium of the experts...of the intellectuals". "It is precisely this reading of the Bible that has given us the saints, who often were uneducated and at any rate, frequently knew nothing about exegetical contexts. Yet they were the ones who understood it best". This coming from one of the most brilliant theologians of our time.

    One more author to recommend to everyone on blog...Takashi Nagai: 3 books, The Bells of Nagasaki, A Song For Nagasaki, and Leaving My Beloved Children Behind. He has a number of insights that relate to this topic, to contextualize my reference...the bomb in Nagasaki was dropped in cloud cover and subsequently drifted as it fell. Ground zero for the explosion was the Catholic district in Nagasaki and at the center of this was the Urikami Cathedral, alongside a Catholic girls school. You better have some kleenex handy as you read his books.

    Notwithstanding the theological experts, I have no doubt that God suffers in ways that we cannot understand or articulate at how his children treat each other.

    Heather, I'm the Dave S who sent Redeemed to his adult son...he's moved to the next phase and is in halfway house. I'll hope and pray to update you with future positive news.

    Dave

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  27. Dave, thanks, so glad to know of another Velveteen Rabbit fan! I read the whole book through, out loud to myself, on New Year's Eve...same William Nicholson illustrations I remembered from when I was a kid...WAAAAAHHHH!...

    Some final thoughts:

    "Christ's compassion toward the sick and his many healings of every kind of infirmity are a resplendent sign that 'God has visited his people' and that the Kingdom of God is close at hand...His compassion toward all who suffer goes so far that he identifies himself with them: 'I was sick and you visited me.'" [Catechism, sec. 1503]

    "Moved by so much suffering Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick, but he makes their miseries his own: 'He took our infirmities and bore our diseases'" [Mt. 8:17]. [Catechism, sec. 1505]

    Suffering is the result of evil, but it is not itself evil--which is why all efforts to eradicate it, deny it, stamp it out, minimize its fundamental centrality to our existence, or distance God from its pulsating, minute-to-minute reality are doomed. We don't have a God who purports to stamp out suffering. We have a God who enters into our suffering: "By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given us a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion." [Catechism, sec. 1505.

    This is the stumbling block, the monumental scandal, the fall-to-our knees glory of our faith...

    The beautiful thing is that therein lies our joy! And the other beautiful thing is that the Catechism is simply a reflection, an articulation of what we know and have experienced in our hearts and lives.

    LOVE the quote from Pope Benedict--St. Therese of Lisieux, to name just one especially bright star in the Church's crown, was the first to say she was no theologian...

    That is fine your son has found his way to a halfway house...blessings and prayers to you both...

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  28. Oh and Adrienne, waiting with or without anxiety...don't get me started! I have already got enough material for about a year's worth more posts from this post alone...thanks again for the email--

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  29. Heather,

    A million times over, I agree with you. There is something absolutely cold and heartless about some theology. It's all head and no heart. Since we are not only brains, we cannot expect that our relationship to God or our 'understanding' of Him will merely be a matter of the mind.

    "The heart has its reasons...," as Pascal said.

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  30. I read recently a book review over at America about a monk's reflections on the Gospel of Mark. It reminded me a bit of the points made here:

    "Fully Human, Fully Divine finds much solace in Mark's so human Jesus (who admits there are some things he does not know; who shows strong human emotions, including anger; who expresses compassion from his very bowels; who from the cross cries out--note: the Greek word Mark used there means something closer to " bellow out like a wounded bull"). Casey comments: "We cannot emphasize enough that the humanity assumed by the Word was not the untainted boldness of Adam before the fall but the shriveled vulnerability we all share. As Bernard of Clairvaux reminds us;' Nothing so demonstrates God's positive attitude toward the human race as embracing my humanity, I repeat, my humanity, and not the flesh Adam had before the fall. What manifests God's mercy more clearly than that he would embrace such misery?'" The danger is that we project on Jesus a kind of perfection that is, in fact, incompatible with humanity. In Casey's view, " much dubious Christology derives from the fact that many of us have trouble accepting the spottiness of our own concrete humanity, and loving what God has thus fashioned."


    http://www.americamagazine.org/blog/entry.cfm?blog_id=2&entry_id=4833

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  31. Oh Patrick, exactly! "Shriveled vulnerability"--the scandal that even WE can't accept, maybe especially we can't accept, is that Christ died for THAT!

    "Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man--though perhaps for a good man one will even dare to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" [Romans 5:7-8]...

    No-one knows this better than a drunk, or this drunk anyway, who has been granted the grace of sobriety. If there is one thing I knew, and still know, it is that the grace was granted through absolutely no virtue or gift or goodness of my own. That is what makes the gift so stupendous, such a stumbling block. You almost want to persuade God that you're not worthy, you're so pulsatingly aware of your unworthiness. And He says, "Oh yeah, I know all about it...come back to the table...you are loved beyond all imagining anyway"...

    Thanks for the link, Godspeed...

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  32. Yes, that whole balance between justice and love (or grace or mercy or gratuitousness) is what sometimes 'scandalizes' my mind and to which I sort of object to out of confusion, as I'm sure you probably confronted yourself in spending a year with St. Therese...

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  33. My head hurts...

    Happy New Year, H.

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