Viu Porque Procurou

24.07.2012

Dia 22 de Julho foi a memória litúrgica de Maria Madalena. Este ano a festa coincidiu com o domingo e, portanto, acabou por não ser celebrada. Quem se lembrou? Quem não se esqueceu da discípula que não queria esquecer Jesus?

O texto que a Liturgia das Horas propõe para a celebração é profundamente tocante, desenvolvendo a ideia de que ela viu Cristo numa nova vida, ressuscitado, por não ter desistido. Viu porque procurou, porque não abandonou o seu amor por ele. É um excerto de uma homilia do Papa Gregório Magno datada do séc. VI:

Maria Madalena, quando chegou ao sepulcro e não encontrou lá o corpo do Senhor, julgou que alguém O tinha levado e foi avisar os discípulos. Estes vieram também ao sepulcro, viram e acreditaram no que essa mulher lhes dissera. Destes está escrito logo a seguir: E regressaram os discípulos para sua casa. E depois acrescenta-se: Maria, porém, estava cá fora, junto do sepulcro, a chorar.

Estes factos levam-nos a considerar a grandeza do amor que inflamava a alma desta mulher, que não se afastava do sepulcro do Senhor, mesmo depois de se terem afastado os discípulos. Procurava a quem não encontrava, chorava enquanto buscava e, abrasada no fogo do amor, sentia a ardente saudade d’Aquele que pensava ter-lhe sido roubado. Por isso, só ela O viu então, porque só ela ficou a procurá-l’O. Na verdade, a eficácia das boas obras está na perseverança, como afirma também a voz da Verdade: Quem perseverar até ao fim será salvo.

Começou a buscar e não encontrou; continuou a procurar e finalmente encontrou. Os desejos foram aumentando com a espera e fizeram que chegasse a encontrar. Porque os desejos santos crescem com a demora; mas os que esfriam com a dilação não são desejos autênticos. Todas as pessoas que chegaram à verdade, conseguiram-no porque lhe dedicaram um amor ardente. Por isso afirmou David: A minha alma tem sede do Deus vivo; quando irei contemplar a face de Deus? Por isso também diz a Igreja no Cântico dos Cânticos: Estou ferida pelo amor. E ainda: A minha alma desfalece.

Mulher, porque choras? Quem procuras? É interrogada sobre a causa da sua dor, para que aumente o seu desejo e, ao mencionar ela o nome de quem procurava, mais se inflame no amor que Lhe tem.

Disse-lhe Jesus: Maria! Depois de a ter tratado pelo nome comum de “mulher”, sem que ela O tenha reconhecido, chamou-a pelo nome próprio. Foi como se lhe dissesse abertamente: “Reconhece Aquele que te conhece a ti. Não é de modo genérico que te conheço, mas pessoalmente”. Por isso Maria, ao ser chamada pelo seu nome, reconhece quem lhe falou; e imediatamente lhe chama “Rabbúni”, isto é, “Mestre”. Era Ele a quem procurava externamente e era Ele quem a ensinava interiormente a procurá-l’O.

A New Female Doctor of the Church

16.07.2012

The Benedictine nun Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) joins Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Jesus (or Avila), and Thérèse of the Child Jesus (or Lisieux). On 7 October 2012, Pope Benedict XVI will declare her the 35th Doctor of the Church. Hildegard wrote letters, explicative essays, treatises, and accounts of her mystical visions. She also wrote penetrating and powerful poems such as this one:

No creature has meaning
without the Word of God.
God’s Word is in all creation, visible and invisible.
The Word is living, being,
spirit, all verdant greening,
all creativity.
This Word flashes out in
every creature.
This is how the spirit is in
the flesh — the Word is indivisible from God.

Thomas Aquinas and the Limits of Our Talk About God

11.07.2012

I would only note that what might in a general way commend Thomas Aquinas’ arguments is that they are simultaneously the demonstration that God exists and that we could not possibly know what it means to say that God exists.

DENYS TURNER, “Marxism, Liberation Theology and the Way of Negation”

Being Catholic

10.07.2012

Adam Kotsko, author of Žižek and Theology (New York: Continuum, 2008) and Politics of Redemption: The Social Logic of Salvation (New York: Continuum, 2010), explains why he is a Catholic this way:

This is what keeps me coming back to mass every week: I simply cannot go a week without receiving the Lord in communion. God’s grace works in an infinite number of ways, but I firmly believe that communion allows us to participate in God’s grace in a way that is unaccessible to us by any other means. It is not just a memorial; it is not just a reenactment: no matter how you think it happens in a metaphysical sense, it is a participation in Christ. It is a taking into oneself of everything that Christ has for us. No song, no sermon, nothing can ever hope to take the place of that.

In conclusion, I am Catholic because the Catholic Church is the place where the Eucharist is celebrated. Take away all the trappings of authority and doctrine, and that is what you have: a congregation gathered to celebrate the Eucharist. Church is many things, but Church is at its best and anticipates the life of heaven the best when it celebrates that sacrament that is so many different things at once. That sacrament is ultimately why I became Catholic and it is why I am still Catholic.[1]

Of course, the Orthodox believe and practice the same thing, but Kotsko’s main point still stands. I would just add that, if the Eucharist is so central to us, then it has to have real consequence in our lives. Timothy Radcliffe wrote a whole book to address the question: why go to church?[2] The answer he found is simple: we go to church to be sent from it. In communion with God, we are sent to contribute to “justice and peace in conformity with divine wisdom”.[3]

______________________

[1] Adam Kotsko, “Why I Am Still Catholic”, pars. 6-7, http://kotsko.tripod.com/why.htm.
[2] Timothy Radcliffe OP, Why Go to Church?: The Drama of the Eucharist (New York: Continuum, 2008).
[3] Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 2419.

Eckhart

09.07.2012

God is constantly speaking only one thing. God’s speaking is
one thing. In this one utterance God speaks the Son and at the
same time the Holy Spirit and all creatures.
MEISTER ECKHART, OP

Eckhart von Hochheim was born circa 1260 in Gotha, now part of Germany, and died around 1327. He is usually know as Meister (Master) Eckhart. As a theologian, philosopher, and mystic, Eckhart is a towering figure in the Order of Preachers. Dominicans wish to follow Jesus as a preacher, which means modeling themselves on the creativity of his language. It is no surprise then that many of them have encountered resistance within the Church — even Thomas Aquinas, now generally considered the greatest Catholic philosopher and theologian, was opposed by Stephen Tempier, the bishop of Paris. Eckhart was tried by Pope John XXII and his defence became famous for his rational and clear responses and his refutation of any heretical intent. He passed away before the sentence was announced.

When Timothy Radcliffe was Master of the Dominicans he pressed for Eckhart’s full rehabilitation and the confirmation of his theological orthodoxy from the Holy See. In a letter to the chairman of the Eckhart Society sent in 1992, Radcliffe wrote that “we tried to have the censure lifted on Eckhart and were told that there was really no need since he had never been condemned by name, just some propositions which he was supposed to have held, and so we are perfectly free to say that he is a good and orthodox theologian.” A sign of this approval was Pope John Paul II’s audience in September 1985 in which he remarked

Did not Eckhart teach his disciples: “All that God asks you most pressingly is to go out of yourself [...] and let God be God in you?” One could think that in separating himself from creatures, the mystic leaves his brothers, humanity, behind. The same Eckhart affirms that, on the contrary, the mystic is marvellously present to them on the only level where he can truly reach them, that is, in God.

Meister Eckhart has also been a significant inspiration for the theological thought of Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, particularly in the understanding of the faithful’s union through the life of Christ.

Eckhart’s meditations (exemplified here, here, and here) have many points in common with other religious traditions. Hindu and Buddhist scholars in particular have explored these connections. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, a distinguished Hindu philosopher from Sri Lanka, wrote a fundamental book on Hinduism and Buddhism[1] that draws heavily on Meister Eckhart. The first part of the book concentrates on Hinduism and opens with a quote from him:

The sacred scriptures state everywhere that man should be emptied of himself. When you are emptied of yourself, you are the master of yourself; when you are the master of yourself, you possess yourself; when you possess yourself, you are possessed of God and all that He has ever made.

It is not all. The second part focuses on Buddhism and begins with two other quotes:

In your judgment, what has made it possible for you to reach the eternal truth? — It is because I have abandoned my self as soon as I have found it.

[...] those who are not liberated are afraid of the deep joy of those who are liberated. No one is rich of God, unless he is entirely dead to himself.

Thinking of the Dominican influence on the Second Vatican Council it is clear that the statements that we find in Nostra Aetate, the declaration on the relation of the Church to Non-Christian religions, about the enlightening truth of Hinduism and Buddhism (and Judaism and Islam) are inseparable from Eckhart’s penetrating teachings. Here are some excerpts from his sermons to mull over:

Though it may be called a nescience, and unknowing, yet there is in it more than all knowing and understanding without it; for this unknowing lures and attracts you from all understood things, and from yourself as well. (German sermon 1)

The soul is scattered abroad among her powers, and dissipated in the action of each. Thus her ability to work inwardly is enfeebled, for a scattered power is imperfect. (German sermon 2)

No. Be sure of this: absolute stillness for as long as possible is best of all for you. (German sermon 4)

You should know that God must act and pour Himself into the moment He finds you ready. (German sermon 4)

Do not imagine that your reason can grow to the knowledge of God. (German sermon 4)

There is a power in the soul which touches neither time nor flesh, flowing from the spirit, remaining in the spirit, altogether spiritual. (German sermon 7)

So, when I am able to establish myself in nothing, and nothing in myself, uprooting and casting out what is in me, then I can pass into the naked being of God, which is the naked being of the Spirit. (German sermon 7)

Since it is God’s nature not to be like anyone, we have to come to the state of being nothing in order to enter into the same nature that He is. (German sermon 7)

One means, without which I cannot get to God, is work or activity in time, which does not interfere with eternal salvation. “Works” are performed from without, but “activity” is when one practises with care and understanding from within. (German sermon 9)

If you seek God and seek Him for your own profit and bliss, then in truth you are not seeking God. (German sermon 11)

The human spirit must transcend number and break through multiplicity, and God will break through him; and just as He breaks through into me, so I break through into Him. (German sermon 14b)

______________________

[1] Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, Hinduism and Buddhism (Mountain View, CA: Golden Elixir Press, 2011).

Ver e Amar

07.07.2012

Levanta-te!
Levanta-te das trevas!
Desperta-te!
Abre o olho do entendimento
e olha para a profundidade
dentro do poço profundo da caridade divina!
Porque se não vires,
não poderás amar.
Quanto mais vires,
mais amarás.
Uma vez que ames,
vais seguir,
e vais vestir-te na Sua vontade.

S. CATARINA DE SENA, OP, “Oração 19”, 27 Mar. 1379
(trad. Sérgio Dias Branco, trad. orig. Suzanne Noffke, OP)

Pray Without Ceasing

05.07.2012

We must pray without ceasing, in every occurrence and employment of our lives—that prayer which is rather a habit of lifting up the heart to God as in a constant communication with Him.

ST. ELIZABETH ANN SETON, SC