History of Christian Spirituality

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Part of "The History of Christian Spirituality" class





In some senses, up to now, it's been sort of obscure, but it's been rediscovered, and it's a beautiful example of early Christian writing. We're not sure of the author or of the date or to whom it's written, and these are real disadvantages. The first thing the scholar wants to know is who wrote it, to whom, when, in what circumstances, what concerns. All this fills out the context so that you can understand every paragraph, you can understand what's behind this or that. We don't have that with this document, but we have some hypotheses that are interesting. There's this patristic scholar, Andriessen, and he's come up with a very scholarly study that the author of this is a certain quadratus, who is mentioned in, mentioned in the book of Eusebius.


Remember, Eusebius is the father of Christian history, really. Well, he says there's this great Christian quadratus who wrote an apology to the emperor Hadrian, and Andriessen says this is no other, that the author of this document is no other than that quadratus, and this document is none other than that apology. So that would immediately give us the author, more or less the date, and to whom it was written. Now, Quasten thinks that this hypothesis is really quite possible, and it'd be very interesting. So it's written to no one less than an emperor, also. This is very interesting. So that's one, but this hasn't at all been demonstrated, and this is one of the things that might come up in future years, future breakthroughs in this regard. If it is quadratus, then you have to distinguish a first part of the document and a second part. For those of you who've looked it over, or will, there's a part two, the homily, that's


thought to be much later, and tacked on, and may be a Hippolytus. This is the kind of technical work that scholars do that's very important, because later themes will come out in the second part that weren't mentioned in the first, and you think, wow, why is that? Well, it's an entirely different thing. It was tacked on. It was soon. This is a different genre, literary genre, than what we've been dealing with up to date with Clement and Ignatius. Those are letters, and we've noted that a letter has its own particular style, its own approach, its own limits, and its own richness. We said the letter is usually very conditioned by that specific circumstance. I'm angry with my brother because he forgot my mother's birthday. I write a letter to him. Now, that letter isn't the final statement of my maybe very deep, loving rapport with my brother, but it's a very personal, spontaneous expression of that moment. You idiot. Why did you forget your birthday?


So the intensity of the letter, then very important to whom it's written. Remember with Clement, with Ignatius, and with Paul, it's a very committed Christian pastor writing to other Christians, and that's very important. So the faith is always presupposed. Now here we've got something entirely different. We've got what is called an apology. We've got a Christian sitting down, writing to a professed pagan, and wanting to dialogue. We talk a great deal today about dialogue, and whether we should, and the dangers, and whether we should even talk with other Christians. Here's a serene, serious, committed dialogue with a non-believer, and it becomes a very, very important genre, literary style. Now this has very different presuppositions than the letter. It's not that immediate, personal thing that so depends upon the immediate context.


My brother last week forgot the birthday. Rather, I sit down at my desk, I try to think through a very reasoned, structured defense of Christianity, presentation of Christianity, of its nobility, of its dignity, of why it shouldn't be persecuted, that's the basic thing, to someone who's not even a Christian. And underneath it all, I'm hoping also to convert him. But you see, it's an entirely different approach. It's got its own dangers. Its dangers is that it kind of watered down the radicalness of Christianity, to try to convince this chap that you can accept this, we can plug into this, it's not that unreasonable, this Christian thing. So it's not that radicalness of St. Paul who says, I determine to preach Christ crucified and nothing else, Christ crucified, this foolishness for the Greeks, and this scandal for the Jews, this sort of thing. No, here you're trying to show even the reasonableness of times.


And there are theological presuppositions here that have to be worked out. In what sense is Christianity reasonable? Tertullian would be radically anti-apology. You don't make any apologies, I believe, because it's absurd. There's no reasonableness in Christianity. Entirely different approach, and he'll not want to dialogue with anyone, including the Pope and Catholics, etc. This is a different approach. Let's talk this through. We're both human beings, we're both committed to the truth. This is our common ground. It's always presupposed here. Here we get into the whole theme of pluralism in the early documents. There's not one approach. There's the Tertullian spirit, and then there's this spirit, and we'll see many others in the spirit of apology. You can quote already Scripture as a basis for this approach. First Peter 3.15, if you want to look that up. That's the kind of foundation for all later apologetic work.


The text reads, but sanctify the Lord in your heart. Be ready always to give an explanation, or defense, the word is apologion in Greek. Later it will become apologia, which is the genre here. Be ready always to give an apologia to everyone asking you an explanation, logos, concerning the hope in you. But, with meekness and fear, not a kind of violent, intuperative, you know, smash them with your syllogisms, but with meekness and fear, be prepared to give an apologia, a defense, an explanation, regarding the hope in you. Does anyone say that we would be able to look that up? That I don't remember. One would want to look that up.


It'd be interesting. I don't remember that at all. We'll look that up. And this brings up the relevant issue today. Is there space for apologia oggi today? Are we, as many say, in a kind of a post-Christian, pagan age? Many people come up. Do they ask us here about the hope in us regarding Christianity, basically, even, and regarding the monastic life, regarding the hermetic life? What is it all about? Why are you here? It can come out in many ways. Isn't this foolish? Aren't there more serious problems in the world that you should be after, etc.? What do you respond to that? One approach would be, you don't respond to anything. It's your life. It's the experience. If they're living it, they'll understand. If they're not living it, they'll never understand. So that's a different approach, you see. But someone like Quadratus, or whoever be the author of this, his approach is, no, enter into a dialogue, discussion, even debate, if necessary. Apologia is often debate, and he's tough here in many sections, though in other sections


he's very, very gentle. And I think at the end he offers a whole beautiful theology of Christian gentleness. But he's not wishy-washy, and he's not servile, and he's prepared to battle it through, as we'll see. So I think this is very relevant for today. People are asking questions today about Christianity, the Catholic Church, other churches, monasticism. What do we do confronted by these questions? And more profoundly, are these questions inside us, insofar as we're 20th century people? So much of this Apologia is also a dialogue with ourselves. Anselm always defines theology as faith-seeking understanding. You believe, but then you try to work it through, because you do have this curious organ up here called the mind, and you try to relate one mystery to another, and you try to relate the whole of Christian history simply to human existence. Does it crush human existence?


Is it absurd, as Tertullian would say? Or is it the fulfillment of our deepest hopes and human aspirations, et cetera? So this sort of thing. So first of all, the letters of Paul and the letters of Clement, et cetera. Christianity is expanding. You announce the good news. You call people to conversion, and then little communities are set up, and you seek to strengthen those communities with all sorts of letters. So we saw letters of Paul, letters of Clement, letters of Gnatius. This is their function, Christian to Christian, to fortify the inner Christian community, resolve certain problems, exhort against disunity, exhort against certain deviations, Judaizing, legalism, docetic spiritualism, et cetera. Here's something else again. Christianity has grown so much, particularly in the cities throughout the empire. We'll see some references here. It's curious that the last place Christianity was able to penetrate was into the countrysides,


the Pagani, the people of the Pagus, of the country. But it was in the cities throughout the empire that Christianity took root, often in the lowest classes, the slaves, the simple tradespeople. Now, because it was springing up all over, by the end of the century, it was all over the empire, people started getting worried who were not Christians, and they started taking the response that people are often tempted to in this religious field, that is, exert power. So they'd go to the authorities and say, clamp down on these people, they're dangerous. We old crush-them-through-power thing. And so the Christian exigency to dialogue with also authorities, with intellectuals, et cetera, to say, look, there's no reason to persecute us. If they were to be persecuted, even that, we'll see, they'll be ready. Next we want to move on to the great, great, just a martyr, also a great apologist, but


at the end, died a very, very heroic, a martyrish death. So they were ready for that, but they weren't just trying to, it wasn't a suicide trip, it wasn't to kind of provoke them into killing you, but saying, look, maybe you're called to Christianity. Maybe you've got to work this through, all the lies that are being told about us are not true. First of all, clarify that, and then try to overcome this power tactic. So that's what it's, the whole context. Character of the document. It's a very early document. There's nothing about the Holy Spirit, for instance, that's always a sign that we're early. Things take time to work out in the Christian consciousness. There's nothing here about bishops or priests or deacons or synods or this sort of thing. So there's that side. It's not that every patristic document is going to really bolster up the Petrine claims


and things and the monarchical bishop, et cetera. No, some don't even mention it, but the relation of the Christian to the world or to human values is going to be a very, very interesting model here that I think really challenges us today, maybe is very relevant to us today, and then that'll be a theme that'll come up in Justed Martyr. So we want to keep an eye on that problem. There are some themes that come up perennially through the Fathers. You have a variety of solutions, and one of the key questions is, what is the relation of Christianity, Christian spirituality, Christian life, on the one hand, to human values, human philosophy, human culture, on the other? What's the relationship? We'll see if there's time. Many different models, each with some kind of roots in the Fathers, and it's a challenge to us. Some of the things that we discussed today, they've been debated for centuries, and it's often very fruitful to work through these debates and then see, well, it's not just


something that popped up two years ago in some article in National Catholic Reporter or something, but it's been battled through the centuries, and everyone can relate it to it. So what is the context of the document? Here he is, very genteel and courteous, entering into dialogue with this, apparently, man of prestige and an intellectual. It starts out, I have noticed my Lord Diognitus, so it's called the letter to Diognitus. Who is this Diognitus? Now, again, scholars get involved here. It might be a very honorific title for the emperor. I forget what the Greek means, but it means a wise one or something. It might be a name made up. The whole thing might be an artifice, like some of the dialogues of Plato. Or there might be a real Diognitus. There was a tutor of one of the emperors called Diognitus.


So it might be that. So who is this Diognitus? Various theories. I have noticed, my Lord, the deep interest you have been showing in Christianity and the close and careful inquiries you have been making about it. So you start with him, not a Christian, who asks things. Now, what do you do there? Do you have a whole apologetic dilemma? Do you try to give a response for the hope in you, or what? You would like to know what God Christians believe in and what sort of cult they practice, which enables them to set so little store by this world. They're not worldly people clutching to. And even to make light of death itself. So again, this isn't written in fear and trembling that things might go wrong, but simply a dignified let's stand up and reason this through. Since they reject the deities revered by the Greeks, no less than they disclaim the superstitions professed by the Jews. It's got a very careful, clear structure here. We'll see it starts out against the idolatry of the pagans and against the legalism of


the Jews. You are curious, too, about the warm fraternal affection they all feel for one another. This is beautiful. They will know you are disciples, my disciples, because of your love. The warm fraternal affection they all feel for one another. Here we get the kind of early Christian springtime spirit to this. We won't always have this. There won't be any great affection in a Tertullian, for instance, who is trying to thrust people through. Also you are puzzled as to why this new breed of men, or at least this novel manner of life, has only come into our lives recently, instead of much earlier. This is a deeper theoretical question. You claim you have the truth, and you just sprung up the day before yesterday. Well, where was truth before then? And of all our great predecessors and philosophers, were they absolutely in error? Why this recent? This is a problem that Christians will struggle with a great deal.


Also it's already in the New Testament, you know, a theology of why in this late time. It's an interesting problem. Is God uninterested in all the generations of people before him? I salute this eagerness for knowledge on your part. This is beautiful. It's not saying you're a pagan, shut up. One of the seminarians, I don't know if it's true, I haven't looked it up, but he was quoting some medieval Christian king who was saying, if any Jew asks any question about the faith, respond by thrusting your sword into him. Now this is a rather different approach. I salute this eagerness for knowledge on your part. And I pray God, the author of both speech and hearing, this is beautiful, this is giving great value to, you see, human, just being the locus, the capacity to dialogue, to grant me such use of my tongue that you may derive the fullest benefit from listening to me, and to you such use of your ears that I may have no cause to regret having spoken.


So question, answer. This is the structure of apologetic. This is the whole structure of theology, according to some theologians. Our human condition poses certain queries, and we have our faith, and then theology responds to them. This is the dialogue dimension of the Christian life. Then he goes right into first against paganism. Again, he's not wishy-washy, he's not servile, he's not saying, you've got good things, but also we have good things. You say, no, and he gets very tough right from the beginning. Begin then by clearing your mind of the prejudices it harbors. Shake off the hidebound notions which can only lead to error, and put yourself in the position of a brand new man on the point of hearing what you yourself admit to be a brand new language. So he's requiring some kind of leap of faith almost from the beginning, or at least quite a tabula rasa. People who study the mechanism of the aesthetic moment, when you go in and you see a film,


they say it all presupposes this suspension of disbelief. I go in there and it's a film about the Middle Ages. I'm suddenly in the Middle Ages. I put aside, no, I'm really here in a theater and I'm not, no, suddenly I just accept what's said and a person comes out and he's supposed to be the son of the king, and I don't say, well, how do I know he's the son? No, he's the son of the king. So he's saying, put yourself in a suspension of disbelief, interesting. So it's not a very kind of using pagan logic to kind of tripping into Christianity, but he's saying, no, this is something quite new. But we can still do it. It's so new, but we can still dialogue. So it's a dialectical position. Then he charges against idolatry. Then take a good look with your intelligence, not just with your eyes, at the forms and substance of those objects which you call gods and hold to be divine. Is there one here, for instance, anything other than a block of stone, identical in kind with the stones we tread under our feet?


And he says, there might be some of silver, and then you've got to have a guard around to protect them. There might be some of gold, but then you have to polish them up, et cetera, the kind of sarcasm against idolatry that you already find in the Psalms and New Testament, et cetera. Very strong. Do you really call these things gods and do you really do service for them? Yes, indeed, you do. You worship them and you end up becoming like them, the great song. Is it not because we Christians refuse to acknowledge their divinity that you dislike us so? So this is putting it very clear, we're being persecuted primarily because we don't like your idolatry. So there's no, again, wishy-washy servile business here. Then he goes on, I'm not calling Jews precisely idolaters, he says. There is something different going on here. They're proclaimers of the one God. But then he goes on, do they end up much less in bad straits than pagan idolatry?


So that's his next thing, and this is quite historical. Christians were living in a pagan Roman world surrounded by idols, and they were often mistaken, the Christians, as a kind of just a sect of Judaism, a kind of a variant of Judaism. And he said, this ain't the truth, and we're quite as against Judaism as we are against paganism. Yesterday in my sermon, I noted the problems against the kind of advent mentality, both of worldliness and of Judaic legalism. Well, it seems to me there's a kind of a patristic precedent for this, fighting the battle on both fronts, not being so anti-worldly, et cetera, that we'll accept any form of religiosity as the answer. No, Christians have to be wary on both fronts. Next I expect what you want most to hear about is our Christian unwillingness to accept the faith of the Jews. Admittedly, since they have no truck with the sort of religion that I've been describing,


all these stone gods and things, Jews may fairly claim to be devotees of the one true God and to acknowledge him as their sovereign. Nevertheless, insofar as they do him service with rights similar to those of the heathen, they are in error. Many attacks their fixed legalism, and they're sacrificing beasts to placate this angry Yahweh, and they're nervously looking at what feast days are holy days according to the phases of the moon, and what foods are clean and what foods are not clean, and the importance of circumcision, et cetera. There's a whole page and a half against this. Very briefly, the maker of heaven and earth and all therein, the supplier of our every need, could never himself be in any need of the very things which are actually his own gifts to the self-styled givers. So he argues against Judaism on theological grounds. This transcendent God doesn't need all this legalistic nervousness and all this slaughter


of beasts. Indeed, so long as they believe themselves to be fulfilling their sacrificial duty to him by means of blood and fad and burnt offerings and fancy they are doing him honor by such rights, I cannot see that there is anything to choose between them and the men who lavish similar attentions on deaf and dumb idols. And he comes into a very lovely play of words here. One party, it seems, makes its offerings to creatures which cannot partake of the gifts, and the others to one who needs none of them. The fathers, oh, I'm sorry, the patristic scholars, thought that this is a beautifully structured document. Some of the early Christian writings clearly come from people who aren't that literate and aren't that, but Princess Quasten says, this is among the most beautiful and brilliant of ancient Greek Christian literature. The writer is a master of rhetoric. His sentence structure is full of charm and subtle balance. His style is limpid. The diction sparkles with fire and vitality, et cetera.


So it's beautiful to read this just for its eloquent brilliance. It would want to be someone like Quadratus, a very distinguished Christian intellectual who can do this sort of thing. The great Anglican patristic scholar Lightfoot says that this is the noblest of early Christian writings. Not just the style, but the—we'll see later—the very deep, beautiful theology. So there's this side of it. As for their scrupulousness about meats and their superstitions about the Sabbath and their much-vaunted circumcision, et cetera, and it goes on and on and on. So this is an interesting side, and this is the essence of apologetic also. In its debate side, we are here, we are not there, and we're drawing the distinctions very clearly. Then he goes into a whole, well, what is our view, then, of God, of Christians in the world, of Christ, et cetera. It's interesting that he starts with Christians in the world. The subheadings in this Penguin thing is characteristics of the Christian community.


Why? Because this is the most visible and tangible thing for the pagan. This is what surprises them. He doesn't immediately encounter their sublime spiritual theology or their concept of God. He encounters how they live, the way they behave, et cetera. And this raises many questions. This is very interesting. There's a whole theology in the New Testament of wonder. Christ does things, and the people around him wonder. The apostles do things, he causes wonder. Some ask if our comportment today causes similar wonder, or do we seem to be following, in our own way, a kind of very human logic of power and security and this sort of thing. But they caused wonder, these early Christians. Now what is the relation of Christians in the world? And he traces it out. I think a model that's quite surprising to us and quite different from anything we've had for many, many generations earlier.


The difference between Christians and the rest of mankind is not a matter of nationality or language or customs. Christians do not live apart in separate cities of their own, do not speak any special language or dialect, nor practice any special way of life. They pass their lives in whatever township, Greek or foreign, which man's lot has been determined, and conform to ordinary local usage in clothing, diet, and other habits. So this isn't a gathered group that tries to insist on its own cultural identity by setting up its own little townships, its own language, its own customs, its own dress. This will be an approach later. In a certain way, it's the monastic approach. There's many things to think through here. But no language of our own, later, for instance, Latin will become the sacred language of the Roman church to distinguish from the Eastern church, et cetera.


No special languages. The Eastern will have old Slavonic, et cetera, and the Anglican will have old English, et cetera. No special language. They'll speak whatever language is on the, that's not it. No special dress, no special spaces where we live in. No special customs. Whatever township, et cetera. Does this mean that they just blend into paganism and just become pagan? Not at all. And here he starts drawing very clear distinctions. Nevertheless, the organization of their community does exhibit some features that are remarkable and even surprising. What is this surprising? You don't surprise them because you're speaking another language, a sacred language that's different from the language that you claim is inferior on their part. You don't dress in a way that you insist is more close to God than they. Or you don't have other customs. But there are some things that are surprising. What are these? For instance, though they are residents at home in their own countries, their behavior


there is more like that of transients. There's a very lovely footnote here. It says that the very same Greek word used here is the word, remember, we ran into Clement when he began his transients or resident aliens, a footnote borne on the inscription of Clement's epistle with the same Greek word as applied to the Corinthian church, became a favored description of the Christian community in any locality and has eventually made its way into the English language as parish, which is paradoxical because then you get very wounded at your parish there. But originally it meant aliens, just kind of on the border, on the margin, passing through. For them, excuse me, this is particularly beautiful. For them, any foreign country is a motherland and any motherland is a foreign country. So we're not patriotic in our Christian nation against the pagan nations and we've got our Christian armies. Every nation is our fatherland, is our motherland. Just as on another level, every nation is equally foreign to us.


So one can see here also why they were thought rather subversive, these Christians. They didn't fit into the loyalty to the emperor and patriotic, this sort of thing. Like other men, they marry and beget children, no stressing of the celibate thing here, though they do not expose their infants, apparently the pagans, if their baby was born particularly defective or just put in such a way as to naturally die. Christians don't do that. They accept the baby that comes. Any Christian is free to share his neighbor's table, withdraw into little groups, share their neighbor's table, but never his marriage bed. So it's on a profoundly moral level that we distinguish Christians. Though destiny has placed them here in the flesh, they do not live after the flesh. So in the world, but not of the world. That's the essence of this thing, I think. Their days are passed on earth, but their citizenship is above in the heavens, already


the great New Testament thing. They obey the prescribed laws, but in their own private lives, they transcend the laws. They're not revolutionaries, but they're not hidebound by the laws. Indeed, when they'll be obliged to sacrifice to the gods, part of the laws of the empire, they'll say no. They show love to all men, and all men persecute them. They are misunderstood and condemned, yet by suffering death, they are quickened into life. So a loving community that's persecuted. They are poor, yet making many rich, lacking all things, yet having all things in abundance. It goes on in a very eloquent way in this paradoxical thing that we call St. Paul. So it's an image of the Christian community in the world. The French bishops have said, for instance, we are now primarily in a missionary venture.


We can no longer pretend that France is Catholic. No one goes to church. They baptize in a few months, but that's it. In Italy, they've said something the same. The Italian bishops, we are in a missionary situation. In England, et cetera. What do we do in this situation? We try to fortify our institutions. We have our Catholic schools, our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic newspapers. In Italy, we've got our Catholic political parties. The traditional Italian approach up to now has been interesting. Every parish has around it a whole series of sociological institutions to make the Catholic community its own sort of self-contained world. There is the Catholic political party again. It's ruled Italy for good or less good for now since the war. There's a Catholic newspaper. Every parish has its own Catholic soccer teams, its own Catholic playing fields, its own often Catholic cinema. One of the monks was telling me, you had to confess it if you went to any of the theaters


except the Catholic theater, because those were Catholic films showed in the Catholic theater. The money went there. Then there is the Catholic bar right next to the church and right by the church. It's not a bar in our sense down in the Bronx. This is a greasy place. You can buy sandwiches and Coke there. The whole family goes there, but you can always buy liquor there, et cetera. Well, that's the place Italians go to chat, et cetera. Well, you need your Catholic bar where they'll chat about Catholic things, et cetera. So this is an approach to this threat, to this challenge of non-Christianity in our world. Create a Catholic identity, and of course the Catholic feast days, the whole village celebrates with processions through the streets, the Catholic saints and the Catholic hymns and the sacred language and all the little boys dressed up, the whole thing. Give a Catholic identity to the Catholic presence and battle against anything that


isn't explicitly Catholic. This is one approach. And the debate in Europe is, is this the right approach? And many priests are asking, because the Italian parish priest has to organize the soccer teams and has to get the films together and be present at the bar to chat and organize who are going to be the candidates on the Catholic party and all this. The institutional thing is quite a heavy thing, and also economically. The Catholic schools, et cetera, that teach Catholic biology and Catholic mathematics, it's a tremendous economic burden. And some are asking, is this what it's all about? Well, and some point back to some patristic documents such as this for a whole different approach, which is sometimes called the Levin approach. We are not set apart. We don't have our own cities. We don't have our special languages. We don't have eccentric ways of life. And he goes on to spell this out theologically.


To put it briefly, the relation of Christians to the world is that of a soul to the body. As the soul is diffused through every part of the body, so are Christians through all the cities of the world. The soul, too, inhabits the body, but at the same time forming no part of it. And the Christian inhabits the world, but they are not part of the world. The same in but not of. But all through the world, animating the world, the soul, invisible itself, is in the world. So Christians can be recognized in the world, but their Christianity itself remains hidden from the eye of the flesh. The soul loves the flesh and all its members, despite their hatred for her. And Christians, too, love those who hate them. The soul, shut up inside the body, nevertheless holds the body together. And though they are confined within the world, it is Christians who hold the world together.


So this is the image. I don't know if you remember a phrase Don Bruno cited from Rahner yesterday. Of incarnation. The Christians that don't stamp Christianity on everything for Christian art and Christian culture, but incarnate in the world. Rahner uses the word even anonymously in the world, to wave the Christian flag even rarely at the key moments of heights of the human experience and the depths. But normally, to be there simply as Christians, animating, holding together through love, through service, simply through being Christian in this way. This is the model of leaven. We heard in the reading of St. Paul of Romans yesterday, a little holy leaven in the mass. Leaven's the whole mass. So Christians are diffused throughout every city. They don't withdraw into, let's create a Christian city. But throughout all the cities, they speak any language.


There isn't the Christian language. But they can speak Greek in Athens. They can speak later Latin in Rome, which is picked up then because it's the language of the people. They can speak whatever dialect, whatever language. There's not a Christian bar or a Christian newspaper. But there's Christians who wander into a bar and talk Christianly to people in any bar. Or they'll play in any team Christianly. There isn't the Christian soccer team, you see. Some of the headlines of the sports pages of the Catholic papers are sometimes fun. St. Joseph trumps St. Mary's. No, it's Christians in because there's nothing essentially Christian about a football team or a basketball team. But there's a Christian way to be in a football team or a Christian way to speak a language. There is not the Christian language.


This was debated for years. There is the holy Catholic language, Latin. And if you'll read that great... God. Oh, indeed. And we'll do it more and more as the centuries pass into the Middle Ages, and we'll create a sacred Christian empire and a sacred language and ways to dress the whole thing. This is pre-that. Well, it's Christian. Oh, yeah. This is before that, and we are after that. That's what some people argue. For instance, there was the Holy Roman Empire. We'll see that later. The alliance made it a certain decisive point between church and emperor, Constantine.


And something very different comes out of that. I mean, you have a Christian empire, you have Christian armies, you have Christian laws, the whole bit. And then that starts collapsing. And the holy Christian empire collapses. And then what do you do? There was debates all the decades ago about the holy Latin language. And I remember our moral prof, Anselm, yeah, he was citing this Vaticanist who said, we must hold on to the Latin language because it's the last remnant we have of the Holy Roman Empire. It's what unites the United States and Africa and England, et cetera, the way that the Holy Roman Empire once united us. So it's the sign of that universal unity in the one faith. And if that goes, what have we got? Well, this answer, we've got the faith. Christians in America can speak English without embarrassment.


Christians in Italy can speak Italian, et cetera. It ain't the language that unites us or the dress. It's this faith. It's at the level, as he says, you can't see. It's at the level of, so Christians can be recognized in the world, but their Christianity itself remains hidden from the eye. So it's, all I'm saying, I'm radicalizing the challenge because it's a debate going on all over Europe. What do you do in this neo-pagan situation? Do you do everything to reinforce your separated institutions and underline your separateness? This is a real problem of orthodoxy, so tied into the ethnic identities. I had a friend who was, his mother was an Armenian orthodox. Well, to go into that parish, you immediately had to, Armenian was the only language. And all the Armenian customs, feast days, foods, and clothes, the whole bit.


To be a Christian was identical with the language, the whole bit. It's a global totality. Now, when kids at a certain age would say, well, wait, I'm an American kid, you know, then the crisis. That's the problem. Do I believe in Armenian folk customs or do I believe in Jesus Christ? What is the relation of these two? So the strength of the visible social signs is that it reinforces, it makes visible. But the problem is, all cultural things are ambiguous. And once you get an identity of the culture with the depths of the faith, and once the cultural type starts to slip away because history moves on, and people just don't know Latin anymore, for instance, what do you do? Well, I think there were a lot of institutions. The institutions were basically vehicles of getting people together. Because they just dispersed. They were sort of dispersed.


And one could offer reinforcements to get the institutions together. Right. And this would guard the institution of those cultural things. I mean, the Armenians were getting off. They were sidetracked, basically. So, to answer your question, what do we do? Do we do it with institutions? No, this is on another level. If by institution you mean the church, which isn't primarily institution, but body of Christ. I mean, the church within the church. I think that's what he's trying to say. Yeah. He stresses very much Christian community. Yeah. Okay, but that has to do with the Christian community. You have to kind of realize itself. Yeah. It's an organization of forms. Right. So, then maybe they're asking themselves, how do we strengthen these forms? You can't do away with the forms.


You don't have the forms. You have the Sancta Salma. That's the institution. What do you do with the forms? How do you understand the forms? Do you understand them as simply tools and instruments, or do you sacralize them and absolutize them? We've got to cling to this custom, because it's our whole identity. They're tools. Everything's a tool. Precisely. But this wasn't always recognized. Read Veterum Sapientiae about the essential requirement of studying Catholic theology in Latin, of praying in Latin. Catholicity is so linked with Latin that the one ... There was a time when, for instance, Rome, the pope was over the Vatican states. Politically, he was the prince of the Vatican. It was discussed. Is this a divine revelation? Is it required? Well, one of the very ultramontane, called one of the very papalist English cardinals went to Vatican I wanting to insist that the papal states were part of the divine revelation, and that anyone who said that the pope should be stripped of them, as some Catholic so-called


liberals were arguing, simply because it was an obstacle to his being shepherd, he was heretical. So he wanted to have proclaimed at the council the divine right of the pope having his states. And in fact, all those Catholics who were on the side of the Union of Italy, because Italy was divided into all these little pieces, and the biggest piece right in the center was the papal, so Garibaldi and all these people fighting for the Union of Italy, the Catholics on his side were excommunicated. And Paul VI very recently made a beautiful, I thought, concession. He was giving a speech at Rome to the mayor of Rome, and he said, those Catholics in favor of the reunion of Italy were certainly in the right. Which is beautiful, which is somehow how people in one age are seen as absolutely heretical, but it's seen that it's prophetic, because the papacy does not depend on possessing all


of Lombardy and all of the city of Rome. Indeed, that had, at a certain point, become a real obstacle, because the pope was seen as nothing but another prince, and so battles with him, and taxes to raise for the people armies, and there's still signs in stone all over Rome, if you see. The Monsignor Mayor of Rome orders that anyone who spits on the sidewalk will be fined 100 ducats, or will be whipped in public, other things. It was the full identity of institution with faith. But there certainly has to be institution, and there has to be culture. But they don't say that their identity depends upon them. They could sell them tomorrow, ideally. They're not saying, these are sacred houses, they can't be touched, they're paying taxes, they're saying, this is where we're at now. But they need the houses, you're right, you've got to have a roof over your head.


But the problem is when you come to say, there's a Catholic way to build a house, there's a sacred space here that no one can touch, because it's the circumference. Maybe, I'm throwing this out there. I once saw in Turkey, I think it was in the 4th or 5th century, in every square inch of that, there would be a convent. I don't know if you see it, but I'm going to have to look at it. They instructed me to do it. Going in that direction. Incorrect direction, I think. Necessarily. Why? Yeah, in any case, it's something being debated today and something for us to work through, because it touches so many forms of our life. The relation of the faith at its deepest level with the necessary, inevitable expressions


on the cultural, on the outer, on the institutional level of this faith. You can't just absolutely spiritualize it, so there's no outer expressions. In some points, he seems almost to do that. You can't see Christianity itself. But on the other hand, I think he's challenging us to ask, what is the temptation of absolutizing these forms? And then they tend to slip. So many people thought being a Catholic was not eating meat on Friday, etc. And then when these things were changed, they went into crisis, sort of thing. Well, that was a discipline, that's all. Not part of the essence of the faith. So, then we go into the theology, which is a very sublime theology. First of all, there's a whole beautiful business about divine economy. All this business of Christians being in the world as the soul to the world, the whole incarnate idea, spirit in flesh, and to hold the world together, but not to become worldly, but to transcend it,


but to save the world. All this is not by chance or some kind of... This is the will of the Father. Paragraph 8, for those who want to work this. The Heavenly Father conceived a design, great and beyond all telling, and he imparted it to no one but his Son alone. And so long as he maintained this secrecy and kept his own wise counsel, it seemed as though he had no care for us, and he put us out of his mind. So the pre-incarnation period, this is as though God is not taking us into his confidence. We don't know what it's all about. But he had this subtle design. But as soon as he disclosed it through his beloved Son, and revealed what had been planned since the beginning, in a straight way he poured out all the fullness of his bounty upon us, permitting us to share his benefactions, to see and know such blessings as none of us could have ever looked for. This is beautiful and really sublime.


He's saying that it was persecuted and dug, smashed, etc., and precisely because Christian. But he's not trying then to build up Christian armies to... No, he's saying it's all grace, and it's all part of the divine economy. Then quite a theology of God as mystery. This will come out always in the Fathers. We don't have any easy handles on God with our little scholastic definitions, etc. God is transcendent mystery. Let's see. I don't find that quotation on God as a mystery. Oh, 178. So it's paragraph 7. The Almighty himself, the creator of the universe, the God who no eye can discern, he has sent down his truth.


I still don't find that. But at some point he stresses that God is pure, ineffable. But with Christ it becomes evident. This is his main point. And a whole theology, it's a very high Christology. Here these are mainly slaves and simple people, and they're being pounded upon. They maintain this very, very exalted ideal of who is their leader to this end. He is not. God is not, as one might imagine. Sent to mankind some servant of his, some angel, some human prince. It is none of these ones that he sent. It is none other than a universal artificer and constructor himself. He's talking about Christ here, through whom all things are created. This sublime, holy theology. By whose agency God made the heavens and set the seas their bounds. Whose mystic word, so this very contemplative experience behind all this,


the elements of creation submissively obey. All of creation is in obedience to this Christ. By whom the sun has assigned the limits of his course by day, and to his command by night the obedient moon unveils her beams. So all creation under Christ and in Christ. A beautiful Christic vision, something like Teilhard will come up with in our own time. Not afraid of the cosmos or contempt of it. No, it's all in Christ's hands, being guided by Christ. This takes real faith. It's not because they're living in the Christian empire with the Christian empire that they can then see right above the Christian emperor, the final king. This will be what Eusebius will be doing. He'll be so astonished by the glory and splendor and richness of the Christian emperor Constantine. He'll say, this is the image of the glory and power and strength of Christ. No, these people are living in absolute poverty, simplicity.


The emperor is a pagan, but they have even more exalted, I think, Christology. Now what does this mean? Does it mean that Christ comes in power and might and kind of stomps on people? Then he gets into this canonic Christology, right at the moment of incarnation, and very, very beautiful, and also a theology of God. And here he gets into this gentleness theme. He's not on some kind of power trip, which is characteristic of his whole theology of Christians in the world. When you start to think of it, the Italian approach of the Catholic political party and the Catholic newspapers and the Catholic schools and the Catholic bar, for people who have their problems with Christianity, this is very threatening. Just about the whole thing going now in the U.S. about this moral majority. Jews are terrified. People who are not quite sure they're into Protestant and Catholic fundamentalism are terrified. What's going to happen to us? What's going to happen to our civil liberties? So they see it as a power play, a wanting to take over through Catholic candidates


or Christian candidates or newly born candidates, whoever, and dominate the schools, a crucifix in every classroom, this sort of thing. And behind there, there's a certain Christology and a certain theology. Well, behind this approach of leaven, of simply being everywhere, as poor, as oppressed, but loving and holding the whole thing together spiritually, behind this, there's also a Christology and a theology. And was Christ's coming, as a man might suppose, in power, in terror, and in dread? Not so. It was in gentleness and in humility. As a king sends his royal son, so God sent him. As God he sent him, but as man he sent him to him. And that because he was feigned to save by persuasion and not by compulsion. We're still before the Christian armies that will impose conversion. For there is no compulsion found with God.


He says, this isn't just a pastoral tactic that works better. No, because God himself does not compel. You know, one of the real battles in Vatican II was the whole document on Christian liberty. There was a whole school of theology that said, error has no rights. So if you've got a Catholic nation, you establish the Catholic religion with the laws, et cetera, and it's taught in all the schools, et cetera, et cetera. And there's no such thing as Christian commitment to liberty. When you're in power, you hold on to it. When you're out of power, you work to get into power, because only truth has rights. This was the famous thesis of Cardinal Ottaviani. And it came out of the American bishops, out of the American experience of pluralism. No, Catholics are committed to liberty. And it's because faith cannot be forced. Faith comes out of the deepest point of the human spirit, which is liberty. A forced, compelled faith is not liberty.


So the decree on Christian—what is it called? Christian liberty? Very, very interesting document to read, and all the prehistory. His mission was no pursuit or hounding of us. It was an invitation to us. It was in love, not in judgment, that he sent him. So I think this is really pretty beautiful stuff. It's a kind of a theology of nonviolence. God is nonviolent. Christ is nonviolent. Thus, Christians in the world should be nonviolent. And how do they behave? The one towards another. Well, then he goes a bit about this. Imitate God, and you'll thus be loving among yourselves, if I can find that. Once you have grasped these truths, think how your joy will overflow, and what love you will feel for him who loved you so. He's talking to this pagan, but he thinks all this will make a love explode in him.


And if you loved him, you will become an imitator of his goodness. Do not be surprised that a man should be an imitator of God. He can, since God so willed it. But happiness is not to be found in dominating one's fellows, not the power trip, or in wanting to have more than his weaker brethren, or in possessing riches and riding roughshod over his inferiors. No one can become an imitator of God like that. He's not just saying that's not polite, really. He's saying that's not godly. Though God is omnipotent, isn't he? It's a problem to solve that way, by trying to get up on top, you see.


In a lot of ways, it's possible revolutions are like this. But yet, there are a lot of people who are sort of impressed, sitting there with their full glasses on, and they get up on top and do the same thing. But I think Christianity finds itself in a somewhat different situation right now. And it's not so, what are we to do? We're not going to get into the power trip. As he's talking about it, I think the context has changed. So the question is, he's saying don't be aggressive in that way, okay? Because that way, however, is within a certain social context. But how are we to be aggressive today? Are we to be aggressive? I don't think he'd accept the question. Or not to be, I think he'd say. Well, I'll put it this way. We'll debate. I define my word, aggressive, okay? He says how he thinks. Yeah. I didn't finish the talk. The way he's, he might say that he is, he might suggest a way,


that's fine, I'll get up on top. But I think that his way of suggesting how to be aggressive is going to be in relation to the sociological context, which was one very thorough, for the people who were crushed, if they were judgmental. Yeah, I think he'd say, again, I'm not suggesting how to be aggressive. I'm suggesting how to be Christian, which is non-aggressive. Well, what I mean by aggressive is this. What I mean by aggressive is how are we to be strong as Christians. How to be strong as Christians. Is Christianity something, a passive thing? It's not weak. All right, that's what I mean. It's going to talk about truth. Okay. But it's not going to impose, ever. No, no, that's the old way. That's the old way. No compulsion from with God. Right. But how do we be strong? Well, he has some suggestions here. If a man will shoulder his neighbor's burden, if he be ready to supply another's need from his own abundance, if by sharing the blessings he has received from God with those who are in want, he himself becomes a God to those who receive his bounty,


such a man is indeed an imitator of God. And then you will see, as you walk the earth, that there is a God who is operative in heaven. So it's in giving, it's in serving, it's in loving. This is his way of, I wouldn't say being aggressive, but being Christian. This, it's a challenge to us to work through. I think it's a radical early Christian challenge to some of our tactics, mindsets, also theology. Maybe you don't want to radicalize it too much, but I think it is a challenge, and that's one of the joys of discovering the Fathers, because they don't just say to us things we want to hear, etc. But there's radical, as I say, there's basic debates going on in Catholicism and Christianity today. How to be Christian today? And this is an approach that at least should challenge us.


There are other approaches. There's the approach of the moral majority. There's the approach of all sorts of ways. But you can't equate them, I think. One has one theology, one approach, one style, and another has another. The Didache. Yeah. No? No, it's a whole perennial argument of Christian nonviolence or use of force. No? Yes.


Ha, ha, ha. Yes. Thank you.