Introduction to Theology, Serial No. 01122

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Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of those who believe in you and kindle within them
the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
Let us pray.
May the outpouring of your Holy Spirit, dear Lord, cleanse our hearts and make them fruitful
by the inward sprinkling of his dew, through Christ our Lord.
It's important to know where the prayer comes from.
It's my own translation, it comes from the Roman mission, that's right, yes, it comes
from, it's the First Communion, which is rather nice, very neat, prayer handwriting, I think.
What is man?
If you look at me at the moment, you might very well wonder.
Nice amalgam of English and American.
These words are, of course, what is man, the first three words of the fourth verse
of Psalm 8, a psalm which begins by looking up at the wonder of the night skies with the
moon and the stars, and it's curious how strong is this impact of nature which one can get
between the tall buildings of the city, even when other impressive works of nature are
hidden or far away.
And then one looks down at the physical littleness of man, compared with all that splendor.
Yet as verse five of the psalm goes on to reflect, there's something about man that
makes him only a little less than God.
The Hebrew word there is, of course, Elohim.
It's God-like substance in a certain way.
Sometimes it's translated as angel, but probably here it means simply God.
And you'll remember I wrote on one occasion, quoting another psalm in which the psalmist
is saying, I've said you are gods.
Now it seems to me to be quite evident that we cannot sensibly go beyond this point in
our introduction to theology, which has so far been concerned with God revealing himself,
whether in the scriptures or most ultimately and absolutely in the person of the unbegotten
son, and with the theological vision which begins to emerge from considering these two
interrelated sources, without saying something satisfactory about the mystery of man, human
beings, the ones to whom the revelation is made.
Curious enough, I know of no ordinary textbook, and there are few enough of great classical
works of theology, that do this as soon as I feel we need to do this nowadays, if it's
ever done at all, except sometimes as a kind of spiritual luxury.
For I need hardly say that an ordinary old-fashioned course in moral theology was never any substitute
for a proper consideration of the mystery of man, which evidently must at least start
in dogmatic theology.
I believe the word mystery is the correct one to use in this connection.
In the first place, because the nature of man is not unrelated to the revelation that
human beings are made in the image of God, a fact which suggests that they have spiritual
dimensions that need making as explicit as we can make them with any confidence.
And in the second place, because in a more conventional sense of that word, we are mysteries
to ourselves, a fact which is sometimes more readily recognised by unbelievers than by
those who profess to have faith.
This latter, almost universal experience of people who are at all reflective is out
as grounded, among other things, in the fact that we are a spirit-body complex, which it
gets harder to talk about and understand the nearer we get to what is largely physical
about ourselves.
In other words, we really do need, as a complement to a sound theological sense, a sound sense
of ourselves.
Some kind of Christian and Catholic anthropology in a world not only things about God, but
things intimately concerned with the lives of human beings are increasingly challenged
or dismissively questioned.
That Holy Scripture has such a conception of the immediate importance of a right conceiving
of ourselves is suggested not only by the awe-inspiring thought of Psalm 8, but also
by many phrases and passages, rather especially in the Psalms in general.
This, as we shall see, with one of the rather rare references to our creation, Psalm 118,
verse 73, says,
Your hands have made me and fashioned me.
Give me understanding that I may learn your commands.
Or, again, in the wonderful Psalm 138 or 139, according to the way you count, whether Hebrew
or Latin, 138 in Latin, which is a prolonged meditation of ourselves under the penetrating
gaze of God, who has perceived us when we were being formed in our mother's womb, and
from whom there is really no place to escape.
Remember, if I take the wings of the morning, darkness is not dark for thee, and all the
rest of it.
I personally wonder whether there is not in a feeling of this kind, as in the expression
of awe in Psalm 8, something which can and does come from time to time to those who are
not yet formally believers in the God who reveals Himself.
Naturally that such a one should want to be known by God, and so pray the prayer with
which Psalm 138 ends, search me and know me, presupposes an act of faith.
Alas, not even those who actually profess to believe are always brave enough to go on to
say, search me, O God, and know my heart, and see if there be any wickedness in me,
and lead me in the way of the lasting.
Let's return to the initial act of faith for the moment, that act which alone can make
theology really alive for us personally.
Here we come to a matter upon which John of Damascus and St. Thomas appear to differ at
least to some degree.
That what St. Thomas is prepared to concede to St. John is, I believe, of enormous importance
from a pastoral point of view.
And I make it my excuse for not discussing with you the problems raised by the demonstrations
put forward by St. Thomas, which he thinks, if properly understood, lead to the conclusion
that it must be true to say that God is, and is not some product of a mood or fantasy of
the imagination.
Question 2 of the first part of the Thomas Owen Theological, deals with the problem of
whether God exists, a very proper thing to consider before proceeding any further with
theology at all.
For should the answer be no, then theology, understood as the science or knowledge of
God revealing, has its very foundation removed.
Now, in order to discuss this matter, St. Thomas first asks the question whether the
fact that there is a God is a self-evident matter.
He's going to say that this is not a self-evident truth, and therefore he chooses to quote St.
John of Damascus as representing the apparently contrary point of view, since at the beginning
of chapter 3 of book 1 of the De Figo Orthodoxy, St. John says that the knowledge of God's
existence has been revealed to us through nature.
As St. Thomas quotes him, he is using a Latin text which employs the word innate.
Perhaps I'd better just go a bit, and I'm sorry I didn't finish with you.
Let me just outline.
Question 1.
Question 2.
Article 1.
Article 2.
He's quoting St. John of Damascus, saying to everybody that God exists is naturally
innate, inserted in him.
So God is known, is evident.
As St. Thomas quotes him, as I say, he's using obviously his Latin translation.
But the sense is certainly all right.
And it's rather, especially this word innate, which gives St. Thomas something he feels he
can concede.
I'd like to translate for you, I'd like to translate his answer.
It must be said, he says, that to know that God exists is innate to us in a general and
confused way, in so far as God is the final bliss of mankind.
For a human being naturally desires happiness.
And what someone naturally desires is naturally known by them.
And then here comes his real objection.
But this is not the same thing as knowing that God exists in an unanswerable way.
Just as, for instance, to know that someone is coming towards us is not to know that it
is Peter, even though it may be Peter coming.
Do you see St. Thomas' objection?
Not quite.
It's, if you like, what St. Thomas is conceding, this is of course the way to medieval discussions
in universities, in fact this is the way, a terrible way, those awful days when we had
to do these discussions in Latin, as I did when I was younger.
You always have to try to concede something to your objector.
And in this case St. Thomas can, because he has a conception of desire as being the good
which the seeking power seeks.
And he says that in case of human beings, because human beings desire what is good for
them, it's true to say that they do know there must be some good.
And it is also true that that good is there.
But what it may be, whether it's Brother Michael walking on the path as I think it
is, or who it be, I don't know.
And so it is not so vivid that God exists, and I suppose we don't really need to be
convinced of the truth of saying this.
Mark, yes, come on.
Well I'm not sure that I followed the argument.
So it's not possible...
He's not saying that we couldn't arrive at the point when it became clear to us that
it was indeed God.
He's simply saying that when I have a great kind of appetite for the good over here, I
don't know that this enormous appetite, which in my case as yours is enormous, as the years
go on, I can't know that the thing that is going to fill this is God.
And I think it's all kinds of things, and this is really what he goes on to do in lots
of bits of the sermon, to say that people think that it's riches, think it's food, or
think it's somebody else.
All kinds of wonderful things, the world is full of them.
So you know, doers care of things, the world is so full of wonderful things, I think we
should all be as happy as kings.
Does he say that we can know that something will fulfill our desire?
I suppose in a certain way he takes that for granted, yes.
That because we have such...
He takes the fact of desire as being an indication that it is not empty.
It is of course one of the things to remember that St. Teresa of Alesia in her very darkest
period, one of the things St. Teresa of Alesia was very convinced of in one of her darkest
spiritual periods, is that God doesn't give us desires in vain.
Now of course that starts from the standpoint of faith as an experience.
But simply as desire, of course there are enormous numbers, everybody is rushing around
America today looking for something, aren't they?
And not all of them know that they're looking for God.
That's really what he's saying.
If you like, God may be there, and he is.
This is not so they know it is, that's what it is.
Obviously for somebody who has, even for people who have faith, there may be moments of hesitation
about these inexperience, if you see what I mean.
Thank God there are, because we should have a very confused idea of God at all.
If we didn't slowly have to eliminate certain pictures, certain idols and so on.
It's very good to have idols too, from time to time, on the route.
Because they sometimes give us an intimation of that which is greater than they are.
All right?
Isaiah, you got it?
You see why St. Thomas doesn't accept it, yes?
John Baptiste?
I'm not clear as to, those who are rushing around looking,
have they a sense that there is something there, whether it is God or not,
or whether they have a sense of anything.
Well, let's say this, they want something, a somewhat.
You see, if you think that the kind of extent of human potentiality,
of human desire, is very great indeed,
you can say that insofar as A pursues B, C, D, and all those other things,
he or she is looking for somewhat.
But that can't be taken to mean that they know what that thing is,
that will satisfy them.
And that's why, of course, when you know,
Love Walked In, and all those kind of things,
all those lyrics from all those songs,
they all indicate that Heaven's arrived here and now.
And of course you can think that for a time until you find that it hasn't.
After breakfast in the morning, perhaps.
But that has to be discovered.
It's not given in the initial experience.
You think, ah, this is it.
I suddenly remember a very charming West Indian saying to me
about one or two of his love affairs,
because one always thinks that this blast, this is the real time.
And of course this exactly conforms to experience.
Now this is not, of course, in presenting it like this,
this is not a way of laughing at these experiences,
because as I say, there may in fact be,
I should think for the greater number of human beings,
they are the path by which they discover that only God will do.
It is just as well, I think, not to begin
too sure up in the head that only God will do,
because you may possibly get rather on the wrong path if you do that.
But that's something we can perhaps reserve to discuss later on.
But at any rate, you've got the idea now, Mark.
You see that in other words, all St. Thomas is saying is that
desire is there all right, and man is in fact only in practice
going to be able to be fulfilled by God himself.
But that doesn't mean to say that he knows that in the very fact of desiring.
Is God causing the desire?
Is God making us desire him, and we don't know it?
Did St. Thomas say that?
He said God is there, but we do not know it.
God is there, making the desire, but we don't know it.
Well, insofar as we are creatures, God has made us, yes.
Stones don't desire anything except to fall down.
According to the old philosophy, yes.
Except to fall down by their weight.
This is the wonderful idea, oh I'm sorry, I mustn't get talking about Augustine again,
because this is where Augustine's conception of ponderous weight gets done.
I mean, Augustine, of course, being a specialist on Mark, he knew rather a lot about it.
You see, the thing is,
this is what Avery brings us out of his thesis on friendship.
You see, it's a quotation from the Confessions, of course.
The thing is, everything wants to find its right place in nature.
This is what nature is like.
I don't want to talk too much about the concept of nature,
because there are so many concepts here, I have to try to avoid talking about too much,
because otherwise we get the whole of theology on our heads in one go.
But at any rate, you can say this, that all creative things, not just us,
let's not bring in God before we can, we have to, that's the point.
We are all creative things,
have their appropriate place,
gardeners like Ken and me, who have done gardening since we were very young,
have probably something we couldn't quite explain to other people,
about the sort of feeling whether this is the right place to put a plant,
or what you do with it under these circumstances,
just like doctors do, all of you do different things,
either you cook or you wash or you sew or you paint or whatever it is you do,
and you know instinctively what's the thing which is appropriate under the circumstances.
And so,
the whole of this kind of picture can be worked out in terms of
what the weight of the thing is, what it really wants.
Does this want more water? Lots of honey?
Stones desire to fall.
They didn't know anything about going up to the moon,
when everything changes.
But given stones,
if you put a stone on the roof and you push it, it normally falls to the ground.
That's the only kind of desire that stone has.
This we can talk about by analogy of course.
There we've got within our own world the use of an analogy
from a human experience, because of course stones do not desire anything,
in fact.
But simply what their nature causes them to do, being heavy.
Fortunately, the people who thought all these kind of thoughts,
didn't know any of the complicated things we now know about what stones are like.
They didn't know that if stones were just like us,
masses of molecules rushing around at enormous speed,
that was wrong.
And that of course is only a picture too.
Don't forget that.
Can you write about the argument itself?
You can see what St. Thomas is saying,
it's just enough to say that human beings obviously have desire,
it's true to say they have a desire for fulfilment,
which is the good for them.
But it's not given in the very fact of the desire,
to know that this fulfilment is God.
Now of course if you've already got faith of some kind,
then of course you will probably,
shall we say, although you may be confused about this to begin with,
you will probably be somewhat obscurely aware that this is going to be God.
And so you may even have heard somebody say that it is,
which rather clears the picture already,
but it isn't given if you think about it in experience.
So as I say, St. Thomas there says,
in fact the reason why this is so evidently not true,
is that there are many people who think that riches are the complete good of man,
in which this consists.
Others think that it's pleasures of some kind,
some others, ice cream, lots of it.
And still others, something else.
It can be the most extraordinary things, of course.
Anybody who's ever dealt with as many human beings as I have over the last 30 years,
would be quite astonished at some things that people really want.
Sometimes it can become quite crazy,
but it's there all right.
Now this is, while making an important clarification,
which scripture also recognises,
to concede a very great deal.
It's denying something very important, but it's conceding a very great deal.
And indeed if you read the whole of the chapter,
which follows this introductory Mark of John himself,
you'll see that he concedes,
that the way many people in practice live,
he didn't need to be in New York to know this,
overlays and obscures that primal innocence,
which Gino so wisely referred to the first time we were thinking about St. Thomas at all.
If you like, at all times in human history,
and even in the middle of a wood,
in little wooden huts or something,
people can get confused as to what they really want.
And this is of course also the sort of dilemma
to which our Lord refers in the parable of the sower.
If we're not careful, our hearts can become as hard as stone,
or as cluttered up as a choking patch of brambles.
Now none of this amounts to my saying that St. Thomas is wrong,
in saying that this is not an intellectually convincing argument.
I'm rather saying that I think that the argument from innate desire
is in the long run always the decisive one in practice.
So if you like, the reason why you've asked these questions doesn't surprise me,
because we much more,
let's say, whether we're reflective or not,
we know much more about our desires when it comes down to it,
when we're hungry and tired and fed up and so on,
than we do about anything else.
I think you can argue with anyone
until you're black in the face,
even if you won't convince them.
But if they prefer not to know that there really is a God,
then they'll find some way of forgetting and so not knowing,
or at least deciding not to know now.
Well this is true, isn't it Peter?
And never perhaps really attend
to the one thing that deserves more attention than anything else.
I mean it is obviously a primary human dilemma.
Yes Mark?
It's fascinating.
What you just said.
What did you say?
What did you think I just said?
What went through my head was that maybe
we think that
the fact of God's existence
is not
in our desire
is because
I think this goes to what you just said,
because we are not really aware of our desire.
Yes, certainly.
We really are aware, conscious of our desire.
On a level other than just the sense.
Yes, yes, yes.
And maybe it's in that awareness
that we would find...
Well that's why I'm saying that I think this is in fact
a very impressive kind of,
it's a very impressive thing to concede.
In practice, I think in most people's lives
this is the way it works.
That's really what I'm saying.
But of course all I'm asking you to admit is that
Thomas is right in saying you didn't get there at one leap.
Isn't it so?
You didn't get to...
To being able to say,
well it's God I want.
Nobody does really, I think.
As I say of course,
in fact sometimes
people can put this off
for a very long time.
Half a lifetime.
They may get very, very close to it.
And they may quite suddenly be pushed.
It suddenly makes me think
of my very oldest convert,
who was no later than 73.
Who lived,
when eventually I,
she was actually the very toughest convert
that I ever had to deal with.
She was very, very intelligent.
And she fought very, very hard
about this particular issue.
Especially because
she'd been brought up in a very
a very kind of old-fashioned
scientific world,
late 19th century scientific world.
Her father was Lord Berkeley
who was one of the pioneers
in investigation of electricity and things like that.
And she'd been brought up
in an entirely rational world.
And then of course she also said to me,
in fact I think I must tell you
one of the nice stories she told me
just to illustrate
how complex life can be.
She said,
just think, I spent the first 30 years of my life
doing nothing but hunting, shooting, fishing.
Doing what?
Hunting, shooting, fishing.
Lots of country parties,
round the lovely castle.
And so
one day
she also told me
a very worrying kind of thing.
She said, isn't it terrible to think
the very first time she was ever allowed
to travel alone
she was
allowed to go and meet her father
at Calais by crossing
by the boat from Dover.
So she got on the boat
and God said that it was her chair
and she sat down
as every young lady in 1910
The period we're hearing about is just a period.
And she opened her book
and began to read.
after some minutes
she was aware
that somebody was
drawing a chair up
quite close to her.
And although she was
reading the book with some care
she couldn't fail to become aware that
the creature sitting on the chair
was a man.
And then a voice said, good morning.
And so
she said, good morning
and went on with her book.
And the next thing that happened was that he
put his hat and stick
on the chair, walked to the side of the boat
and jumped into the sea.
And he was drowned.
In fact she said, isn't it
perfectly ridiculous? I mean, nowadays
I've just begun to talk to him.
I didn't know what to do.
At thirty
nobody ever told me what to do
in such a situation. She was doing all things
she'd been taught to do
in a very conventional world.
I'm sorry, that's a great distraction.
Distractions almost as absurd
can occur in absolutely everybody's life
in which the kind of really fundamental
even the ordinary human thing
gets missed out somehow.
She died
after a long fight at ninety-six.
Very potent old lady.
Dear Sibyl. Everybody said,
what are you on to Sibyl? She's so different.
So as I say, you can remember
the parable of the sower.
How the seed falls
and so on.
It depends whether it germinates or not.
As I say, none of this amounts to my saying
that St. Thomas is wrong, but I think he's making
a very important kind of concession
in practice. I think it's the one
that mostly works.
Much more than intellectual arguments do.
I think I've
actually never met what I would call
real atheists.
Perhaps they exist, but I haven't
come across them.
Here I fly to the one
of the most memorable of all St. Augustine's
phrases. I forgot I was going to talk
rather a lot about Augustine here.
Da, I meant him.
Eccentric or dinko.
Give me a lover and he will understand.
This phrase of Augustine has the added
advantage that it occurs in the context
in which the act of faith
has been at once free
and yet a gift of God
is being discussed.
This is really why I'm doing this here.
The theology of this
is extremely important.
The act of faith
of a human being, because of the dignity
of the human being,
has to be free and yet it's a gift.
And it occurs
in the splendid sermons St. Augustine gave
on the Gospel of John,
which you must have got this
one translation of, I was thinking
the Library of St. John the Baptist.
And this occurs,
this splendid thing,
give me a lover and he will understand,
it comes in the sermons on John
paragraphs 2 to 4 especially.
The phrase
I've quoted is very near the end of paragraph 4.
Augustine is commenting
on the words of our Lord
in John chapter 6,
verse 44.
Stop telling stories.
No one can come to me
unless the Father who sent me
draws him.
This is Augustine
I'm translating now.
Oh what a tremendous
commendation of grace.
Nobody comes unless he's drawn.
Whom he draws
and whom he does not draw,
why he draws, this one and not
that one, do not wish to decide.
Indeed not.
If you don't wish to be deceived.
Just take it and understand it.
Are you not yet drawn?
Pray that you may be.
What am I saying my brothers?
If we are drawn to Christ, then belief
is involuntary.
So violence to you is not
Anyone can go into church unwillingly,
approach the altar unwillingly, receive the sacrament
unwillingly, but he cannot
believe unless he wishes to.
one believed in the body
that would occur in the
unwilling. But it is not
in the body that one believes. Hear the
apostle. A man believes with his
And what follows?
And he confesses with his lips
and so is saved.
confession or profession
if you like, rises
up from the depths of the heart.
And so
the discussion proceeds
with Augustine searching
psychological awareness.
Alright Jose, you've got
the sense of the argument have you?
I think so.
Augustine is saying you can
pull somebody into church,
do all kinds of things with them, push them
about and so on, but you can't make
them believe unless they want
And he even finds himself
quoting a tag from the Eclogues of Virgil
which says that everyone is
drawn by his delight.
There you are Mark, back to the problem
of yours you see. Everyone is
drawn by delight. Turkish delight
Not necessity
but sheer delight.
Not obligation
but delight.
How much more strongly should we say
that a man is drawn to Christ
who delights in truth, delights
in happiness, delights in our
brightness, delights in eternal life
all of which Christ is.
Oh give me a lover and he will understand
what I'm saying.
Give me someone who desires, who thirsts
wandering and thirsting in his solitude
and sighing for the fountain of the eternal country
give me such a one he will know.
But if I'm speaking
to an iceberg
he will not know what I'm saying.
So were those who
murmur to each other
him whom the father draws
he says comes to me.
Forgive me brothers for going on so.
This I think you'll see is exactly
in line with the thrust of our thought
as devolved in our
discussion just a moment ago
and in these
last few days.
It's moreover exactly what
Vatican II underlines
in chapter one
in chapter one of the constitution
on divine revelation
with which we began.
Just listen again to this from paragraph
His will was that man
should have access to the father through
Christ, the word made
flesh, in the Holy Spirit
and thus become
a sharer in the divine nature
By this revelation
then the invisible God
from the fullness of his love
addresses men
as his friends
It's a very remarkable
church document this
and moves among them
in order to invite and receive them
into his company.
Excuse me father, could you
begin that quote again?
I could.
His will was that
men should have access to the father
through Christ, the word
made flesh, in the Holy Spirit
and thus become
sharers in the divine nature
Peter, 1 Peter
remember? But this revelation
then, by this revelation
then the invisible God from the fullness
of his love addresses men
as his friends
and moves among
them in order to invite
and receive
them into his company.
economy of revelation, I'm still going
on here, this economy of revelation
is realized by deeds and
words which are intrinsically
bound up with each other.
The most intimate truth
with which this revelation gives us
about God and the Salvation Man shines
forth in Christ, who is himself
both the mediator
and sum total of revelation.
So we are back really again to that
Christocentric type of theology
which seems to impose itself
upon us and formed in somewhat
different but highly compatible ways
the minds of both Athanasius
and Henry.
You must forgive me for taking you back again
to a slightly later
passage in that splendid 26th
sermon on John of Augustine.
We have already
in an earlier lecture
heard Augustine
saying why he thinks our situation
is not radically different from those
who actually saw our Lord and heard
him speaking. I remember it was one, I think it was
the first lecture I quoted
those Easter time sermons where our Lord
was saying of course lots of people touched our Lord
and so on but it didn't make any difference.
So really
this is really why the interiority
of this act is of such importance
when you respond
to the invitation
that is there but
not everybody does.
Augustine returns to this point in paragraph
8 of the 26th
sermon on John.
If I, being a man,
teach him who hears my word
the Father also teaches him
who hears his word.
If it is true that the Father
teaches him who hears him
his word.
Ask whom Christ may be
and you will find his word.
In the beginning
was the word.
Not in the beginning God made
the word.
How was it? In the beginning
God made heaven and earth.
You see this is because he is not
a creature. Learn
to be drawn to the Son
by the Father. Let the
Father teach you. Hear
his word. Which
word shall I hear you say?
In the beginning was the word.
Not the word
made but
How should human
beings in their fleshly condition hear
such a word?
Because the word was made flesh
and dwelt among us.
Thus here Augustine, like the recent
Council after him, is pointing to the economy
of salvation.
The pattern, the whole plan
of salvation.
As St. John of Damascus and the Greeks in general
would say.
Here is the conviction of the
undivided Church.
If you like
the Incarnation
occurs as a special
a special way of
presenting an invitation
to us to respond
to fulfillment in God.
Do sit down and enjoy that
sermon. They are all
splendid. They are 26
I think fairly.
Try to get the best translation you can.
I'm not quite sure what there is available
but none of them
too bad actually because St. Augustine
is so good and clear that you
really have to be an awful duffer to make a bad
translation of it.
I think.
of course
neither in the earthly life of Christ
nor now in this hearing
of the Word is it merely
a physical thing that is in question.
It has to be a spiritual
hearing. Going down
to the depths of the heart.
This is something Augustine has faced
in Sermon 19
paragraph 10 of this
same set. In commenting on
the text from John
chapter 5 verse 26
Truly I say to you
the hour is coming and now is
when the dead will hear
the voice of the Son of God
and those who hear will live.
We can readily understand that
they are alive who
unless they were living could not hear
but he does not say that
they hear because they live
but that by hearing they come to life again.
And those who hear
will live.
What then does hearing mean
except attending?
As far as it has anything to do
with the hearing of the ear
not all who hear live
for many hear but do not
By hearing and not believing they do not
by not attending they do not live.
the Word of God, the Son of God
is preached
by whom all things were made
truly by the grace of his choice
taking flesh born of a virgin
a child in the flesh, a youth in the flesh
suffering in the flesh, dying in the flesh
rising in the flesh
ascending in the flesh
promising the resurrection
of the flesh, promising the resurrection
of the soul
the soul before the flesh
the flesh after the soul
Anyone who hears and listens lives
No wonder the penetrating eyes
of Simeon could cause him to say
his nonctimitis
as he took the child
in his arms
in the temple
And on Cadramas day
when these thoughts were germinating
I couldn't help remembering
and John the Baptist helped me to find it
a little bit of that listening
of the church which goes on continuously
in all responses for the vigil of the day
is number two in the
first nocturne
of the Candlemas vigils
which says this very delightful thing
the old man
carried the child
but it was the child who had
the control over the old man
the one whom the virgin conceived
and brought forth, remaining a virgin
in her child bearing, she worshipped
you see everything's turned
upside down
so you see we're in a very strong
tradition of listening and attending
with the heart
the old man carried the child
the child carried the old man
a very
Christocentric kind of theology
Christ being there in the whole mystery
embracing it all
and being so little
in the child too
and because
we found ourselves reaching a rather common
way of feeding our path into theology
in which Christ is really the centre
I shall like to share with you a lovely
passage of a contemporary Romanian
Orthodox theologian whom I've never
met but who the Bishop knows me
in fact he
came to me with a copy of Asking the Fathers
said I'm washing my hair
at the moment but I want you just to write
this book and I'm going to take you back to Romania with it
from the fact that
Christians began to
our Lord as God
and so they had to find a way of explaining
how this could be
because he was known to have been born
and so
Orthodox Christianity
found itself having to say
that the Son was begotten
from all eternity
as Son of the Father
but in time as Son
of his Mother
who is then
very carefully called Theotokos
so she is the one whom
she bears
is God
as well as Man
and she really is
the Mother of the One who is both
God and Man
this is the importance
of the title Theotokos
in the theology I think
but the Holy Spirit is
because if you like
what the Holy Spirit does is
he moves the mind all right
because this is one of the things
promised by our Lord
in the last summer speech
that he would bring all things
past to remembrance
but in fact
he is also
primarily the Spirit of Love
and this is where Gino's
connaturality thing comes in
isn't it
that in fact it's by
living with what is
lovable that we come to know it better
all this
I brought to mind
is the Holy Spirit
gender is it
interpreted as
and I've heard it as referred
to Father Kastner
in the documents of Vatican II
the notes beforehand
Mackenzie I think referred to it
as she
well there are differences
about this of course
what we
I think we can't really
except talking about the Holy Spirit
quite like that
though there is a real problem of course
behind wanting to say that
of course we've got to be able to say
there must be
femininity in God
mustn't there because there's femininity in other things
let's say
there must be in a preeminent way
in a special way
let's say if you like
the mother of God
also God's perfect idea
which is
his immaculate conception
if you like
I suppose the difficulty
we have here is that this requires
the maximum amount of purification
not that I mean sexuality is impure
but it does need
the maximum
amount of purification from most of the
associations at least this word
calls up
except when we get used to
using it in psychological terms
the Greek
the only way I can rationalize that is that
in translating it
it might be a third person
whatever gender
and so you get it
he, she or it for the Holy Spirit
when people refer to it
is there any proper
way of referring to it?
there's no proper way
except by
except by flowing
forth or flowing out
well I mean
do you say the Holy Spirit or do you say it
or he
is an additional
way of talking about it
isn't it
do you think then
referring more to
she is a more popular thing
that or something
well I think we can't say
if you like I suppose
here you've asked me something so difficult
I don't
quite know how to fully deal with it
I mean I'm very interested
I think everybody is nowadays
because as I say we've got to be able to say
that there's some way
in which
let's say it's obvious
I think that
various spiritual writers
not all of them women
Solomon of course does it
at least once
comparing the souls
though God were our mother
and of course it is also in the Old Testament
the prophecy of Isaiah
remember if a mother can
forget her child I will forget
so that God does wish
to be known
as having
the qualities which we associate
with femininity
and of course we do
now we've begun to look into ourselves
rather more
we know that you can't have a man
who is so masculine
he has nothing feminine about him
as Jung so sensibly said
no man would ever be able to talk to a woman
if he hadn't got something in him
which made it possible to understand what it was
to be a woman
that's the minimal thing you have to say about it
especially in our kind of life
you have to say much more than that
because it's very very important
that the
you see
the Holy Spirit is all
notice the traditional language
you know what I would say
as a kind of preliminary reply
notice the traditional language
he's instinctus
all those kinds of things
it's all concerned with instinct
feeling and the movement of love
which is
now this is neither masculine
nor feminine really
it occurs in both
in fact
so that
I mean I've lived with one
person in religious life
who couldn't bear the idea
that one should refer to the soul as feminine
which of course it is
in that it is
all our souls are feminine
towards God
in many ways
aren't they
the mystical bridegroom Christ
the soul is the bride of Christ
whether it be the soul of a woman
or the soul of a man
and it's not
also an accident surely
it's man and woman who were made
in the image of God
it's the two together
it's the pair that make the image
they are together or apart
it seems
this is one of the things
I've had to give up
thinking about it too much
the first two chapters of Genesis
there you get
one thing sequel to another
in the first account
the priestly account
the liturgical poem about creation
you get God making
the pair in his own image
in the second account
the kind of folk tale account
which is the
more primitive kind of text
Adam is made first
and he is not said to be made in the image
but God breathes into him
his life
and then when he is asleep
the woman is taken out of the sign
it's a very sad
paper I haven't been able to give
I'd love to have been able to give you that
because it was extremely well received
and I'm still waiting for it to come
from Berlin, it was delivered in 1975
on the feminine thing
in Augustine
because Augustine
he's very often very much
maligned person
because people think he's responsible for all kinds of terrible things
which in some extent is true
at least they can be derived from him
but he could be very very full of insight
in this kind of thing
and his treatment of the person of Eve
and of the feminine side of ourselves
in the work on Trinity
is very very impressively interesting
at one point I worked it all out
and inevitably of course
it got the room crowded but everybody came
nobody could get in
the door
and I had the very sad experience
when an old professor who was teaching in Rome
said to me, I suppose we'll have to wait till we die
until we get a copy of this
and in fact I think
he did
the next conference I said to
Miss Livingstone in France
I'm bringing a special copy
and she said
I'm sorry to say
he's just died
I'm afraid he will never have it
and I'm sorry
to be so kind of
unprepared for that
for your particular question
but I promise you we will try
to think about this again because I think we've got
to think about this a bit
when we're coming to think about the
about ourselves
a bit more
towards the end of this
but of course
do remember
the further we're getting away
the more we're speculating
very often
the further we're getting away from what is
dogmatic and that's to say
here I'm trying to
show the kind of minimal
things that you've been saying
and in a way you quite rightly want
to go further, this is why
theology is never finished
you can't produce a book
and close it up and say that's all done
there's always something
new to be thought
and this is certainly one of the things
yes, you know, what's happening
you're forgetting something
I don't know where I am
where I have read it
maybe it's in the
church in the Vatican
on the mystery
of the church maybe
but in the
on this we got
a procession
from what I've
gathered, the
son was
that is in time
we got a total expression
of the father and perhaps
it would be
inadequate for us to move from
the analogy of
the procreation
between man and woman
but rather that these things
are a reflection of the
eternal event of
the father expressing
himself totally that is in a
perfect image, his perfect
in his work
and this procession
is the love going on
between the father and the son
which is the Holy Spirit
yes this is the way St. Thomas
sees it of course and that's to say
if you like
what the
knowing of the
father and the son
what proceeds from
this is an
internal relationship
so that each
is giving wholly to the other
this is really
why of course
it's a very exciting dimension
of the realisation
of the life of the Trinity in the soul
the father
is wholly given to the son
and the son wholly
receives from the father
and the Holy Spirit
binds these together
not for
himself but for them
that each one is doing
for the other what the other is not doing
although they are all
the same
but as far as the church is concerned
it's again very important
of course that the church is also
given to the other family
and there of course it's partly because of the
room of the font
where we have gotten
as Christians
Father on the specific question
that Peter raised maybe you can help
because of your knowledge of language
but when it's translated
when Christ refers to the Holy Spirit
it's always translated he
what is that Greek pronoun
I mean can it just as easily
be translated she
I've never investigated it
I must say sufficiently
to be able to answer that question
because it's neuter isn't it
in Greek
is it neuter in Greek
is that how it's translated
I don't really know whether the word
pneumo is invariably used
in the New Testament I don't know
we'd have to look this up in the Greek
New Testament to be quite sure
I have Greek
accordance of that kind in my room
I'd certainly knew commandedly
but that's not a long way
have you got Greek accordance here
have you got schmaus here
do you know what it is
I think we better say
we will try to postpone an answer
about this until
we can look into this
I suspect that
there's a combination of tradition
based on language
here almost certainly
it seems to me that the
kind of traditional words
of course one of the complaints
as you know
that something is the same
it's all a very
masculine kind of religion
isn't really true
because there is a feminine aspect
but it hasn't
nobody has yet succeeded
in bringing it forward satisfactorily
it's likely
one of the things which sort of failed to be done
with counsel
for very special sorts of reasons
there were many people who really
in anticipation
I think
wanted a document on the relation
of Our Lady to the life of the Spirit
which in fact never got drawn up
because I think
quite rightly
it was found to be much more necessary
to situate Our Lady within
the picture of the Church
so that she does become the type of every soul
because she is both Virgin and Mother
and that's say if you like
the way
our own
whether we are
married or celibate
we must be virginal towards God
as St. John Christensen
rightly notes, St. Paul is
talking to the married
explicitly to the married when he says
I was baptised as a
Chaste Virgin to Christ
because of course
there's one thing you can't give
to anybody else, however dearly
you love them, that is the kind of
the deep centre
of your own spirit and conscience
which must remain
espoused to God
if you can't
be true to anybody else in love
and if you separate these two
your own integrity
the best thing you can give them
and you can't give that away
and of course
all love relationships tend to foster
for this reason
so there are all kinds of areas
in our own life
where we desperately need to be aware
of everything
especially in our own
relationship to a soul
I've never been able to think of an
adequate, I've been faced with this
occasionally before
never really had time to think about
but it does seem to me that
to make the departure
of this kind from
traditional language
requires very solid reasoning behind it
don't you think?
I think this is on the whole the way we ought
to proceed as in theology
out of wisdom
we shouldn't
think that the questions are necessarily settled
but we have
to take notice of what has been done
because very often
there's a kind of prudence
a kind of wisdom behind it
which we can't afford to throw away
Yes, going back to this
there is a
blending aspect of God
which I think this is
more because of
the influence of Jung
in psychology
I think we might recall
part of the Gospel
where in our Lord said
I gather you
like a hand gathered
there's no doubt about it
there's plenty of scriptural
support for this
but it seems to me that the above
refers to the Holy Spirit more
of course
in a masculine and besides
I reason out this way
since the Holy Spirit
is equal to the Father and the Son
it seems to me of course
this is just my reasoning
that it cannot be that
being equal to the Father
and the Son
that the Holy Spirit
is a feminine
it cannot be
the Church is the feminine
aspect that is
the Church is always referred to
as the Bride of Christ
yet in God himself
there is He
in the fullness that is the One
the fullness cannot be
cannot be
that is the Holy Spirit
feminine or other
but it seems to me that being
of both the masculine and feminine
and it is only time
when there is appropriation
yes of course what you've raised there
is really of course I suppose
the next thing to be said is that
in fact when we're using the word masculine
here we don't mean that
except in a negative sense
because God is not male
any more than female
in fact
but doesn't the reasoning then
that the necessity of complementarity
is in a sense
a false situation
within God
within God
in other words
they don't have to
balance an equation
I think that's quite true
though I suppose it is because
it's precisely because
this is what makes
all the time
so difficult to think about
really is that
in us there's no doubt about it
this particular function
psychologically speaking
is of extreme importance
and so I can see why
people are concerned about this
but I'm sure
you have really put your finger on
this thing, on the fundamental thing
we shouldn't
forget that we've
explicitly said in talking about the Trinity
we're always talking in terms of analogy
and really
there is no
God as
one is beyond
all our conceiving
is beyond male and female
and as it is of course in the course of
Christ himself
in Christ
there is neither male nor female
it doesn't mean to say that they're
denied, it means you go right up
through them of course
that's the important thing
St. Paul is not saying
that male and female are not valuable
but that they are
on exactly equal terms
yes Peter, come on
I was thinking of the time
but I wanted to switch to something else
do, please
ok, um
we've got 3 minutes
according to Father Abbott's timing
we're supposed to be at 12 past 4
well, talking about
the pre-existence
Christ is
not born of a human
mother and rises to
his divinity, he's already divine
yes, exactly
and Jesus
in his
preaching and healing
to me
he's already conscious of his mission
and he's fulfilling
the Father's mission
to preach the kingdom
and at least myself
I'm writing across articles
or at least I'm
hearing about this whole idea
of Jesus
not being fully
conscious of his
I know, because you can see
I've already expressed my divinity
about that way of talking
it seems to me, first of all, we can't know
what the consciousness of such a person
could be like
it's difficult enough for us to know each other's consciousness
if you and I spend the rest of this week
in a room, I bet you we won't
get very far
even if we're trying very seriously
and how do you know
what the consciousness of somebody
who is human and divine is like
I just think it's very significant
that the church has not so far
been able to get
to a dogmatic
definition about humanity
except concerning the will
Do you think these statements
then, like
attaching masculinity
and femininity and consciousness
are throw-ups from our own
experience, that we look for
solutions in the divine?
Well, to some extent it must be
probably, but I think
we must say that there were certainly
conscious, we must do that
obviously, he had consciousness
for a while, and it must have been human
consciousness too
I think what is so difficult to conceive
is how
on earth
a consciousness is going to action
in a human being
who is also divine
and that's to say
if you like, turning back
on ourselves
is itself already obscure enough
in our ordinary human experience
but I can't see
how we're going to have any means
of judging
whether what we say is true or false
in this particular case
if we speculate about it
because I don't see what criteria
we can possibly use
do you?
That sort of ties in with something that I was
interested in
if I heard you right, is that with Christ speaking
in the scriptures
it has to be determined whether he's
speaking as God or man?
Yes, this is what all the fathers will say
and all the theologians will say
So, how many, that must
cause quite a lot of
doesn't it?
There are certain passages where it does
That's obviously
There are certain passages where it does
except that I suppose
we can say that on the whole
the traditional view of the thing
is that the context
makes itself obvious
makes each of these cases
To say that
that there are times when Jesus
speaks as man and times when he speaks
as God
would not that imply
what Fr. Peter was asking about
that there is
a definite consciousness?
Well, as I've just said to you on purpose
I think we've got to say there is a consciousness
we certainly have to admit that
it is so
otherwise there couldn't be
the God and against him
and it would be meaningless wouldn't it
and there must be a conflict there
and there was apparently
a conflict of will
as far as we can see
because the natural will
of all of us
all human beings is for life
and when you're 30 you're not ready to die
except by a special grace
so that's
I suppose
it's something to do with this
that it was necessary
to insist that our Lord
had a human will
and this is the one defined thing there is
about the human nature
this doesn't mean to say
you can't speculate about this
just like just about anything
there is a lot but I think
the thing to bear in mind
it seems to me that the difficulties
are largely imaginative ones
because we can't really
imagine what it can be like
to be this sort of a person
I think
Romano Bordini in his book
The Humanity of Christ
addresses himself to that question
about the consciousness
and I think he
that's one of his main conclusions
it's impossible to even conceive
I've spent a lot of time thinking about this
and I can't get any further
this is where the words become a barrier
in the end
you're just trying
to beat your head
against the conceivable
I suppose
when we say
for instance that all theologians do
as you see these early ones do too
that our Lord
actually becomes incarnate
so that he can suffer
because God the Father can't suffer
we then are
still not
quite clear
how a conflict situation arises
because it doesn't
our Lord apparently doesn't struggle not to go to sleep
because he feels tired
he eats when he feels hungry
and so on
he says he's thirsty when he's thirsty
so all those kinds
of consciousness appear to function
just as we
experience them
it's very much more difficult to know
what happens on the cross
and the report
the different reports of what our Lord actually said
on the cross do make it extremely
mysterious what was
going on
it depends how you hear the words of course
and what they seem to say
there's no doubt on that
there's a real death
and it's a death in agony
of some kind
offered to the Father
which of course has been
communicated and made possible
also for other people
in the case of the martyrs
I'm sorry not to go any further than this
I will try to look into the question
I'm fascinated that you have brought up
at this particular point
the business of the Holy Spirit
I'll try to look into this
a bit but I can't promise to get very far
I think this is perhaps an area
where a little bit more progress might be made
than I feel optimistic
about I'm making about the First of the Sun
because as I say
I just seem to do fine
as Marcus said in his book
which is of course a very
traditional theologian which I
find myself I suppose in this way
it is very difficult for me to see how
this is going to be
anything other than
most of the things most people want to say
are going to be projections
you see one of the hindrances
also to moving ahead very far
is the
statement on the letter of the Hebrews
that our Lord was like us in everything
except sin
so although
there is nothing very clearly defined about this
in the documents of the Church
it is not possible
to say that our Lord has the
of what it is to sin
but he knows what sin is
there are lots of quite innocent
people too actually
but he in a very special degree
you see and one of the sort of problems
I suppose about
what did Adam and Eve do
at the fall
I'm going to leave this fairly open
I can assure you when we get to this on Wednesday
at least as far as I've got at the moment
what it was they did
it does look as though
there was some kind of interior
some kind of interior act
as though they were
actually seduced by the Jesuits
and they would become God
in other words they would become a closed system
of their own
whereas I think what we are going to have to say
about man dogmatically
is that
the whole call to
the whole purpose of Revelation
and the call to
sanctification and to holiness
means that we are open
to relationship
in love
with God
and also with all apparently all other people
who are capable of this too
and this is a
very big kind of thing
whereas sin in fact closes you in more and more
so you become more and more
your own world, only me
I think
in many
Father Bernard Lonergan
the area
I mean not that we can
pin Christ down
but I think he really
opens this area
where Lonergan
got his
insight into
the cognitional structure
is the thing
of beginning the word
I think this is true
in the procession of the Holy Spirit
I'm not sure that I understand
it though
I think you are absolutely right in what you are saying
but I'm not sure that I understand what he said
It's very very difficult
I think
Don't you?
Oh yes, but I'm not saying that I understand either
but I'm just saying that I think
it goes
I think
it goes
kind of in the same
awareness as the movement
of the heart maybe
in a certain way it is
because you just said
that Christ
didn't sin but he experienced
and I've often
thought of that myself
so he himself
too, he gets
like, I mean he was like us
Yes, well I think what we can of course
say is that our Lord had compassion
this is very explicitly said
in the Gospel
he was moved by the needs of people
and so on
and the word compassion
is the passion that I have
with something
con always means with something
so I go down into the experience
with the other person by compassion
so there is that element certainly there
but that is a movement of love isn't it really
but one which
also is accompanied by understanding
or perhaps understanding
is it's product, I'm not quite sure which way
round it works to you
do you remember how it works in Norvig and Thorpe
what are you asking
does the understanding of compassion
is it the fruit
of going down in love
with the other one
or is it the other way around
I think it is actually
this is the way it comes to me
this is why
as far as I've ever gotten Norvig
and I've always wondered whether there isn't some deep flaw
in the argument
which I don't see
it may be something that I just don't understand
but it could be
there is also something a bit funny about it
because I'm not the only person
who feels this
and people I regard as
more intelligent than I am
have the same difficulty about it
I think
well I think maybe the difficulty
is this
in this area of our own
understanding how
it's tremendously difficult
because of course
on the whole I suppose we feel
most comfortable and we grow most
when we can also
and feel
by affinity
although words
are needed
something more is going on
just from what I gather
I don't think a person has to
sin in order to understand sin
in fact I think it's just the opposite
because our Lord was so pure
that he could understand
sin better than anyone
and I think a virgin understands the sin of impurity
much more than a person
often to that sin
they don't understand anything
including sin
so it seems to me that Christ
did not experience sin at all
but he knew
the destruction
and the death of sin
I suppose what I was saying
we can't say the experience
of sin is precise
that the side effects
of sinning
which you quite correctly mentioned
are in fact blinding
they actually do
I mean I can
think of one sort of case
of somebody who was
in a rather grave kind of situation
saying I think that boy
would blow my nose
and that's exactly what habitual
kinds of rather grave
sins make people feel like
when they've deadened themselves enough
at the same time
I think don't you think
a child's first experience
of what it is to do something wrong
is a very vivid
kind of experience indeed
I suppose some people
would feel that
certain kinds of interior experiences
of what sin is
can't have been
part of our lives
certainly he could have understood them
with the mind but
that's not what we quite mean by experience
isn't it
with experience
he endured temptation
yes he endured temptation
so this is concerned with the will
isn't it, it's concerned with choice
because that's the element
the key element in sin is
is choice
because if you have no
choice you can't sin
stage then would the conflict of will
that you spoke of in terms of the garden of
what in the process of
coming to a choice
where would that conflict occur
well I suppose
we can only place it on the human side
by saying that
it always occurs
when the human will
closes itself
to what God asks
and says no
the conflict
from the will of the intellectual
the will
yes the will
the two wills that have to be brought
into conformance
with the will of the Father
yes and that's
I think you see
if you're looking at it in a very
Thomas kind of way
Thomas' conception
of the will
one of the first
of nature
is the instinct of every creature to preserve
its own life
and this is
unless you're sick
you ought to want to live
in fact
this is very extraordinary
I remember reading once
the last journalist
who'd been a doctor
during the course of the 1914 war
said a very very
extraordinary thing
how men
could survive where rats would die
and somewhere
the other day I read
a case of
yes, oh yes, it was Julian Reed
telling how his father had heard
a young
soldier saying to a doctor
don't let me die
and the doctor said you must die
I can't help it
but in fact the young man lived
because the will to life is very very strong
indeed it's extraordinary
it's a natural force, it's enormously potent
and it's led to itself
not quite
to itself apparently but it's enormously
I think we've a cop manachure
I think we've a cop manachure
I think we've a cop manachure
It's enormously potent, isn't it?
and indeed