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Sophia/Wisdom lecture




And let me try to tell you in a few words what I want to propose to you, the thesis.
And that is the urgency of discovering for people also who are working in the missions,
the discovery of an emerging, a re-emerging Christian wisdom tradition from which we've
been alienated largely in the West for a long time, but which is now coming forth once again,
perhaps with new depth and new breadth, with new consistency at any rate.
That this tradition, if we can reconnect with it, will offer us two things, which are very
important for us, I think, also in mission work.
First of all, a deeper point at which to make contact with the other cultures into which
we're thrown, into which we find ourselves in mission countries, attempting to communicate
the Gospel to them.
And secondly, a new vision, an alternative vision of the Church, which will give a context
of meaning for our activity, will enable us in some way to understand what we're doing,
to understand the ultimate significance of what we're doing, and even give us some light
on what to do and how to do it.
So it's largely a question of context, Christianity, something that is no longer common, our mainline
Our starting point, our problem, has been expressed as one of balance, to find the balance
between action and contemplation in our lives.
And this is just as real a problem for people in a monastery as it is for missionaries,
even though it's more difficult for the missionaries, because so much tends to fight against that
Can we change the terms and express the problem as one of finding the central point between
action and contemplation, or finding the hole within which these two poles exist?
And here I begin to maybe risk sounding like I'm talking about a kind of myth, the myth
of the whole, the myth of a totality of Christianity, but that's my contention really, that there
is such a thing, that that's the real Christianity.
I want to suggest that the balance comes best from a vision of the whole, and that we find
ourselves coming from a position of partial vision at our present time.
We're coming from a contracted theology, a defensive Tridentine theology that wasn't
able to allow the whole to be seen, either the whole Christian mystery or the whole of
creation, or the whole of humanity, as a matter of fact, the whole of the human person,
the various potentials of the human person.
The Church is... it's as if the Church has been in shock since the Renaissance, and the
Reformation, of course.
What had to be insisted upon was a solid Catholic identity, based on the limits of the institutional
Anything else was outside the pale in one way or another, and we cut ourselves off from
it, and thereby we have a very sharp sense of identity, but a very meager sense of humanity,
a very meager sense, actually, of the Christian mystery.
And at the present time, we seem to be coming to the end of this.
Of course, we're fairly far out of the tunnel, as far as our head is concerned.
I mean, we can look around, we can see a lot more than we could see 30 or 40 years ago.
We seem to be in the middle of a kind of double catastrophe, the collapse of this ecclesiastical
Now, here I mean theologically speaking, because the actuality of the shell remains,
and it also remains in the minds and the psyches of many, many Catholics, as well as people
But we begin to be able to see beyond it, to relativize it, to see that Christianity
is much bigger than the Christianity we have known, that the Church, actually, is much
bigger than the Church that we have known, and also that our relationship with God is
a much more immediate thing than often we've been led to believe.
At the same time, we're watching the near collapse, at least the shaking, of a worldview
which came into existence around the time of the Enlightenment, and which we might call
the Cartesian or the Newtonian paradigm, and which has contributed very much to the fragmentation
of our minds.
So on one side, we have a kind of over-integral vision of the institutional Church and the
way that it thought of itself, and the way that it thought of the Christian history,
in a kind of very sharp, distinct, hard, and brittle, nearly, image of the Church, and
also of Christ.
This is true, whether in Catholicism or in a different way, in Protestantism, especially
Fundamentalist Protestantism.
And on the other side, we have this worldview being called into question now, which had
invited us, and persuaded us, to see everything as being atoms, everything as being billiard
balls colliding against one another.
The presence of God is in us.
There's an anointing, as John says in his first fellowship, that is with us all the
time, and it doesn't require official sanctions.
And we know that the grace of God works also very largely around and outside the sacraments
and outside the scriptures, and is flowing all over, is everywhere.
And also, there's the near collapse of another worldview, which is our kind of Newtonian
or Cartesian worldview of the fifth century, the Enlightenment, Western point of view.
The people who talk about the New Paradigm today are fond of celebrating the near death
of this old one.
It may be dying in the minds of a certain elite, of course, but it's very much alive
in our scientific world still, but also in our business world, in our world of politics
and so on.
Both missionaries and those in the contemplative life have experienced a crisis, I think, in
the past thirty years, or any time without a conclusion.
That's obvious enough.
I think that a lot of things that used to work, we've found don't work anymore.
Some of them, maybe they never did, but we thought they did.
And then new things have opened up that we really didn't have permission to do before,
that we wouldn't have dared to do before, and they lead us beyond our old ways of thinking.
Q. I think you talked about twofold collapse, like the official term for it, is a new collapse
of another worldview.
A. Okay, that other worldview.
Typical is what's happened in physics in the past fifty years or so.
With the coming of quantum mechanics and relativity and so on, the old Newtonian physics.
I remember reading that some physicist, I believe he was an English physicist, at the end of
the 19th century said, well, there are only about three problems still to be solved in
physics, and then we'll have it all explained.
And then that fell apart, and then that becomes ludicrous, you know, a little while afterwards,
because they come up with a whole new view, which makes that mechanical version of the
universe only a kind of tool within certain limits, and then the world leaks out outside
it, and the world is much more subtle, and the world is much more dynamic than that.
And so that pattern, that worldview, has given way to something much larger, and something
much more mysterious, something that brings us all the time to the boundary of mystery,
rather than the known, rather than that awful feeling that we know it all, or know it almost
all, and the rest of it we'll have solved within a few years as soon as we get our equations
There won't be any more mystery.
And that's funny.
It's funny, but it's an awful box to be in.
Now, that paradigm, that way of thinking of things mechanically, goes a lot further than
just physics.
We tend almost instinctively to think that way.
We think that way, the idea of ourselves as being a bunch of individuals sort of bouncing
off one another.
The whole free enterprise system, the system of unlimited competition, and things like
that, a complete lack of sense of the whole, a complete lack of unitive sense of everything
being somehow one thing, and having a center, and having a meaning beyond the kind of statistical
result of individuals bouncing off one another.
I'm kind of caricaturing the whole thing as a sort of billiard ball vision, but much of
it is that way.
There was understanding without meaning, knowledge without ultimate meaning, and a kind of randomness
about it all.
Now, when this happens, we're confused for a while, we're disoriented, but then we discover
that we've been liberated also, and that we're once again in touch with mystery, and we once
again find the way open to the discovery of our Christian mystery in its fullness.
Paul talks about knowing the length and the breadth and the height and the depth, that
kind of thing.
The joy and the excitement of knowing this Christ who reaches everywhere, who has no
limits, who is intimately present to us and reaches into the extremes of the universe,
and we're always discovering his traces, as it were.
Teilhard was one who was on fire with this kind of excitement, and his vision sort of
lies behind a lot of this.
He'll talk about a new way of looking at things.
He's a very typical, really prophetic figure in that regard, seeing beyond the old Newtonian
thing, as well as beyond those kind of ecclesiastical boundaries, and that's why he had to speak
so softly.
Now, a lot of you have had contact with other cultures, and this may be something we can
talk about in the discussion.
To what extent do you discover that you're running into wisdom traditions?
Certainly it's true in the East.
To what extent do you discover that there's a strange dislocation or imbalance, or embarrassment,
let us say, in encountering these other cultures with our contemporary Christian theology, let
us say, and finding out that there's a depth there somehow which out-distances us?
There's a depth which is difficult to deal with.
There's a depth which we're not adequate to, even though in Christ we have this ultimate
Somehow there's a difficulty in communicating it, because our culture has left us somehow
dried up on the beach.
It hasn't given us an equivalent depth.
It hasn't given us a language or a consciousness with which to communicate Christ, or with
which to comprehend Christ, or to assimilate Christ, or to be, how shall we say, absorbed
into Christ.
Anyhow, there's that problem.
And what my suggestion is, is that the solution lies in the direction of rediscovering Christianity
at the point before it divided and fragmented and got shallow, and that that's still possible.
In other words, it is possible, once again, to find, to learn a Christian wisdom.
Now, here we have to be careful, because I'm talking about a kind of wisdom theology.
There's a Christian wisdom in the elderly person who is simply sitting in front of the
Blessed Sacrament.
There's a Christian wisdom in faith, and in the simple life of faith, and that really
is the ultimate wisdom, I think.
This other thing is something that's more in the mind.
Nevertheless, it's extremely important for us, this vision.
Faith contains it all somehow, faith contains it all implicitly, but we desperately need
to bring it out explicitly, to allow it to manifest itself, to once again have a theology
and a consciousness which has these dimensions.
What do I mean by wisdom?
Well, a way of knowing and of communicating knowledge which is much more unitive than
our usual way of doing it, and much more, that means much more holistic, much more total,
and also much more human in a way.
It's not as objective and analytical as our normal mode of discourse.
We've become very much people of prose, I think.
Prose is like the typical language of the modern West, but I don't know if other peoples
know about prose in the same way.
I think they have to discover it, and then their last thoughts become prosaic, perhaps.
But prose is a mode of discourse, and I'm talking about a kind of matter-of-fact newspaper
prose, which is really beneath the level of the human person, in a way.
It's a kind of surface which doesn't carry the richness of the human person with it.
But we'll talk more about that later.
I had a text from Merton, this marvellous thing of his.
He's got a book called Gandhi on non-violence, and in the beginning of it he talks about Gandhi
and the one-eyed giant.
Now, the one-eyed giant is the West.
The white man, says Lawrence Van Der Post, came into Africa, and Asia and America for
that matter, like a one-eyed giant, bringing with him the characteristics split and blindness
which were at once as strength as torment in his ruin.
With his self-isolated and self-scrutinising individual mind, Western man was master of
concepts and abstraction.
He was the king of quantity and the driver of those forces over which quantitative knowledge
gave him supremacy without understanding.
Because he ruled matter without understanding it, he faced his bodily self as an object
which he could not comprehend, though he could analyse and tamper with its every part.
He submitted to passions which, though he no longer regarded them as devils, were nevertheless
inscrutable and objective forces flying at him from the dark outside the little circle
illumined by a pragmatic and self-complacent moral reason.
William Blake was already talking in those terms.
I forget his expression, but this narrow sort of over-rational tunnel of mind that we have
had in the modern West.
The one-eyed giant had science without wisdom, and he broke in upon ancient civilisations
which, like the medieval West, had wisdom without science.
Wisdom which transcends and unites.
Wisdom which dwells in body and soul together, and which, more by means of myth, of rite,
of contemplation, than by scientific experiment, opens the door to a life in which the individual
is not lost in the cosmos and in society, but found in them.
Wisdom which made all life sacred and meaningful, even that which later ages came to call secular
and profane.
It is true that neither the ancient wisdoms nor the modern sciences are complete in themselves.
They do not stand alone, they call for one another.
Wisdom without science is unable to penetrate the full sapiential meaning of the created
and material cosmos.
But also, wisdom without science, unfortunately, ignores certain very important things like
social structures, structures of oppression and of inequality and things like that.
Wisdom often, in these ancient cultures, can glide right by and spiritualize everything,
not find an inner spiritual meaning and then ignore what's the beggar in the street right
before its face.
So that's the other side.
Now, science goes along with a critical mind which also gives you a realistic gospel, a
gospel which demands justice, and perhaps that's even more important than this other
Science without wisdom leads man enslaved to a world of unrelated objects in which there
is no way of discovering or creating order and significance in man's own pointless existence.
The vocation of modern man was to bring about their union in preparation for a new age.
The union of the ancient wisdom and the kind of unitive knowledge of the total human being,
together with this rational science which is part of the vocation of Western man.
The marriage was wrecked on the rocks of the white man's dualism and of the inertia, the
incomprehension of ancient and primitive societies.
Now, that white man's dualism went on to be explained at length.
It means a religious dualism, but also a dualism of mind and matter, for instance, and a dualism
which is always thinking of things in a mechanical, exclusive term, as not as interpenetrating
or deeply united, but always as separate entities colliding with one another.
Okay, that's just a sample of what he has to say very incisively on that topic, which
is before us today.
Is it possible, then, that we can somehow grasp our own faith, the Christian mystery,
at a point before it divides, before it fragments, at a unitive point, like the trunk of a tree
before the branches begin to separate and go out in their own directions?
Now, if we do it, we won't do it by simply reaching back into history and grasping a
tradition, say, at some medieval point, at some point in patristic time, in the first
six centuries of the Church, or even in the New Testament times.
That won't do, won't do.
It keeps, in a kind of crude way, coming to mind that we seem to have three revelations,
all right?
One I call the cosmic revelation, and that's the revelation which you find of the imminent
divinity, let us say, in the ancient religious traditions of the East.
And it's a question simply of entering into the interiority of one's own being, and of
the being of everything that is, of the universe.
And there's a unitive sense about that.
And then there's another revelation that comes crashing into the world, and that's the revelation
in the Word of God, in the history of the Jewish people, and finally in Jesus, who
does come into the world like a sword.
The revelation through the Word, and finally through the Word incarnate.
The revelation which seems to set itself off against that other revelation, to raise itself
up, as it were, in sharp profile, and claim a kind of exclusiveness and singularity.
And from that, in some way, comes much of the dividedness that we experience.
But then we've got another revelation which becomes, and I'm not talking theological language
strictly, but especially today, when you see the earth, that little globe on a postage
stamp, when you realize the crisis of nuclear threat, when you can watch on television somebody
in Cambodia, or somebody in Africa, or Reagan in Gorbachev in Moscow, or something like
that, and you realize that the world has suddenly experientially become one, and that humanity
rediscovers its own unity, whether it likes it or not.
It's compelled to rediscover it, that all human beings are in some way one, deeply one,
just as the earth is one, just as the earth is a kind of center which makes us all one,
because we're the creatures that crawl upon it.
That same unity, that same roundedness, that same globality is within us, and interiorly
somehow we're one also.
Now, that I would call the unitive revelation, which is there in the beginning of the Bible,
remember, in the first three chapters of Genesis, in Adam and Eve, where in the story of Adam
all human beings, all human life comes from one individual, and from one of them.
And then it confronts us again in the New Testament, when Paul talks about Adam and
Christ, remember, and as sin and death come into the world through one, one who is the
begetter, the progenitor, the father of all, so grace and the life of God come into the
world through one, through one who is Christ.
Now, he's the one humanity altogether.
Now it confronts us in a different way, coming from outside of ourselves, as it were, today,
in this kind of planetization, as some people talk about it.
When the world is suddenly coming to a consciousness as one world, when people can even talk about
the world in terms of the old goddess Gaia as being one living being, having one life,
there's a lot of truth in it, there's a lot of truth in it, however we understand it.
Okay, so this sort of third revelation, which I call a unitive revelation, is like the revelation
of the goal of history, just by what we see in front of ourselves.
And the knowledge, the unitive knowledge, the unitive intuition that we have at the
ground of our consciousness, and that comes into being visibly when we meet one another,
when we meet the stranger, when we meet the person of another culture, of another religion,
and so on, we're already one even before we begin to talk.
And the more we talk, the more perhaps we forget that we are one, that oneness that
we know in the silence, that we know in meditating silently together, but that easily becomes
fractured and fragmented, slivered when we begin to talk to one another.
The division of languages is just a symbol of that, in a sense.
The old story of the Tower of Babel, and the splitting of languages, and the inability
to understand one another, and the forgetfulness of our original unity.
Okay, when we find the centre in Christianity, we also discover a new pluralism within Christianity,
and therefore movement and freedom, something that we were without for quite a while.
When the Church seemed like a monolith, seemed like a kind of obligatory institution for
everybody, and just to be inside it and to obey the rules maybe was sufficient.
And now, of course, I'm speaking very crudely.
But we begin to find that there are different dimensions within Christianity, and remember
the Apostles.
The Apostles were not the lovely twins, they had lots of differences between one another,
Peter and Paul and James, and they walked, as it were, in different directions, and expressed
these different facets of the mystery of Christ.
I always like to use a very simple kind of pattern for this.
The four of us.
I have quite a number of pictures, not too many to show you.
I'll put James over here.
On the opposite side, Paul.
Here, John.
And here, Peter.
And the three sort of inner circle of Apostles that Jesus takes in special moments in his
own inner circle.
James, John, and Peter.
They go with him at the healings of the little girl and at the Transfiguration, and all of
a sudden get some of those three of them.
And Paul, ripped out of the womb on timely or something like that, as he says, somehow
fits in and completes this work.
Even though he wasn't there at those moments, his presence is a presence spiritually, somehow,
by his own experience of Christ.
Now, what these four express, let me see if I can put it, brevity and clarity, is four
dimensions of the Christian mystery.
Somehow a simple shape in things, you know, in history and also in the mystery of Christ.
It may seem too simple in a way, but it's there.
Of course, it'll move on.
These things, if you attach one term over here, it'll slip over to the other side and
so on.
In other words, it stands.
Peter is the rock, he's the foundation, he's the incarnational, institutional root of the
Church, the stone that's sunk into the earth and who somehow represents humanity itself,
a very human individual, a very fleshly individual, and a very incarnate aspect of Christianity,
of Christ.
In contrast to him, you have John the mystic, the one who has this unit of knowledge, the
one who somehow sees everything with the worthy eye of the eagle.
Remember those four creatures that they used to attach to the four of angels, the eagle,
the ox, the man, and the lion.
So, John is the eagle.
John is the one who has the unit of the mystical and contemplative knowledge of God, sees everything
in that light, and can almost at points forget the incarnate level, and who similarly has
a freedom of spirit, which is very strange and can be shocking to Peter, and those two
are continually in tension.
Now, on another level, this is sort of the vertical dimension, or in the ontological dimension,
call it that.
We have where the created is down here, and we have the divine up here in some way.
It's going to be beyond the terms that I've put on it.
The horizontal axis between James and John is the historical dimension.
And here we have James, the man of the law, the archetypal James, whether it was the brother
of the Lord, the brother of John, whatever.
The man of the law, of a Jewish Christianity, of the word, and of a religion of obedience,
a religion of conformity, and of rigid virtue.
And here you have Paul, the man who puts the law behind himself, as it were, and moves
out towards the Gentiles.
So the direction of this work is from east to west here, and to a Christianity which
is based on freedom, as Paul puts it.
Whatever may come up later in the class, this is the basic message that Paul in Galatians
meant in Romans.
The Christianity is liberation from the law.
It's a new interiority which makes it possible to live from inside out, rather than conforming
to a bunch of external statutes, and which breaks through every cultural wall, which
is able to move, which is able to move out to the uttermost bounds of the earth and to
somehow plant itself as a seed, incarnate itself within every culture, such as its simplicity,
its freedom, its mobility, and grasp.
Now Paul is a theologian who has sketched that out for us.
So that's the gospel of Christian freedom, and this is the gospel of Christian obedience,
if you can call obedience a gospel.
This is the institutional root, the foundation, and this is the mystical depth, you can say,
because the altitude here is also depth.
Well, a lot of things can be discussed and explained, I think, by reference to those
different dimensions, but all that I want to illustrate now is this pluralism.
For instance, if you look at the divisions within the churches, you've got a church of
Peter, which is an institutional church, which is a Roman church.
You've got a church of Paul, which is Protestantism.
You've got a Jewish or Semitic Christianity, which we've got far behind ourselves now,
in the early centuries of the church.
And you've got an Eastern Christianity, an Orthodox Christianity, which really has a
Joannine theology and a Joannine religion, and that point of view.
However, it may turn out in practice.
Those things are within Christianity, and also you find them outside.
For instance, this dimension is very strong in the religion of the youth, in Hinduism
and Buddhism.
There was a Brazilian bishop at our general chapter last year who spoke to us.
He'd come from the Synod that was going on at the same time in Rome, and he talked to
us for half an hour or so, and as he did, he was about to give a talk on the role of
the laity in the church.
It's a curious subject, because the laity are the church.
He had to be very cautious in the way that he spoke.
But when he talked to the community, he sketched out this marvelous vision of the encounter
of Christianity, the encounter of the gospel or the church, with the different movements,
the different cultures, the different dimensions of today.
And this changed a little bit as I thought about it and remembered it since.
But this is the way it appears to me at present, the encounter with Asia and its religious
traditions, and the challenge of depth of contemplative knowledge.
I don't know if any of you, probably not, have read that book of Panikkar, Bliss and
Simplicity, about monasticism, where he asks what the meaning of monasticism is.
What's the monk about?
And he says, well, the monk is concerned with the center.
And then he defines the center in a most mysterious way.
The center is a point, the center of our being, which is a point of emptiness, a point of
nothingness, but everything revolves around it.
Now, in our own tradition, our biblical tradition, that would be the heart.
That would be the heart.
He doesn't talk about it in quite those sanguine terms.
He talks about it in a more metaphysical way.
Anyway, that's what I mean by this encounter, though.
That encounter with a non-dualistic, a non-dual knowledge, and with the depth dimension of
the human person, and of human understanding.
Now, on the other hand, you have the encounter with the Latin peoples, and the challenge
of liberation of the gospel preached truly to the poor, of the emergence of the human
Those are two encounters which awaken two very strong dimensions within the gospel that
easily are forgotten by us.
That liberation one can be suppressed for centuries and centuries and centuries.
It would go complacently along, bringing these social structures of oppression on right inside
the Church.
The encounter with Europe and the North American cultures, with the post-Christian peoples
in a way, and the values of democracy and reason and science and human autonomy, human
freedom, from another angle than we find it in the Latin countries.
The challenge to offer an adult Catholicism in which the human personality can develop
and at the same time retain its faith, at the same time remain within the faith.
So many people have had to chuck their religion in order to grow up.
This has happened also to people in religious communities.
That shouldn't happen.
Christianity should also have something to say to the grown-up, to the adult, to the
person with a developed mind, and the person who is living a life of freedom.
If Christianity can't do that, well, then it's not worth much.
But it can if we look back.
And then finally, the encounter with the emergence of woman.
I don't remember if the Brazilian bishop talked about this one, but the feminine.
This is something that's happening very much today.
Here, in some way, I think we find the Church challenged to rediscover its own identity.
And something very deep about humanity, not just about woman, but about humanity itself,
is coming out here, which really may overturn our whole way of thinking.
This may be the deepest of all of these challenges, of all of these encounters.
Because remember, it reaches right inside each of us.
It's planted right in our biology.
Maybe it's the deepest distinction between human beings.
But a distinction which, like the distinction of the persons in eternity, is also a circumcession,
as we know now that the masculine and feminine dwell within each of us in a kind of polarity,
in a kind of interplay.
And maybe that is the division, that masculine-feminine polarity,
which really is the key to revelation.
Is it possible that God's ultimate language of revelation is sexuality,
is a masculine-feminine polarity?
Remember where in Genesis, God says,
He made them in His image, masculine-feminine, male and female He made them.
In His image, male and female.
Now, is it possible that the ultimate language of God in revelation is humanity?
If you think of the Old Testament and that of Christianity, it seems that way, doesn't it?
And that the ultimate word of God as a human being is Jesus Christ, okay?
And if that's true, if the language of God ultimately is the human person in this world,
and that the word becomes the human person,
then maybe this deep, deep distinction, polarity in human nature,
is also a language of God, sexuality itself.
Maybe that's how this ultimate language is going to articulate itself.
Maybe that will be the key, actually, to opening up the mystery of Christ finally.
The mystery of masculine-feminine.
And is it possible that the very revelation of God is articulated in that way,
as it were in the beginning as a masculine revelation,
and then progressively as a feminine revelation,
but they are on two different levels, as it were.
One more exterior, and one more interior.
I'll say a little more about that later.
There's this magnificent phrase of St. Paul in Galatians 3.
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free,
there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Now, he's got three dimensions there, hasn't he?
Neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.
Now, something's happening in a very lively and unusual way in our time
on all of these three lines.
What was St. Paul talking about?
Did he mean that slavery had been abolished,
that the slaves could all just take off their fetters and go off as free?
No, he didn't. It remained. He didn't even try to shake it.
He didn't even try to change the institution of slavery,
nor did he try to change the relationship of man and woman in society, did he?
He seems to have been saying that within the Christian community,
and in your hearts, and in the Eucharist, and in your life with one another,
it's as if these distinctions existed no more
because of the superabounding grace that is given to you in Jesus Christ,
because of the Holy Spirit among you,
and this unity that's been given to you and revealed among you,
these distinctions don't matter anymore.
They continue to exist out there, and he says as much in other places.
He says if you're a slave, well, that doesn't matter.
Be a good one. The important thing is that you are in Christ.
Now, what's happening in our time?
Another level is opening up, by which along each of these lines
an actual historical change is seen as urgent, as necessary.
The first one, Greek nor Jew, that may not be obvious right away,
but think of the Church and its confinement within, let us say,
a kind of Latin theology for all of these centuries.
Some of you have read probably Rahner's article on the meaning of Vatican II,
where he separates Church history into three very simple...
This is a kindergarten kind of theology of history.
He separates Christian history into three phases.
The first was Jewish Christianity, up until the Council of Jerusalem,
where in order to be Christian you had to be a Jew,
and it was all still inside the Jewish culture.
The second phase, and this is from the Council of Jerusalem
to the Second Vatican Council,
when Christianity, practically speaking, for most of the world,
was a European Christianity.
If you were an Indian somewhere in Peril, let us say,
in order to become a Christian you became a Portuguese Christian,
you became a European Christian.
And the cultural context of Christianity in Europe,
especially in the Latin countries, simply transplanted everywhere else.
In other words, it was not really enculturated.
And this is the problem that you are intimately in touch with.
It wasn't really enculturated.
It was taken with its European cultural body
and simply planted and wasn't allowed to move.
I think that's largely true in India.
Whatever may have been the efforts of a few prophetic figures
like de Ritchie and de Nobley and those people,
centuries ago, which then were suppressed.
Rana says that today we are witnessing the birth of the third phase,
or the coming of Vatican II.
We begin to see what he calls the World Church.
The World Church is a Christianity which is enculturated
within each culture according to the principles of that culture,
rather than being brought with one uniform Latin or Roman or European culture
and imposed on those cultures.
So a church which is really pluralistic, culturally speaking.
Now when Paul says there is neither Jew nor Greek,
that's implicit in his words and yet it could be worked out in his time
on a historical level.
There had to be still...
But he's the one who breaks through that barrier, isn't he?
He says it doesn't matter to be a Jew.
That's his vocation, is to move in that direction
and to say, you don't have to obey the law, you don't have to be circumcised,
you don't have to become a Jew in order to become a Christian.
Whoever you are, you can become a Christian in your own culture.
So that's where his strength and his vocation and his vision lies.
But along the other two lines, not so much.
See, what we did is we broke out of the Jewish culture
and then we got walled up within another one, the European culture.
And now comes a time when we have to break out of that one.
That same uniformity which had reimposed itself on the Christian word
and truly become pluralistic.
Neither slave nor free.
Well, of course we say we don't have slavery anymore, that's been run away with.
Well, we had it up to a hundred years ago or so.
And the slavery now is really economic slavery.
It's the same thing.
It's the difference between the rich and the poor,
between those who have and those who have not.
To have money is to have power.
To have no money is to be powerless and to be at the mercy of the other.
So it's a question of social and economic oppression.
Now, this had always been preached in Christianity,
but hardly ever until the present time where the structure is attacked.
Whereas it seems that the ferment of the gospel also demands this,
that actually these cultural structures be broken down
and the kingdom of heaven be brought about on earth
in so far as we can through equality and through freedom.
Neither male nor female.
There's been an almost unconscious suppression of the feminine and of woman
within the Christian tradition,
which it simply, I think, took on from the cultures around itself,
and which it never thoroughly challenged.
But today it's being challenged, both inside and outside Christianity.
But I suspect that the gift of Christianity to the world
is deeply expressed in that liberation of the feminine.
The liberation of woman to her role in the church and in the world,
but also the liberation of the feminine within each one of us.
Finally, aside from these three dimensions, or sort of they lead to it,
you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Now, that's where we lose the sense, I'd say,
because a dualistic theology creeps in,
in which there are insiders and outsiders,
and in which there are the mediators,
the people who have particular roles and offices in the church,
and then there are the ordinary people.
And pretty soon we talk about the mediators as being the church.
We say, what does the church say?
And that means, what does authority say?
What does the hierarchy say?
But the church is the people.
And the people forget that they're the church.
So far do we get from that notion of communion,
not notion, but that sense of communion,
and particularly we get far from it in our time when we're so individualistic.
If any of you have read Bella's book, Habits of the Heart,
he picks out individualism as the American characteristic,
so deeply ingrained in us that we don't know it's there,
we forget that it's there.
So the sense of communion is very alien to us.
We encounter when we meet the cultures of the East,
and when we meet more ancient cultures than our own,
we encounter a sense of communion,
but also a sense of non-dualism,
of a unit of knowledge of some kind.
I think that Maryknoll has been intensely in touch with all of these dimensions,
and has experienced deeply the tensions and the kind of seismic waves,
the new movement along these lines in our times.
Something is moving on each of these lines right now,
which is very exciting, really.
Why? What's happened?
Well, somehow Christianity, the gospel, is beginning to take on culture.
It's beginning to challenge the very cultural limits and bounds
which it had left uncriticized and unrecognized for so long,
beginning to question its own confinement within a particular culture,
beginning to question the cultural presuppositions.
Now, all kinds of other movements play a part here and are helpful,
including Marxism, including Nietzsche and all those characters,
the people who criticize, the people who radically suspect the Christian tradition
and lay bare its underside, lay bare its shadowy belly, and so on.
All those guys are a big help in this.
They bring us back to honesty and to face, actually,
the pure naked gospel, as it were, and its mission,
to change the world also in this way, in this very real way,
this realism of the gospel,
which it seems begins to appear once again in the time of Francis of Assisi,
who puts the old wisdom, as it were, behind him,
who doesn't go in for spiritual interpretations,
who just takes the gospel at face value,
takes the gospel literally and begins to walk around
with the fire of the gospel working in it.
That's a challenge to the old wisdom,
which usually went open to its fantasies, you know,
and usually forgot the poor man right in front of it.
So the newness in the new Christian wisdom that has to come up, I think,
is this kind of newness, rather, this realism,
and this conviction that the gospel is going to change the world,
also on the day-to-day level, on the historical level,
on the existential level, on the economic level,
the political level, every level,
consciously through what people do, the way people act.
Now, this breaks down the wall between what we do,
for instance, in a religious life, and what's going on around us.
In other words, our asceticism is no longer an isolated practice,
but somehow has to be in connection with the historical situation around us.
That is to say, if we fast, we fast because it's in solidarity with the poor,
not just in order to kind of deepen our own spiritual life.
The two are very much connected.
It's like there are two liberations that all of our asceticism are in function of.
The one, the classical one, is the liberation of the individual person,
the liberation of the spirit, of the heart,
so that the person may move with the spirit of God.
But the other one is the liberation out there,
is human liberation, liberation on the social level.
Now, we're not satisfied today unless we see the connection
between those two in everything that we do.
And I think that connection is available to us now.
Okay, I've gone on kind of long and haven't got very far, I see.
Is it possible to see all of this sort of in one?
Well, I think it is.
Once we've become able to see the Christian mystery as a whole,
and to do that we need to look very hard and very deeply at Jesus Christ himself
because it's all in him in some way, okay?
It's all in him, and he comes and he comes
and he just takes the position in the center
and then radically criticizes and relativizes
and puts into another light all of these cultural things that we're talking about,
so that in the end you just have this one simple law, this one simple rule,
which is the light of the Gospel itself,
which illuminates every human being from within,
and it's the same light within every human being,
and so somehow in the end they're all one.
We've become free in our time to follow the Christian mystery
to its depths and to its full amplitude.
That is the open mediation of the Church,
both as regards interiority and as regards universality.
Finally we see it, now we realize it.
And we can begin to follow out those lines of the length and the breadth and the height and the depth,
not just kind of individually and interiorly as mystics,
but also somehow in our life as a whole.
Let's try to just trace the shape of this mystery with our fingers, as it were,
beginning from the center and moving outward in a series of concentric circles.
The center is Jesus Christ, incarnate, crucified and risen,
and understood as both dwelling within us and encompassing us in himself.
And next, Christianity is simply a living faith in this Jesus Christ,
a faith which then, however, constitutes and gives birth within itself
to a unitive knowledge of God and Christ,
because that's what Christ is, is the unitive knowledge of God.
Christ, as John says, is the Word of God.
What does that mean?
As we come into contact with Christ, we know God.
As we are drawn into Christ, we are drawn into God and know God.
And the knowledge and the union somehow go together.
The knowledge and the union go together.
A unitive knowledge.
We've been trying to trace the shape of Christianity,
the central Christian mystery, moving outwards.
And we've talked about Christianity being a living faith in Jesus Christ.
Now, this faith gives birth within itself to a unitive knowledge of God and Christ.
And we have a lot more to say about that unitive knowledge.
That's sort of the heart of my thesis.
It's the heart of a Christian wisdom.
Unitive knowledge is a knowledge through participation,
a knowledge through con-naturality,
a knowledge, in a sense, which has only an inside.
It doesn't have an outside.
And it's a knowledge which unites subject and object in some kind of common ground.
And it's a knowledge which always, in some way, crosses boundaries.
The boundaries may remain, identity remains,
and yet somehow the boundaries are relativized within a larger whole.
Now, this reaches out in all kinds of dimensions.
It reaches out between persons.
It fundamentally absorbs us, includes us into Christ,
and in Christ, into God, and so on.
And it begins to change our vision of everything.
And this is a process of initiation with which we've largely lost touch.
In fact, we tend to mistrust talk of this kind of knowledge.
It sounds to us like some kind of fuzzy-minded romanticism
or some kind of swampy Eastern thought.
It's a unitive knowledge which is the experience of transformation,
of deification in Christ.
Now, this is Eastern language, or patristic language.
But what it means is that salvation is much more than the salvation
that we have usually thought of.
Salvation is not just being rescued from some terrible fate,
rescued from its opposite damnation,
but actually is union with God,
is the fullness of being brought into God's glory.
It is a transformation of humanity.
Not into something else, but into that which it was always destined to be,
which it was created to be.
And here, once again, are Anais' words,
that the glory of God is the living human person.
Now, this transformation of humanity,
this transformed single humanity,
standing in the center of the universe,
is the beginning of the transformation of the universe in Christ.
And so we're taken back to Genesis,
in the first chapters of Genesis,
where you have the one human being,
or the two who are really one,
in the garden,
and to Saint Paul, in Romans,
where he picks this up and talks about
sin and death coming into the world through one man,
and then life and grace coming into the world through one man.
And thus, somehow, in this solidarity, we're all gathered into one.
And Paul talks frequently about our all being one in Christ.
And then in John's prologue,
where he talks about the one word which became flesh,
and somehow we're all reborn in him.
The Fathers think in this language,
they think in this idiom, they think of one humanity.
They're still close enough to the beginning, somehow, of Christianity,
to see it all in one.
And consequently, their theology is very, very powerful.
It has a cosmic scope.
It seems to leave nothing out of its reckoning,
although we may discover a few things,
a few stones which hadn't been turned over.
Then we have somebody like Teilhard,
whose thought is, I think,
at the heart of much of our new vision of the Christian history.
We can speak here, if it's in rather audacious language,
of a kind of third revelation.
If we speak of the first revelation, the cosmic revelation,
as Father B. Griffiths would speak of it,
the revelation in the East,
which is evident in Hinduism and in Buddhism,
where finding God, finding the Absolute,
is a matter often of penetration into created reality,
of penetration into the heart of the world,
into the heart of nature,
and especially into one's own heart,
into the emptiness that lies at the core of the human person.
This, I think, is a way of Buddhism, the apophatic way.
Now, here we have a revelation
which anticipates, predates Judeo-Christian revelation,
and seems to be totally imminent.
That is, the divinity is discovered as imminent.
And then along comes the Word of God to Israel,
and then the Word of God made incarnate in Jesus Christ,
the Gospel, and the Church,
which perpetuate that coming of the Word into the world.
This is something new,
and this is something which contrasts sharply, harshly,
with that original cosmic revelation,
sometimes seems to cut into it like a sword or like a plow.
We're familiar with the second revelation,
and often we speak of it as being the only revelation,
as being the one and final, total communication of God.
And in the New Testament we find that kind of language too.
So we tend to forget the first one,
even though St. Paul will talk about those who have the Law of God
written in their hearts,
and will also talk about the manifestation of God in created things,
as you remember, early in Romans.
Today we seem to be in touch with another revelation,
and here I'm really speaking carelessly in a way,
but the revelation which comes up to meet us out of history.
And what is it?
It's a unity of revelation in some way.
It's the revelation of the unity of humanity,
to put it in the strongest terms.
It's as if humanity and the human person become their own revelation,
just as the human person emerges as the ultimate sacrament.
This is incarnational theology,
but it confronts us today in a new way.
When we see the whole of mankind somehow throbbing with one pulse,
the whole planet somehow being like a single egg,
being like a single organism,
you know the Gaia hypothesis which sounds silly to us,
but that the whole earth, the whole planet with its atmosphere
behaves as one living being.
When we can see the world in one square inch on a postage stamp,
as photographed from space,
we begin to see very graphically that we have a new understanding of our planet.
It's all becoming one.
We see that we all somehow live as one.
We can see on a TV screen what's happening across the world within seconds.
Somehow everything that happens there affects us in some way.
You follow me through the stock market,
and similarly everything in our lives affects everything around us.
So we're beginning to see the whole thing as one.
The nuclear threat makes it most penetrating, I think,
most pungent, this particular truth.
As we see that unless we get it together,
unless we arrive at world peace,
peace over the face of the whole earth,
then all of our lives are always in immediate danger.
The whole planet can suddenly be made no longer a home for man,
but just a smoking cinder.
Is this the Holy Spirit actually manifesting itself in the Church,
but in the Church in a large sense?
Remember that somehow all of humanity is meant to be,
meant to become the Church, because it has nowhere else to go.
It has nowhere else to go than Christ.
That means nowhere else to go than to become Church.
And so perhaps all of humanity is the meal gradually being transformed into bread,
gradually being fermented by the Word, even in invisible ways,
by the Word and by the immanent Spirit.
Now if I speak of a third revelation here,
it's in order that we may come out of our isolation of the Christian mystery,
which has made us fundamentalists in one way or another,
either Protestant fundamentalists of the Word,
or Christian Catholic fundamentalists of the institutional Church,
or Orthodox fundamentalists of tradition, one or the other.
But that being imprisoned within our own revelation,
and being out of touch with the other dimensions of God's manifestation in this world,
makes us unable also to communicate the mystery,
because we communicate it too aggressively.
We communicate it with ignorance of the ground that we're walking upon.
We walk where angels, as it were, would fear to tread.
We fail to have reverence for that truth into which we're walking.
We're only aware of the truth which we carry with us,
and which, hopefully, at least is inside us in our hearts.
Now, that third revelation I say is a historical revelation,
because it is also the coming into being of God's work.
Now, if there's one, you can say, stream of consequence of the Incarnation
in this kind of Christ quantum, which has brought light into the world
and made all kinds of intellectual and technological developments possible,
just bringing a sharper light into the human mind in a collective sense,
maybe not everybody will admit this,
that's a kind of masculine aspect of the Christian revelation and its consequences,
which is very visible in the West.
See, the West is towing the rest of the world behind it, whether it likes it or not.
On the other hand, there's another aspect of this revelation,
which we might call the feminine, or interior, or the imminent aspect,
and that I would call unitive.
In other words, humanity is gradually discovering itself as one.
Now, this is a consequence of the Incarnation,
but it's not a visible consequence.
It doesn't have a high profile.
It's within hearts.
It's within that sense of solidarity which gradually permeates us,
gradually draws us together, even though we don't know one another,
even though we may bear the label of enemy,
ourselves and the Russians, or whatever, you know.
But if we get beyond those labels, we discover that something is arising,
something is soaking through the earth all over the world,
something is emerging in humanity, and that's a sense of its unity.
And this is somehow Christ.
This is Christ appearing, but Christ appearing in an imminent way.
I would say in a feminine way.
And that's the third, the unitive revelation,
the revelation of the humanity which is building,
building invisibly in the hearts of human beings,
the one humanity.
From this center, this totality of the Christian mystery,
to return to our train of thought,
there evolves a Christian wisdom.
As we read the scriptures and we read our own experience in this light,
it's a matter of reading everything in the interior light of this Christ mystery,
this Logos within us.
Let me now pass to something else as a kind of consequence of this.
And I call it the alternative church,
the continuum of all kinds of things,
the continuity that's established within our experience,
within different forces moving in the world,
as a result of this mystery that we're talking about,
and especially in the light of this third revelation.
Because of its immediacy and its openness or universality,
this mystery relativizes the visible church.
It knows a church which is larger and more fluid
than the visible and institutional church.
And I think the Fathers were aware of that too.
Not all of them, but a number of them.
And yet, inseparably bonded to this visible church.
When I say alternative church,
I don't mean you opt for one or the other.
I mean there's an alternative vision of the church.
It's another side of the church.
And if anything, it's the inside of the church.
And there have been plenty of movements
which have had some inkling of this,
and then unfortunately have been split off from the institutional church.
The trick, the Christian creativity,
lies in keeping the two together,
and knowing how to maintain this vision
of the inner church, the church of greater humanity,
the church of immediacy with God,
the wisdom church, the church which is somehow Sophia,
and at the same time avoid simply withdrawing from
or defying or continually being in conflict
with the institutional church.
The two, as Rosemary Horton has expressed so well,
go along together.
She talks about two sisters,
one of whom is Mother Church and the other is Sophia,
who is Lady Wisdom.
Mother Church is a somewhat domineering lady
who knows what her children need,
and whether they like it or not, she's going to give it to them,
and she's going to make sure that they don't get anything
that's dangerous for them.
She's very watchful.
She has one little flaw, a foible,
that is, the tendency to confuse her own will with God's will,
or rather, God's will to identify her own will with God's will.
Now, this Mother Church correlates with the visible church.
And then there's Sophia,
who is a kind of mercurial, wild, unpredictable lady,
very sensitive, very charismatic,
very artistic, I suppose you would say.
With whom everybody is in love,
but who, being inconsistent and unpredictable,
has absolute need of her sister.
Now, I'm kind of pulling this up short
in order not to go on too long,
but I recommend that treatment of Rosemary Horton
in the first part of the Catholic thing.
So these are the two models or images of the Church that I'm proposing.
And I'm proposing that we rediscover,
that we burnish, polish, and keep before ourselves
the image of this inner Church, this interior Church,
the Church of Wisdom.
I'm sure you remember that Avery Dulles
proposed, in place of the one institutional model of the Church,
which is dominated up to Vatican II,
five models.
And then, after that, another one.
Besides the institutional Church,
he spoke of perhaps the deepest one that he proposed,
the mystery of communion, as a model for the Church.
And remember, there can also be communion in mysteries.
The Church's sacrament, Church's herald, Church's servant.
And finally, in a later article,
he proposed the Church's disciple.
He doesn't offer a model of the Church's wisdom,
but this is something that most of the Fathers
would have readily accepted and understood.
He also proposed the same number, five models of revelation,
and I think that they converge with the models of the Church.
We're dealing with a reality here which,
on one side is Church, is communion,
on the other side is truth, is wisdom, is revelation.
And I think in the image of the Wisdom Church,
the model of the Wisdom Church,
the Church who is wisdom,
who is the unitive knowledge of God in this world,
we find all of them somehow.
We begin to find, once again,
a comprehensive image of Christianity of the Church.
In our time, Sophia of this Wisdom Church
presents herself as an alternative Christianity
which is faithful both to the established Church
and to her own charism,
even though she has to follow her own way.
It's not just a question of waiting for what authority says.
She seems to be the Christianity needed
to meet the other cultures.
She is the Christianity with whom
it is impossible not to fall in love
once you know her, once you've glimpsed her.
Quite a contrast from the kind of battle-axe image of Christ
that's often presented by fundamentalists
of one stripe or another.
So there's a continuity among the concerns
that we've been exploring
which finds itself centered in this vision of the Church.
The Church which has finally rediscovered
her feminine identity
and no longer considers herself
simply an extension of Christ.
See, that's a great truth,
the kind of sacramentality of the Church
and that the Church is Christ.
And yet we've learned the enormous shadow that it casts,
the enormous pitfalls that lie in the way
of following that truth without its counter-pull,
without its complementary truth,
which is the Church as sinner,
which is the Church as separate from Christ,
which is the Church as a community of human beings
who are fallible
and who have a great tendency
to somehow inflate themselves
with what they've been given.
To identify themselves with Christ
and thereby become a scandal to the world
instead of the salt of the earth.
So this alternative Christianity
is a Church from below
and therefore a Church of the poor,
a Church of the earth.
It's a Church and a Christianity of imminence
and therefore of depth,
of non-dualism,
of contemplative knowledge.
A knowledge which isn't separate from life
and isn't separate from the darkness of faith either,
so it's the knowledge of the little ones.
In the emerging feminine,
in our time we find these dimensions converging.
Now some people working on the psychological side
and studying consciousnesses
have characterized the feminine consciousness
as a kind of unitive consciousness.
What does that mean?
It means that a woman tends to understand things
through her own being.
It's as if her own being resonates with them.
And in that resonance of her own being
she begins to know other things as well,
as if she were to understand only by con-naturality,
only by affinity.
And that she knows things therefore
in a mode which at the same time is union
and brings about union with those things.
It's as if in a sense she doesn't know difference
in her deepest consciousness.
Now perhaps this consciousness
is the deepest consciousness of all of us.
Perhaps this is where we're led
as we move inward in our minds and hearts.
And this perhaps is the key
to this alternative vision of the Church.
She is the unitive knowledge and presence of God
imminent in the world.
Here I'd like to read something from Thomas Merton.
It's the beginning of that marvelous prose poem,
his Agia Sophia.
There is in all visible things
an invisible fecundity,
a dimmed light, a meek namelessness,
a hidden wholeness.
This mysterious unity and integrity is wisdom,
the mother of all natura naturans.
There is in all things
an inexhaustible sweetness and purity,
a silence that is a fount of action and joy.
It rises up in wordless gentleness
and flows out to me from the unseen roots
of all created beings,
welcoming me tenderly,
saluting me with indescribable humility.
This is at once my own being,
my own nature,
and the gift of my Creator's thought and art within me,
speaking as Agia Sophia, that is holy wisdom,
speaking as my sister, wisdom.
Let me talk a little bit now about contemplation and activity.
This is where we began.
I'd like to propose a definition of contemplation
as being unitive knowledge.
Now, we've already talked about this a bit,
but it's something that one can explore
almost without end.
It's a whole different mode of knowing.
And, of course, we have some inkling of it already
from our own experience.
There's a broad spectrum of different kinds
of contemplative experience,
and we've tended during recent centuries
to limit our notion of contemplation
to a kind of peak, a kind of Everest,
the purest experience of God.
The Carmelite tradition, I think,
has often led us to do that.
Even if you read John of the Cross
and Teresa of Abilene,
you'll find a great variety,
a whole scale of different kinds
of contemplative experience.
Aside from our more natural
contemplative experiences,
and remember some of the papers
that you had been reading in the Society
for your spiritual reflection,
those papers by Vincent Bellotti
contain some very good examples of that.
I think that as soon as the figure of Christ
begins to light up for you,
as soon as the Gospel begins to
fall together for you and become luminous,
as soon as Christ begins to emerge
in the center of the scenes
in which you find him in the Gospel,
as soon as his words begin to stick
as kind of points of light in your memory,
in your deep consciousness,
then contemplation is beginning.
Now, speaking of Christian contemplation,
of course, the intuition of faith itself,
strong faith itself,
is some kind of contemplation,
as if faith and contemplation
are simply the two sides of the coin,
the dark side and the light side.
Faith is obscure contemplation,
hidden contemplation,
contemplation in the darkness,
but a total, a kind of unitive knowledge,
according to John of the Cross,
is the only way that we touch God
and we're united with God.
And on the other hand,
contemplation is nothing but faith
which has become luminous,
and so a total knowledge
which gradually is beginning to disclose
what one knows.
I'd like to propose two principal dimensions
of Christian contemplative experience.
I'll call one Joannine and the other Pauline.
The Joannine form is the non-dual
or unitive experience of God
that we've been talking about so much,
however we receive it.
And that's what's usually called contemplation
in our tradition.
For instance, St. Teresa's Prayer of Union.
But I think that also
it's the ground of our consciousness.
You can read Rahner on this,
it's throughout his writing.
And therefore it's the basis of our ordinary life,
of everything that we know and that we love.
Every decision, every deep experience.
In everything that we know,
we know God,
as Rahner will say after Thomas Aquinas.
And similarly, in everything that we love,
we implicitly love God.
And the problem somehow is
to discover what's behind
those particular objects of knowledge and of love.
And of course, if we believe this,
if we believe that this knowledge of God somehow,
this contemplative knowledge,
is the very ground of our consciousness,
then we have found the opening
to a continual sense of divine presence.
It's as if just to interpret our own experience,
to interpret our own knowledge continually,
is to continually discover God.
It's as if we can't keep up to him.
He's so immediate to us, so close to us,
so continually with us
that it's impossible for us to
kind of stop and see him.
Now, that's one form of contemplation.
And the other, the Pauline form,
is the gnosis,
which is the understanding of history
and of our own experience
in the light of God.
If you look at Paul's experience
of the Christ mystery,
in terms of the bringing together
of Jews and Gentiles
in the one body of Christ,
this is in Ephesians chapter 3.
Let's see if I can find it here.
When you read this, he says,
you can perceive my insight
into the mystery of Christ
which was not made known
to the sons of men and other generations
as it has now been revealed
to his holy apostles and prophets
by the Spirit.
That is, how the Gentiles,
their fellow heirs,
members of the same body,
and partakers of the promise
in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Now, he's talking strangely,
and this can sort of disappoint us,
as if the whole Christian mystery
was contained in this movement of salvation
from the Jews to the Gentiles.
But that's because this is a kind of key
or archetypal transition
which expresses the whole historical dimension
of Christianity,
the movement from one culture to all,
from the particular to the universal,
from the original chosen people
to all of those other people.
The movement from the Old Testament
to the New Testament
is kind of the archetype
of the spread, of the widening,
of the trajectory
of the Christian mystery historically,
and therefore,
the key to all of history somehow,
if even in a hidden way.
This is history and life
understood in the light
of its movement toward communion,
that is, toward the kingdom.
This is the inner history,
the hidden history
of that woman who is the Church.
It's not the high-profile history
that we read on the front pages of the newspapers
of kings and parliaments
and wars and crimes
and political conventions
and all of those things,
corporations and bank balances and power
and the progress of the rational mind by itself,
which gives birth sometimes
to some pretty monstrous children,
some of our cities and the bomb itself.
It's not that front-page stuff.
It's not the history of reason and of power.
It's the history, rather,
of union and of grace,
the history of the progress of unitive grace
within the heart of humanity.
We need to understand,
to learn how to trace this
and what's happening around us
and the rising of these networks
and connections between people
which are most precious
and which are manifestations
of the coming of the kingdom
in all of humankind,
not only in those of our own humankind,
the ones that have the same religious profession,
have the same denomination,
the same kind of faith.
The point of juncture is human faith itself,
which somehow is already a participation in Christ.
Now, both of these forms of contemplation
are woven with our lives
and interwoven with one another.
They're like the east and west of our consciousness,
the horizon and the path,
the walkway of our lives.
The vision which these two modes of contemplation
project for activity
is really that of the birth of a new humanity,
which is the birth of the new Church,
the center of communion
and the knowledge of God in this world.
Remember, we heard from Vatican II
the notion of the Church
as a mystery of communion,
and now the Wisdom Church image suggests
that we enter into it as a communion in mystery,
as mysteriously being joined with all human beings
in the knowledge of God.
If we look at Romans 8,
we find, perhaps more dramatically
than anywhere else in Scripture,
this birth being talked about,
which is the Holy Spirit moving in our hearts
but the Holy Spirit moving at the same time
in all of creation and from the beginning of time.
I think it's important for us
to grasp this continuity that emerges,
this alternative view of the Church,
to trace it out lovingly in the Scriptures
and also in our own experience
and in the events of our time,
so that we can see our own lives and activities
being part of this birth process.
It's no longer isolated,
just as something being done for our own perfection.
What we are actually experiencing
is humanity becoming conscious of itself
and becoming conscious of itself
as one human person, as it were,
and as a multitude of persons,
but one humanity.
And that's the light of Christ that's making this happen,
but it's making it happen from within.
And here, I think we find this revelation
of the Divine Femininity,
which has always been imminent in the world
but is progressively revealed and manifested in humanity.
And the Incarnation of the Word in Jesus
is the center of this revelation.
But we're seeing it taking a kind of quantum leap,
I think, in our time.
We're seeing the Incarnation of the Divine
Unitive Knowledge.
And it's something which is capable of giving us
a vision that will sustain all our activity.
I think we'll find that the contemplative dimension
is simply the inside of our life,
the inside of all of our experience,
the inside of our activity.
And often we discover that our sisters
are the ones who can best initiate us
into this experience, the ones who perhaps
are first aware of it,
first aware of this contemplative
innerness of our lives and our experience
and of our work.
And to this experience, the ones who perhaps