Tag Archives: divinization

Beyond Descartes

Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time (Year I)

Hebrews 4:1-5, 11; Mark 2:1-12

The aim of the Christian life may be expressed in many ways: union with God, communion in the Trinity, deification (theosis), the acquisition of the Holy Spirit, returning to the Father’s house (the heavenly Jerusalem), or in the words of the author of Hebrews, entering into God’s Sabbath “rest.” The seventh day is unending peace and joy in the Lord, according to Rabbinic glosses, because unlike the first six days of creation there is no mention of evening. The sun never sets on the glory of God (Revelation 21:23; 22:5).

And whoever enters into God’s rest, rests from his own works as God did from his. Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest…

Hebrews 4:10-11

How are the people of God to “enter into that rest?” The author of Hebrews calls our attention to the faculty of hearing, for failure to “enter” resulted from a failure in listening:

Therefore, let us be on our guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains, that none of you seem to have failed. For in fact we have received the good news just as they did. But the word that they heard did not profit them, for they were not united in faith with those who listened.

Hebrews 4:1-2 (New American Bible Revised Edition)

Original manuscripts differ concerning the second verse. The alternative reading is exemplified by the Revised Standard Version which reads:

For good news came to us just as to them; but the message which they heard did not benefit them, because it did not meet with faith in the hearers.

The basic message is the same in either version: listening was not accompanied by faith. The hearers did not listen as did their leaders Joshua and Caleb, and the message failed to be received with faith in the heart.

“Oh, that today you would hear his voice: ‘Harden not your hearts.’”

Hebrews 3:7-8; 4:7; Psalm 95:7-8

When faith is alive, the voice of the Lord awakens the heart of the beloved:

The sound of my lover! here he comes
springing across the mountains,
leaping across the hills.
Let me see your face,
let me hear your voice,
For your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.

Song of Songs 1:8, 14

Almost 1500 years after the bitter desert wanderings, the Bridegroom appeared and called the attention of his Bride to the vital connection between hearing and the heart:

This is why I speak to them in parables, because ‘they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.’ Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: ‘You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted, and I heal them.’

Matthew 13:13-15; cf. Mark 4:11-12; Isaiah 6:8-10

Seeing and hearing are our windows onto reality, are they not? “All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason,” Immanuel Kant tells us. “There is nothing higher than reason.” Yet according to Jesus, something far surpassing seeing and hearing is required to “understand with the heart.”

The biblical language of the “heart” is foreign to empiricism and rationalism, but it is the key to “understanding,” “conversion” and “healing.” 

The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live; according to the Semitic or Biblical expression, the heart is the place “to which I withdraw.” The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death. It is the place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation: it is the place of covenant.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2563

The spiritual heart is the hidden center of union and communion in the Trinity, the Sabbath “rest” of God. 

Johannes Tauler (c. 1300-1361), one of the greatest German Dominican mystics, wrote some of the most striking statements about the interior “Promised Land.”

The Image of the Blessed Trinity rests in the most intimate, hidden, and inmost ground of the soul, where God is present essentially, actively, and substantially. Here God acts and exists and rejoices in Himself, and to separate God from this inmost ground would be as impossible as separating Him from Himself… And thus in the depth of this ground the soul possesses everything by grace which God possesses by nature.1

“No path of the senses will ever lead you there,” Tauler writes. “Within this ground the Heavenly Father begat His only-begotten Son.”2 This union of created and uncreated natures (theosis) surpasses sense perception, images, forms, words, thought and reason.3

The very being (hupostasis) of the Father and Son spoken about in Hebrews 1:3 is found in the heart and “ground” of every human person united to God by grace. 

You were more inward to me than my most inward part; and higher than my highest.

St. Augustine, Confessions, 3.6.11

Faith is the key to entering the Promised Land. 

For we who believed enter into [that] rest.

Hebrews 4:3

The faith of four friends circumvented every barrier between their paralytic brother and Jesus, and made a way where there was no way.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven… I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”

Mark 2:5, 11

There is more to God than meets the eye (or ear). 

May sight and sound 
give way to
Light in the ground
By faith in the heart
beyond the mind of Descartes.

-GMC

1 Sermon 29 from Johannes Tauler, Sermons, trans. Maria Shrady, Classics of Western Spirituality (Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1985), 105.

2 Ibid., 106. 

3 Sermon 37 from Ibid., 126. In different words, the testimony of an imageless, formless “eye of the soul” (spirit, heart, nous, ground) has been present from the time of the ancient desert tradition. 

Our Eternal Origin

Mosaic of Christ Pantocrator, Cathedral of the Transfiguration, Cefalù, Sicily, 12th century. Licensed by Claire Stracke under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Thursday After Epiphany

1 John 4:19—5:4; Luke 4:14-22a

“…whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.”

1 John 5:4

The origin of the Son and all persons begotten by the Father in the Son transcends the world, time, history, politics, sociology, psychology, beginnings and ends.

“I AM WHO I AM.”

Exodus 3:14

Beyond the vicissitudes of this passing world, the Being beyond beings is, was, and will be, forever and ever.

“You are my son; today I have begotten you.”

Psalm 2:7; Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5 and 5:5

The whispering Spirit of the unseen Father unveiled the eternal Sonship of Christ in a Psalm of David about a millennium before his birth from the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

“I am the Immaculate Conception.”

Our Lady of Lourdes to St. Bernadette Soubirous, March 25, 1858

From the bosom of the Father, the Virgin Mother of God breathed her name to her children, revealing herself as immaculately conceived from all eternity in the mind of God. 

Jesus Christ and Mother Mary have two birthdays like all human beings: an earthly, historical birthday in spacetime, and an eternal, timeless origin in the mind of the Father, Source of all persons.

As St. Paul writes, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ “chose us in him, before the foundation of the world…” (Ephesians 1:4).

Action follows being and identity. Thus the beloved disciple John found the commandment of love “not burdensome” (1 John 5:3), perhaps not even a “commandment” as such, but the very essence and action flowing from divinized humanity. As the light and heat of fire is natural to fire and of its essence, love is of the essence of the Body of Christ.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the Father loves also the one begotten by him. 

1 John 5:1

Believing and loving go hand in hand, as intellect and will, head and heart, light and heat are one and inseparable. 

After decades of prayer and reflection, Jesus’ prayer to the Father for the baffled disciples at the Last Supper finally sank in:

Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.

John 17:3-5

Loving faith and faithful love is “the victory that conquers the world” (1 John 5:4) because it originates in the ever bubbling Spirit of Love, Son of Love, and Father of Love from all eternity.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,” Jesus declared to the astonished people of his hometown Nazareth (Luke 4:18). The Spirit of the Father divinized our human nature in the Person of the Son of God, enabling us to love as he loves.

St. Cyril of Alexandria writes:

The Father says of Christ, who was God, begotten of him before the ages, that he has been “begotten today,” for the Father is to accept us in Christ as his adopted children. The whole of our nature is present in Christ, in so far as he is man. So the Father can be said to give the Spirit again to the Son, though the Son possesses the Spirit as his own, in order that we may receive the Spirit in Christ… He receives it to renew our nature in its entirety and to make it whole again, for in becoming man he took our entire nature to himself.

From the Liturgy of the Hours, Thursday after Epiphany, Office of Readings, From a commentary on the Gospel of John by Saint Cyril of Alexandria, bishop

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. 

-GMC

Resurrection in a Garden

Icon of the Anastasis (Resurrection)

24th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday (Year II)

1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49

The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

”For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.”1

“For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.”2

“The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.”3

These pointers beyond our earthly existence to our deified destiny were lifted from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (460). The spiritual DNA of Adam and the cosmos finds its origin in the eternally begotten Son of God. Christ, transcendent and “prior” to creation, is the archetype of humankind. The blueprint of humanity, untouched by time, exists in the heart of the Trinity.

Brothers and sisters: Someone may say, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come back? ”You fool! What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps, or of some other kind. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible. It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious. It is sown weak; it is raised powerful. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.

Fading flowers, seed production, winter dormancy, and springtime renewal point beyond themselves to the ultimate resurrection of Adam and the cosmos. 

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one. So, too, it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being,” the last Adam a life-giving spirit. But the spiritual was not first; rather the natural and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, earthly; the second man, from heaven. As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly, and as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.

Through stillness and silence in the midst of our activities, may we allow the Holy Spirit to plant us in the soil of Paradise so that we may germinate and grow in the Son to the Father. 

-GMC

1 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 19, 1: PG 7/1, 939.
2 St. Athanasius, De inc. 54, 3: PG 25, 192B.
3 St. Thomas Aquinas, Opusc. 57, 1-4.