The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Henri de Lubac's Corpus Mysticum

Henri Cardinal de Lubac is one of my favorite authors, not because he answers all of my questions, but rather because he leaves me with new ones everytime I read him. His book, Catholicism, for example, is more an elaborate quilt of theological history rather than a systematic treatment of what it means to be Catholic. His works on the role of the supernatural in theology, at least for my puny brain, seemed to be more about respecting the mystery of God's relationship with Creation rather than trying to give a definitive solution to the purpose of human life and man's ultimate end.
Recently translated into English, Corpus Mysticum is another such work, and the author admits at the start that it is more of a notebook than anything else. To give a very brief summary, de Lubac traces how the terms "corpus verum" and "corpus mysticum" played an elaborate game of musical chairs over the period of three or four centuries. The true body of Christ in the early Church was always the Church itself, while the mystical body referred to the Eucharist. This of course changed within the Roman Catholic Church by the twelfth century when the two terms traded places, but not universally.
Rather than give an intense theological analysis of the book (something I am not capable of), I would rather present over a series of posts various quotes from the book to inspire people to read it, and if so driven by the Holy Spirit and/or indigestion, say a few words reflecting on these quotes. So here is the first one:
Representation: the word defines that intermediate place which I said is occupied by the New Testament in its present form: between shadow and truth, nearer the shadow because of the form of knowledge with which we are left - through a mirror and in enigmas - but how much nearer the truth because of its profound substance! Shadow in the law, image in the Gospel, truth in heaven.... Here we must set aside our watered-down concepts and reflect that for the ancients, affirming that the Son of God is the perfect image of the Father was to affirm the total communication between the one and the other, a true identity of nature..... Christ is not the shadow, but the image of God, whoever walks in the Gospel walks in Christ the image..... As Algerius of Liege would say, this is no longer the era of truth promised, but that of truth given, though not yet of truth revealed.