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

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Big Soul, Small Cosmos...

For Proclus Soul is a living intermediary between the physical and intellectual world. It is the position of the contiguous of physics, in contact rather than at one with the higher and lower hypostases, intellect and the material world respectively. Touching both center and extremity, Soul extends its power through everything.

-Emilie Kutash, "A Physics for the Psyche? Proclus’ Institutia Physica and the 'Life' of the Soul"

The greatest leap that man must take at this point in order to believe in the Gospel is not to be able to believe in the multiplication of loaves, the healing of the sick, or even the resurrection of the dead. Really, it does not even start with whether he believes in God or not. We are far from a situation where things can be that simple. No, the burning question at this point is: do you think that you are really important?

This needs some explaining, for if modern man is anything, he is self-centered. But he is self-centered like a pauper or a beggar is self-centered. There is no longer any dignity in it, no longer any sense of importance. Our modern minds dwell in a universe that is almost infinite, governed by stringent laws, and in the end, fundamentally meaningless. This is true at least for the post-Christian perspective. In the great scheme of things, in the context of billions of years, man is but a blink of an eye, a lost sojourner in a vast void that will perish one day like everything else. That is the faith that is anti-faith, that is what surrounds us and poisons the heart today. If someone is to come to believe, and to believe firmly, he has but one choice: to affirm that in the end, he matters.

That of course is the great insight of Christianity in general: the insight about the human person. We are all individual human persons, made in the image and likeness of God. Look up at the stars, look at the vastness of the ocean, the colorful poem that is the sky at sunset, and you are seeing the gift that your Father made for you. As St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote, it is the human heart that contains all of these things and brings them into itself, and offers them back to the Father as a clean oblation, a graceful synthesis, and a song of praise. To be a Christian is to believe in one’s own greatness; in spite of being small, we are so much larger than even the physical universe itself. We are the vessels of the eternal, the receptacles of love, and the storehouses of the beautiful. We are the summit around which all things dance.

As Gabriela Mistral wrote last century:

Creo en mi corazón, ramo de aromas
que mi Señor como una fronda agita,
perfumando de amor toda la vida
y haciéndola bendita.

Creo en mi corazón, el que no pide nada
porque es capaz del sumo ensueño
y abraza en el ensueño lo creado:
¡inmenso dueño!...

Creo en mi corazón, en que el gusano

no ha de morder, pues mellará a la muerte;
creo en mi corazón, el reclinado
en el pecho de Dios terrible y fuerte.

(I believe in my heart, branch of fragrances
That my Lord shakes like a frond,
Perfuming with love all of life
And making it blessed.

I believe in my heart, that which asks for nothing
Because it can achieve even the highest dream
And embraces in the dream all of the created:
O immense lord!...

I believe in my heart, that which the worm
Shall not bite, for it shall deprive death of honor;
I believe in my heart, that which reclines
On the chest of the fearsome and powerful God.)

The photo is that of the nebula named for Gabriela Mistral. “Virtus in astra tendit….”


At 7:26 AM, Blogger Archistrategos said...

In your own words: "This guy's got mad blogging skills."

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Patrick said...

Sometimes I feel that it suffices to be important in the minds of my friends.

As you can tell, I'm not out of the woods yet.

At 12:30 PM, Blogger Ttony said...

I taught at a school in Madrid named for Gabriela Mistral. Thanks for this.


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