Some Random Notes in Search of a Notion
From late medieval France:
A widow had only one child whom she tenderly loved. On hearing that this son had been taken [in war] by the enemy, chained and put in prison, she burst into tears, and addressing herself to the Virgin, to whom she was especially devoted, she asked with obstinacy for the release of her son; but when she saw at last that her prayers remained unanswered, she went to the church where there was a sculptured image of Mary, and there, before the image, she said: “Holy Virgin, I have begged you to deliver my son, and you have not been willing to help an unhappy mother! I’ve implored your patronage for my son, and you have refused it! Very good! Just as my son has been taken away from me, so I am going to take away yours, and keep him as a hostage!” Saying this, she approached, took the statue of the child on the Virgin’s breast, carried it home, wrapped it in a spotless linen, and locked it up in a box, happy to have such a hostage for her son’s return. Now, the following night, the Virgin appeared to the young man, opened the prison doors, and said: “Tell your mother, my child, to return me my son now that I have returned hers!” The young man came back home to his mother and told her of his miraculous deliverance; and she, overjoyed, hastened to go with the little Jesus to the Virgin saying to her: “I thank you, heavenly lady, for restoring me my child, and in return I restore yours.”
-cited by Paul J. Vanderwood in Juan Soldado: Rapist, Murderer, Martyr, Saint
The same thing happened in my family as I wrote here.
What relationship does the Gospel have with culture and human frailty? Is it to restore the pristine purity of the Gospel so over laden with human traditions, exaggerations, and superstitions? Or is the notion of reform merely hubris?
What does it mean to worship God “in spirit and in truth”? Does the Gospel mean that we have to strip human nature as much as possible of its humanity, its longing for beauty and comfort? Or does the Gospel sanctify the tendencies of the Gentiles to have an all-too-human religion?
A voice said to him, "Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat." But Peter said, "Certainly not, sir. For never have I eaten anything profane and unclean." The voice spoke to him again, a second time, "What God has made clean, you are not to call profane."
Perhaps one of the most absurd statements one can make is: “It all started to go wrong when…” Fill in the blank: the end of the Patristic Church, the insertion of the Filioque into the Creed, scholasticism, the Council of Trent, etc. Any answer other than, “when Adam and Eve were expelled from Paradise” might just be a bit hard to prove.
We believe that a crucified Jewish carpenter rose from the dead. Some Lourdes water won’t kill you.
-AG , in this comment
Disbelieve nothing amazing concerning the gods or divine dogmas. (The third Pythagorean symbol)
Commentary by Iamblichus: ...[T]his dogma sufficently venerates and unfolds the transcendency of the Gods, affording us a viaticum, and recalls to our memory that we ought not to estimate divine power by our judgment. But it is likely that some things should appear difficult and impossible to us, in consequence of our corporeal subsistence, and from our association with generation and corruption; from our having a momentary existence; from being subject to a variety of diseases; from the smallness of our habitation.... This symbol in a particular manner introduces the knowledge of the Gods, as beings who are able to affect all things.... so that the precept, disbelieve nothing, is equivalent to participate in and acquire those things through which you will not disbelieve; that is to say, acquire disciplines and scientific demonstrations.
-from The Exhortation to Philosophy
The more it looks like Voodoo, the more Catholic it really is.
-Pseudo-Iamblichus, after he downed a few shots of tequila
So how are we to take the actions of the woman who kidnapped the Christ-child? Should we shrug it off as superstition, or view it as divine condescension to human frailty?