Wednesday, October 30, 2013

theologiae graecae

"The traditional theology of the Greek Fathers devised three terms for these three aspects of man's one spirit.  That which is unconscious and below reason was the anima or psyche, the 'animal' soul, the realm of instinct and of emotion, the realm of automatism in which man functions as a psychophysical organism.  This anima is conceived as a kind of feminine or passive principle in man.

"Then there is the reason, the enlightened, conscious, active principle, the animus or nous. Here we have the mind as a masculine principle, the intelligence that governs, ratiocinates, guides our activity in the light of prudence and of thought.  It is meant to direct and command the feminine principle, the passive anima.  The anima is Eve, the animus is Adam.  The effect of original sin in us all is that Eve tempts Adam and he yields his reasoned thought to her blind impulse, and tends henceforth to be governed by the automatism of passionate reaction, by conditioned reflex, rather than by thought and moral principle.

"However, the true state of man is not just anima governed by animus, the masculine and the feminine.  There is an even higher principle which is above the division of masculine and feminine, active and passive, prudential and instinctive. This higher principle in which both the others are joined and transcend themselves in union with God, is the spiritus, or pneuma.  This higher principle is not merely something in man's nature, it is man himself united, vivified, raised above himself and inspired by God.

"The full stature of man is to be found in the 'spirit' or pneuma.  Man is not fully man until he is 'one spirit' with God. Man is 'spirit' when he is at once anima, animus, and spiritus.  But these three are not numerically distinct.  They are one. And when they are perfectly ordered in unity, while retaining their own rightful qualities, then man is reconstituted in the image of the Holy Trinity.

"The 'spiritual life' is then the perfectly balanced life in which the body with its passions and instincts, the mind with its reasoning and its obedience to principle and the spirit with its passive illumination by the Light and Love of God form one complete man who is in God and with God and from God and for God.  One man in whom God is all in all.  One man in whom God carries out His own will without obstacle.

"It can easily be seen that a purely emotional worship, a life of instinct, an orgiastic religion, is no spiritual life.  But also, a merely rational life, a life of conscious thought and rationally directed activity, is not fully spiritual life.  In particular it is a characteristic modern error to reduce man's spirituality to mere 'mentality,' and to confine the whole spiritual life purely and simply in the reasoning mind.  Then the spiritual life is reduced to a matter of 'thinking' -- of verbalizing, rationalizing, etc.  But such a life is truncated and incomplete.

"The true spiritual life is a life neither of dionysian orgy nor of apollonian clarity:  it transcends both.  It is a life of wisdom, a life of sophianic love. In Sophia, the highest wisdom-principle, all the greatness and majesty of the unknown that is in God and all that is rich and maternal in His creation are united inseparably, as paternal and maternal principles, the uncreated Father and created Mother-Wisdom.

"Faith is what opens to us this higher realm of unity, of strength, of light, of sophianic love where there is no longer the limited and fragmentary light provided by rational principles, but where the Truth is One and Undivided and takes all to itself in the wholeness of Sapientia, or Sophia. When St. Paul said that Love was the fulfillment of the Law and that Love had delivered man from the Law, he meant that by the Spirit of Christ we were incorporated into Christ, Himself the 'power and wisdom of God,' so that Christ Himself thenceforth became our own life, and light and love and wisdom.  Our full spiritual life is life in wisdom, life in Christ.  The darkness of faith bears fruit in the light of wisdom."

+ Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation (pp. 139-41)

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