Site menu:

Articole recente

Categorii

Arhive

Apologetica

Dialog

Discutii

Legaturi

Prieteni

Pro-familie

Resurse

Site-uri catolice

Teologie

Site search

Cine este online

1 vizitatori online acum
1 vizitatori, 0 boți, 0 membri
Propulsat de Harti vizitatori

Vizualizări top

Comentarii recente

Categorii

septembrie, 2017
L Ma Mi J V S D
« Mar    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  

Înţelepciunea în gândirea contemporană: moft ezoteric, abilitate practică sau nevoie existenţială? O perspectivă creştină.

Număr de vizionări :2863

Tonny-Leonard Farauanu

I. Introducere

În orice cultură, şi prin urmare şi în gândirea contemporană, înţelepciunea sugerează un fel de perfecţiune intelectuală, un mod specific de a cunoaşte şi de obicei o capacitate de a judeca. Fie că este vorba de înţelepciune ca prudenţă (gr., phrónesis), ca şi cunoaştere speculativă a cauzelor ultime sau ca iluminare divină, înţeleptul este întotdeauna acela care vede lucrurile mult mai adânc, în toată complexitatea lor şi în raţiunile lor ultime; el poate astfel desluşi sensul existenţei şi legile ei şi poate discerne adevăratul drum spre o viaţă fericită. Această definiţie a înţeleptului este general acceptată, însă conţinutul a ceea ce oamenii numesc înţelepciune este disputat. Înainte de a pregăti acest subiect mi-am pus întrebarea: ce înţeleg oamenii de astăzi prin înţelepciune şi care este atitudinea lor faţă de ea? Nu mi-a trebuit să caut mult ca să observ trei orientări fundamentale: unii consideră înţelepciunea rezultatul unei iniţieri ezoterice, alţii subliniază aspectul ei de abilitate practică în viaţă şi, în cele din urmă, alţii consideră înţelepciunea o nevoie existenţială. Voi vorbi acum despre fiecare din aceste trei orientări în parte, privindu-le din perspectiva unei critici creştine. Evident că nu-mi propun o abordare exhaustivă, mă voi mulţumi să subliniez aspectele esenţiale ale fiecărei orientări.

II. Înţelepciunea – moft esoteric

Dacă cineva caută pe Internet paginile legate de cuvântul „înţelepciune”, majoritatea rezultatelor acestei căutări vor trimite la învăţături de factură ezoterică.[1] Şi librăriile abundă cu astfel de scrieri, iar oamenii care au o deschidere mai mare spre lumea spirituală nu ezită să se înfrupte cu nesaţ din acest gen de literatură. Ce anume îi face să caute aşa ceva? Cuvântul „ezoteric” provine din grecescul esotéro, un comparativ al adverbului eíso, éso, care înseamnă „înăuntru”. În uz curent „ezoteric” înseamnă ascuns, accesibil unui număr restrâns de iniţiaţi, sau pur şi simplu ceva dificil de înţeles. Aşadar cei care caută învăţături ezoterice sunt interesaţi de cele ascunse, de cele lăuntrice. Mai mult, promotorii doctrinelor ezoterice îşi definesc propria teorie ca fiind „învăţătura mistică şi sacră rezervată pentru studenţii superiori şi vrednici”. Este evident că dacă cineva are pretenţii cu privire la sine însuşi nu-şi poate permite să ignore o astfel de cunoaştere. Mai ales când citeşte în prezentarea doctrinelor cu pricina fraze de genul: „aceste învăţături au fost cunoscute şi studiate de persoanele mult evoluate din toate veacurile” şi „în această doctrină ezoterică universală se regăseşte aria de mister a fiecărei mari religii sau filosofii, partea misterioasă a învăţăturii fiind întotdeauna rezervată iniţiaţilor” sau – acesta va fi ultimul citat, deşi ar mai fi multe asemenea – „originile doctrinei ezoterice se găsesc în învăţăturile ascunse ale fiinţelor din alte sfere spirituale, care s-au încarnat în umanitatea timpurie a celei de-a treia rase-rădăcină din a patra sferă a globului nostru şi care au învăţat umanitatea aflată atunci în naşterea ei intelectuală anumite principii sau adevăruri necesare şi fundamentale cu privire la univers, la natură şi la lumea înconjurătoare”.

După cum bine ştim, imediat ce se vorbeşte de ceva ascuns „despre care ei nu vor ca tu să ştii”, omul devine brusc foarte interesat.[2] Şi asta nu de azi sau de ieri, ci de la începutul istoriei omenirii. „Nu veţi muri… ci veţi cunoaşte…”, spunea şarpele Evei. Şi Eva a cunoscut… dar rezultatul cunoaşterii sale nu a fost acela pe care i l-a promis şarpele. La o analiză atentă şi riguroasă nu e greu de descoperit incoerenţele metafizice, antropologice şi etice ale acestor doctrine ezoterice, precum şi şubreda lor pretenţie ştiinţifică. Aceste doctrine, dacă sunt însuşite şi urmate, nu împlinesc omul, ci-l alienează şi-l distrug; sau, mai rău, îl fac sclavul duhurilor care se află de cele mai multe ori în spatele acestor învăţături. Pentru mulţi însă popasul în grădina ezoterismelor este doar un moft, adică o pretenţie superficial justificată, tributară înclinaţiilor de moment şi în ultimă instanţă nerezonabilă, având deseori o altă justificare decât cea oferită de „mofturos”.  De cele mai multe ori aceste doctrine plac celor care nu sunt cu picioarele pe pământ, celor care au orientări extravagante, care caută această „înţelepciune” doar ca să pară mai deosebiţi, mai „la modă” sau superiori oamenilor de rând. Învăţătura ezoterică, prin definiţie, este doar pentru cei aleşi, pentru un număr mic de oameni superiori celorlalţi, aparţine unui cerc închis, unei elite. Evident că perspectiva apartenenţei la această elită „gâdilă orgoliul într-un mod plăcut” – ca să adaptez aici una din definiţiile lui Caragiale. Tocmai acest orgoliu este cauza, după estimările mele, la cel puţin 95% din cazurile de aderare la ezoterism. De aceea nu e de mirare că majoritatea celor care urmează astfel de curente sunt intelectuali.

Există însă şi unii care merg în această direcţie din dorinţa sinceră de a înţelege lumea şi viaţa. Citeam mai deunăzi o critică a civilizaţiei occidentale, critică scrisă de un promotor al „înţelepciunii” ezoterice.[3] Acesta reproşa occidentului nu numai materialismul, ci şi divorţul dintre filozofie, religie şi ştiinţă, mai precis separarea lor în trei departamente distincte în conflict unul cu altul. De asemenea, mai reproşa şi superficialitatea formării spirituale creştine, spunând că „religia occidentală [creştinismul], în forma oferită publicului, a devenit în mod constant din ce în ce mai puţin capabilă să răspundă foamei perene a minţilor şi inimilor cu explicaţii satisfăcătoare despre om şi univers”. Dar este această critică justificată? Eu cred în mare parte că da, deşi unele formulări merită anumite calificări. Acestei stări de fapt filozofiile orientale îi răspund cu un refuz al materialismului şi cu o viziune unificatoare asupra realităţii, filozofia, religia şi ştiinţa făcând un tot unitar, aparent bine armonizat. Cum să nu apară această perspectivă mult mai îmbietoare decât vacarmul ideologic occidental? De asemenea, creştinismul în Occident nu a mai pus suficient de mult accentul pe viaţa mistică, care ar fi satisfăcut sufletele însetate de Dumnezeu, ci a căpătat deseori un ton sec şi moralist, în cel mai bun caz sentimental. S-au pus manualele de mistică pe ultimul raft şi astfel şi învăţătura dogmatică a devenit obscură. Fără o adevărată viaţă spirituală dogmele sunt percepute ca o agresiune intelectuală iar poruncile morale ca nişte edicte dictatoriale. Cum să nu se orienteze omul atunci spre curente de gândire care îi măgulesc orgoliul intelectual, dându-i impresia că înţelege viaţa şi universul, promiţându-i puteri deosebite şi oferindu-i o motivaţie aparent mai inteligibilă pentru viaţa morală? Răspunsul creştin faţă de această pseudo-înţelepciune ezoterică nu poate fi aşadar decât o reînvigorare a educaţiei la viaţa mistică în Christos.

III. Înţelepciunea – abilitate practică

O altă orientare contemporană abordează înţelepciunea din prisma abilităţii practice în viaţă, fiind vorba aici de ceea ce numim în mod obişnuit prudenţă. Un om înţelept, din acest punct de vedere, este acela care ştie să-şi rânduiască viaţa în aşa fel încât să fie fericit. Deseori însă fericirea este prost înţeleasă, şi prin urmare şi înţelepciunea care l-ar ajuta pe om să o dobândească este înţeleasă greşit. Mă refer aici la ceea ce Sfântul Pavel numeste „înţelepciunea lumii acesteia” (I Cor 1: 20) sau „înţelepciunea după trup” (ibidem, 26) iar Sfântul Iacob o numeşte înţelepciune „pământească, trupească, demonică” (Iac 3: 15). De fapt aceasta este impropriu numită înţelepciune, fiind vorba mai degrabă de o inteligenţă practică, strict instrumentală, la care şi Domnul Iisus s-a referit când a spus că „fiii veacului acesta sunt mai înţelepţi în neamul lor decât fiii luminii” (Lc 16: 8). Şi hoţul poate fi astfel „înţelept” în întreprinderea lui, şi ucigaşul în incursiunea lui dătătoare de moarte, şi lacomul în adunarea nesăturată de bunuri pământeşti.

Acestei aşa-zise înţelepciuni creştinismul i-a opus dintotdeauna adevărata prudenţă, care este virtutea intelectuală prin care omul recunoaşte în orice lucru apropiat ce este bine şi ce este rău, ce îl apropie de scopul său ultim, fericirea, şi ce îl îndepărtează de acesta. Bineînţeles că fericirea ultimă a omului este înţeleasă în creştinism ca fiind unirea în iubire, comuniunea veşnică cu Dumnezeu. Aceasta este o fericire nepieritoare, şi toate faptele, în lumina adevăratei înţelepciuni, sunt direcţionate spre dobândirea ei. Datorită întunecării lăuntrice provocate de păcat omul are de asemenea nevoie de poruncile divine revelate şi de har, care îi luminează mintea şi-l ajută să judece corect în momente de ezitare. De aceea „începutul înţelepciunii este frica de Domnul” (Prov 1: 7), iar încununarea ei dragostea de Dumnezeu. Nimeni nu doreşte fericirea omului, nici măcar el însuşi, pe cât o doreşte Dumnezeu. Totuşi, deseori felul în care Dumnezeu conduce pe cineva la fericirea adevărată poate părea nebunie, nu înţelepciune. După cum spune Sf. Pavel, „omul firesc nu primeşte cele ale Duhului lui Dumnezeu, căci pentru el sunt nebunie şi nu poate să le înţeleagă, fiindcă ele sunt judecate duhovniceşte. Dar omul duhovnicesc toate le judecă, pe el însă nu-l judecă nimeni” (I Cor 2: 14-15). Pentru a fi cu adevărat înţelept în viaţă omul trebuie să se lase condus de Duhul lui Dumnezeu.

III. Înţelepciunea – nevoie existenţială

Cea de a treia orientare fundamentală pe care am observat-o în lumea contemporană este înţelepciunea ca şi nevoie existenţială. Omul vine pe lume şi este un mister pentru el însuşi, iar întrebările multimilenare ale omenirii nu sunt mai puţin şi ale sale. Omul vrea să înţeleagă raţiunea de a fi, vrea să găsească o motivaţie pe deplin satisfăcătoare pentru viaţa şi acţiunile sale, vrea să înţeleagă care este rostul său în univers. Cu alte cuvinte, el doreşte cunoaşterea cauzelor ultime ale existenţei, mai cu seamă ale propriei existenţe. Fără a avea răspuns la toate acestea omul intră într-o criză profundă, devenind uneori incapabil să mai trăiască, sau se droghează cu satisfacţii trecătoare pentru a-şi uita angoasa lăuntrică. Cei ultralucizi (adică oamenii exigenţi şi coerenţi cu ei înşişi până la capăt) nu-şi pot desprinde atenţia de la aceste întrebări existenţiale, deci nu se pot amăgi cu plăceri trecătoare, neavând odihnă până nu găsesc un răspuns satisfăcător. Cei care însă nu sunt foarte exigenţi cu ei înşişi sunt şi ei treziţi din visul lor narcotic  prin suferinţă, aceasta spulberându-le iluziile şi incoerenţa. După cum spunea şi Cicero, „oamenii înţelepţi sunt instruiţi de raţiune; oamenii cu o înţelegere inferioară, de experienţă; fiarele, de natură”.

Deşi informaţia ar trebui să ducă la cunoaştere şi cunoaşterea la înţelepciune, aceasta se întâmplă rar în timpurile noastre. Deseori omul contemporan, hipnotizat în mod agresiv de puhoaiele crescânde de informaţie care ameninţă să-l copleşească cu totul, nu mai posedă cunoaşterea, ci este posedat de ea. Ritmul asimilării nu corespunde cu ritmul acumulării informaţiei şi apare o indigestie intelectuală. Cum se manifestă aceasta? Ideologii, fanatisme, indiferentism sau agnosticism, toate acestea sunt de cele mai multe ori reacţii la sau urmări ale indigestiei intelectuale. Suferinţa poate fi un antidot pentru aceste rătăciri, revelând incoerenţele dintre teorie, experienţă şi dorinţă, cerând o cunoaştere a principiilor care duc la armonia deplină dintre theoria şi praxis. Cu alte cuvinte, cerând înţelepciune. În lipsa acestei armonii, a acestei viziuni unitare asupra realităţii, omul ajunge la ceea ce psihologia numeşte „disonanţă cognitivă”. Acest fel de disonanţă doare şi, dacă nu este rezolvată, duce la nevroze şi schizofrenii. Iată ce-l împinge aşadar pe om să caute în mod existenţial înţelepciunea.

În această căutare a înţelepciunii omul are nevoie nu numai de informaţie, ci mai ales de linişte lăuntrică şi meditaţie. Numai în această reculegere el poate confrunta cunoaşterea intelectuală dobândită, experienţele de viaţă, aspiraţiile sale profunde şi propriile principii pentru a face o ordine, pentru a stabili o coerenţă între toate acestea, eliminând falsul, eroarea, corectând stângăciile şi ierarhizând valorile. Blaise Pascal spunea că „toate erorile şi neînţelegerile provin din faptul că omul nu poate să stea liniştit în camera sa.” Dobândirea înţelepciunii presupune acea „plugărie a inimii”, adică muncă interioară cu răbdare, exigenţă, perseverenţă şi mai ales umilinţă. Uneori se cere să înduri angoase vecine cu moartea, torturi sufleteşti care te fac să transpiri sânge, iată de ce nu avem mulţi înţelepţi, iată de ce noi înşine nu suntem suficient de înţelepţi. Înţeleptul este un martir ascuns, un martir al adevărului cu sine însuşi. El moare în fiecare zi în căutarea lui lăuntrică pentru adevăr. „Moartea” sa însă aduce lumină şi viaţă nu numai pentru el, ci şi pentru cei din jurul lui. Când „boul mut” ajunge să vorbească cuvintele lui răsună precum tunetul. Cuvintele înţeleptului sunt catalizatori de coerenţă, de armonie, de frumuseţe intelectuală. Ele ar mai putea fi asemănate cu o cheie de decriptare a complexităţii realităţii. De fapt, meditaţia este un fel de muncă de decriptare a realităţii, şi acolo unde această cheie este inaccesibilă puterii raţiunii umane intervine revelaţia divină.

După cum spune Conciliul Vatican II,

numai în misterul Cuvântului Întrupat se luminează cu adevărat misterul omului. Căci Adam, cel dintâi om, era prefigurarea Aceluia ce avea să vină, Christos Domnul. Christos, noul Adam, prin însăşi revelarea misterului Tatălui şi al iubirii Acestuia, îl dezvăluie pe deplin omului pe om şi îi descoperă măreţia chemării proprii. (GS 22)

Aşadar omul, creat pentru Dumnezeu şi fiind capax Dei, capabil de Dumnezeu, nu-şi poate găsi liniştea lăuntrică desăvârşită şi nu-şi poate satisface nevoia existenţială de a se înţelege pe sine pe deplin decât în lumina supranaturală a revelaţiei lui Iisus Christos. Are nevoie de înţelepciunea divină pentru a vedea totul aşa cum este cu adevărat, cu ochii lui Dumnezeu. Şi, întrucât „umblăm prin credinţă, nu prin vedere” (II Cor 5: 7), şi multe ne rămân încă ascunse, această nevoie existenţială de înţelepciune nu va fi săturată cu adevărat decât în împărăţia lui Dumnezeu, unde, dacă ne vom învrednici de aceasta, vom fi uniţi pe deplin cu „Christos, puterea lui Dumnezeu şi înţelepciunea lui Dumnezeu” (I Cor 1: 24). Fă-ne, Doamne, vrednici de înţelepciunea Ta!


[1] Mă refer aici mai ales la doctrinele de tip New Age sau la teozofia lui Rudolf Steiner şi Helena Petrovna Blavatsky.

[2] A se vedea interesul pentru cartea lui Dan Brown Codul lui Da Vinci, în care, deşi autorul afirmă explicit că volumul este ficţiune, majoritatea oamenilor întrevăd o realitate mascată sub literatură. Le place să creadă că este adevărat.

[3] E vorba de articolul lui Robert Rensselaer, „Esoteric Wisdom East and West”, în Sunrise Magazine, June-July 1974, Theosophical University Press.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.3/10 (7 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)

Suprematia lui Dumnezeu si libertatea omului în predestinare

Număr de vizionări :681

Suprematia lui Dumnezeu si libertatea omului în predestinare

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)

Religiozitatea patologică – cauzele, consecinţele şi terapia ei

Număr de vizionări :2044

Religiozitatea patologică – cauzele, consecinţele şi terapia ei

Un articol mai vechi, evident mai mult orientativ, fara nicio pretentie de exhaustivitate.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.5/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)

Through Jesus to the Trinity

Număr de vizionări :4136

by Leonard Tony FARAUANU

„No one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Mt. 11, 27)

1. INTRODUCTION

When we speak of the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the very word „mystery” should warn us with respect to the way in which we ought to approach this subject. In our intellectus fidei we should remain always aware of the fact that the more one penetrates a mystery of faith, the more this mystery appears hidden and beyond one’s comprehensive power. As S. Augustine says, si comprehendit non est Deus. Sometimes it happens that, by an abuse of reason, man distorts the truth of a mystery, trying to reduce it to something comprehensible for his week mind. The infinite richness of the divine truth is then denied because of the apparent contradictions experienced on account of his narrow intellect, and consequently this truth is adjusted in order to fit into a narrow and hideous system. But, as Hans Urs von Balthasar says, „the Cross explodes all systems,”[1] and we think that we can affirm the same of any other divine mystery.

Keeping in mind these truths, we want to analyze in our essay the sources of our knowledge about the Holy Trinity and also to see how philosophy can be used or abused in trying to penetrate this divine mystery. We will refer mainly to the Holy Scripture, but we will use also in our arguments some Encyclical Letters of Pope John Paul II, some texts from Hans Urs von Balthasar (Theodrama) and also some texts from Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Ia. We found also very helpful insights in Bertrand de Margerie’s book, The Christian Trinity in History, which has a deep analysis of the revealed analogies used in the Christian theology. Some other works will be quoted when necessary.

This essay was intended to express our conclusion to some serious discussions concerning the way of approaching the mystery of the Holy Trinity, a conclusion that we consider extremely important for one’s intellectus fidei. A mistake in this field would have serious consequences not only for one’s understanding of God (and theology in general), but also for one’s understanding of man and of the world. The constant reference to the mystery of the Trinity by the actual Magisterium, in particular that of Pope John Paul II[2] , is often explained by the fact that this divine truth stands at the basis of one’s understanding of any other divine mystery, of man and of his social relationships.

I. JESUS’ WORDS AND DEEDS

„Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds” (Heb. 1:1-2). These are the words with which the Letter to the Hebrews begins. Moreover, as the Second Vatican Council says, God revealed Himself through words and deeds:

The pattern of this revelation unfolds through deeds and words which are intrinsically connected: the works performed by God in the history of salvation show forth and confirm the doctrine and realities signified by the words; the words, for their part, proclaim the works, and bring to light the mystery they contain. [3]

Of course, the Council speaks here about the twofold supernatural action of God: His words, revealed in a supernatural way, are intrinsically connected with His supernatural works, enlightening one another. This can be seen in all the history of salvation, which culminates with the Incarnation of the Word of God Himself. Christ, the Son of the Living God, is Himself „both the mediator and the sum total of revelation.”[4] He is mediator because „no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”[5] Likewise, He is the sum total of revelation in so far as He is the Truth[6] and one who sees the Son sees the Father[7]. To resume, the final and complete revelation of God in His Son happened through Jesus’ words and deeds intrinsically connected, enlightening one another. God „has spoken to us” by Jesus’ whole life[8]. This must be for us a starting point in our considerations.

The second point we want to make is concerned with the reason of this final and complete revelation of God, which is seen by the Second Vatican Council as related to the supernatural end of human life. Insofar as God, in the fullness of His love, „addresses men as His friends”[9] and lives among them „in order to invite and receive them into His own company[10],” the end of the human life is understood as sharing in the intra-trinitarian relation, as becoming sons in the Only Begotten Son of God. Thus, men are called to „draw near to the Father, through Christ, the Word made flesh, in the Holy Spirit”[11] and to share in the divine nature. To reiterate, therefore, the reason of the ultimate Divine Revelation in Jesus Christ is men’s sharing in the intra-trinitarian life as adopted sons in the Son. Hence, the revelation of the mystery of the Holy Trinity is to be seen as standing at the heart of Jesus’ mission. This means that we have to look at how Jesus taught us about the Trinity, what words He used and to which of His deeds did He attach a particular importance in this revelation of the Triune God. Jesus spoke in human words, He performed human deeds, thus in our expression of the mystery of the Trinity we must draw our words from Jesus’ own words. Otherwise we risk going astray and loosing the very heart of the truth.

Keeping in mind these principles, we should look now to the Gospels. First let us analyse the main words used by Jesus himself. It is easy for everyone to see that the word most often used by Jesus when He spoke to God or about God is „Father”[12]. He also makes a clear distinction between His and our relation with the Father, when He says „My Father and your Father” (Jn. 20: 17); He actually used the words „our Father” only once, and then He does not include Himself in this „our”, for He says „when you pray, say . . .” (Lk. 11: 2).

Deeply connected with the word „Father” is the word „Son”, which again is used by Jesus in a different way for Himself than for us. The Gospels speak about Jesus’ divine sonship, a relation that is eternal, before the creation of the world (Jn. 1: 14, 18; 3: 16; 17: 5) and in which Jesus is One with His Father: „I and My Father are One” (Jn. 10: 30). Of course, such a relationship could not be applied to us, for we are not „before Abraham was” (Jn. 8: 58) and all things were not made through us (Jn. 1: 4). The Jews understood quite well Jesus’ claim to be divine, when they wanted to kill Him for „He called God His Father, making Himself equal to God” (Jn. 5: 18)[13]. They had been taught „to honor the Son, even as they honor the Father” (Jn. 5: 23) – an honor that they did not understand how to reconcile with „Shema, Israel, Adonai Eloheinou, Adonai Echad” (Dt. 6: 4)[14]. Jesus never claimed to be Himself „the Father”, for He spoke to the Father in an „I” – „Thou” distinction[15] and about the Father as „Other” than Himself. However, Jesus affirms that „I and My Father are One” (Jn. 10: 30), an affirmation that should help them to reconcile somehow His „equality with God” with Adonai Echad, God is One. At least they should have understood that Jesus never meant something that would contradict the Scriptures: „Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill” (Mt. 5: 17). Therefore, the first result of our inquiry is that Jesus affirmed Himself as God, both „One” with the One whom He calls „Father” and distinct from Him as His own unique Son.

Also, another word that appears connected with God is „the Holy Spirit [to pneuma to hagion – ruah ha kodesh]”. When Jesus uses it, He clearly means by it a person: the (other) Paraclete [ho parakletos], the Advocate, the Comforter (Jn. 14: 26; 15: 26; 16: 7). In the Gospel of John the Holy Spirit is spoken of as a „He”, „That One” [ekeinos]. Many personal characteristics are also attributed to this Holy Spirit: He hears, speaks, guides, declares (Jn. 16: 13), glorifies, takes (Jn. 16: 14), teaches (Jn. 14: 26), testifies (Jn. 15: 26), reproves (Jn. 16: 8). Actually, the very name of Comforter or Advocate implies a personal operation: to console, to defend.

Now, if Jesus clearly meant by the Holy Spirit a distinct Person, is this Person divine? Although we cannot find anywhere in the Gospels such an explicit affirmation, there is however an implicit evidence, on account of the origin and the works attributed to this Holy Spirit. He proceeds [ekporeuetai] from the Father (Jn. 15: 26); He is sent by the Father in the name of the Son (Jn. 14: 26) and by the Son from the Father (Jn. 15: 26); He will dwell with the disciples (Jn. 14: 17), like the Father and the Son who will make their abode with them (Jn. 14: 23); He is the Spirit of Truth [to pneuma tes aletheias], while Jesus is the Truth itself (Jn. 14: 6); He is „another Comforter” (Jn. 14: 16), Jesus being the first Comforter. Many other passages could also prove that Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as of a Divine Person. It is possible, however, that Jesus’ audience took the Holy Spirit to mean some attribute of the Father, some power coming forth from Him. In the three old Sacred Writings (Torah, Nabhiim, Ketubim) one can easily find the expression ruah elohim (the Spirit of God), which is not clearly understood as speaking about a Divine Person distinct from other Divine Persons, but we have shown that for Jesus the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person distinct from the Father and the Son. Now we have to come back to our previous question: how then can we still say „Adonai Echad” – the Lord is One? Although Jesus did not teach any sophisticated explanation for our intellectual difficulty, He let us understand that the principle of this divine unity is the Father Himself, as the One from whom the Son and the Spirit[16] come forth and with whom the Son and the Spirit are One.[17] Yet the mystery of their unity and distinction is far from being comprehended, though we might have some „lights” about it. Again, si comprehendit non est Deus. Jesus asked our fidei amorosa adhaesio.

After having analysed Jesus’ own words through which He chose to reveal the mystery of the Triune God, we should inquire now into His deeds – deeds that shed a special light on the understanding of this sublime mystery. Now, in considering these deeds we cannot ignore Jesus’ own interpretation of them, and therefore we are still concerned with Jesus’ words. As we said in the beginning of this chapter, these words and deeds are intrinsically connected: they enlighten one another. Along with Jesus’ words written in the Gospels that are relevant for our task there are also all the interpretations that we can find in Scripture in general, for Christ fulfils the Scriptures (Mt. 5: 17) and the Holy Spirit guides the Church into all the truth (Jn. 16: 13). [18]

One of Jesus’ most fundamental attitudes and deeds was His prayer to the Father, His permanent dialogue with Him. Christ never ceased to contemplate the Father, and as Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) observed, all Jesus’ deeds flowed from His communion with the Father, from His continual prayer[19]. Jesus is the One towards the Father (apud Deum – pros ton Theon, as in Jn. 1: 1). He continually went „into the hills” to pray in solitude (Mk. 1: 35; 6: 46), He is concerned only about His Father’s will, which is His „food” (Jn. 4: 34), and He even dies praying to the Father (cf. Mt. 27 :46; Mk. 15: 34; Lk. 23: 34, 46). This fact is particularly relevant for the „distance” between the Father and the Son, as the distance between „I” and „Thou”. Jesus applies this „distance” not only within His earthly life or only on account of His human nature, but even before His incarnation: „So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence [para soi] before the world existed” (Jn. 17: 5). The other important aspect of this dialogue with the Father is that Jesus’ own Person is revealed as a „dialogue”, as a „relation” with the Father. This is „the core of His personality.”[20]

Another important fact is Jesus’ awareness of being „sent”[21] by the Father. He „does not speak and act from Himself, but from Another: it is of His very essence that He comes from this Other.”[22] As Hans Urs von Balthasar says, „Jesus Christ is the Person, in an absolute sense, because in Him self-consciousness (of the conscious subject) coincides with the mission He has received from God, a mission that, because of this identity, cannot but be universal . . .”[23] This self-consciousness is expressed by words like „I am sent” (Lk. 4: 43), „I have come” (Jn. 5: 43), „the One whom the Father sent into the world” (Jn. 10: 36), etc. He [the Son] „can do nothing on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise” (Jn. 5: 19). That is why the Son is „the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His substance [character tes hypostaseos autou] (Heb. 1: 3). These last words suggest much more: the Son is not only sent into the world, but His very Person is „sent,” comes from the Father from all eternity. He is character tes hypostaseos autou, words that convert „to send” into „to beget”.[24] The Father is spoken of as „the One who sent” the Son (Jn. 7: 33; 8: 18, 26, 29, 42), while the Son is „the One sent” by the Father. Very often, in the Gospel of John, Jesus refers to Himself or to the Father only with these words, as being sufficient for their identity. If now we convert „to send” into „to beget”, the Father appears as „the One who begets”, and the Son as „the One begotten” from the Father. The Prologue of the Gospel of John expresses clearly this truth: Jesus is „the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1: 14). Jesus Himself seems to show this correspondence between His eternal procession from the Father and His mission: ego gar ek tou Theou exelthon kai eko – for I came forth and I came from God” (Jn. 8: 42). Missio follows processio, or, as Hans Urs von Balthasar says, „the Son’s missio has been taken up into His processio, rendering it timeless.”[25]

Another relevant activity of Jesus is His speaking „the word [ho logos] from the Father” (Jn. 14: 24). He is the Word [ho logos] of God (Jn. 1: 1), that is, the Word of the Father, from all eternity. In giving to the world the words that are „spirit” and „life” (Jn. 6: 63) Jesus gives Himself, for He says „I am the Life” (Jn. 14: 6). He gives what He is, for He is the Word of God.

To recap what we have said up to this point: Jesus’ deeds reveal His Person to be relation with the Father, the One coming forth from the Father and the Word of the Father. What then can be said about the Holy Spirit? We see that Jesus sent Him to His disciples after His resurrection (Jn. 20: 22, Lk. 24: 49), as He promised them (Jn. 14-16). But, using Jesus’ own interpretation, „he that is sent is not greater than he that sent him” (Jn. 13: 16). Therefore, Jesus appears here „greater” than the Holy Spirit. Of course, „greater” should be understood in this case only with respect to the origin, that is, the Holy Spirit has His being also from the Son. Similarly, the Father is said to be greater than the Son (Jn. 14: 28), who is, at the same time, God (Jn. 1: 1), One with the Father (Jn. 10: 30). Thus, the Holy Spirit comes forth from the Father (Jn. 15: 26) and from the Son, while the Son comes forth from the Father alone. The immanent Trinity is revealed in the economic Trinity, for missio follows processio.

There is, however, something more to speak of concerning the mystery of the Triune God, for „the Paschal Mystery is Christ at the summit of the revelation of the inscrutable mystery of God.”[26] Consequently, we should look in a particular way to this „summit” of the revelation, trying to see what we can learn from it about the Trinity.

II. THE PASCHAL MYSTERY AND THE HOLY TRINITY

In the light of the Cross, „death, which puts an end to words and meaning, itself becomes a word, becomes the place where meaning communicates itself.”[27] Moreover, the Cross „is in a sense the final word of His [Jesus’] messianic message and mission.” [28] In order to understand what this word actually says, we should look first for Jesus’ own interpretation: „No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn. 15: 13) and „God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life” (Jn. 3: 16). We see, therefore, the Cross as an expression of this love of the Father and of the Son for mankind. This love also has the dynamic of a gift of self, for Christ gives his own life and the Father gives what He has most preciously, His Son. Moreover, the Cross is an expression of Christ’s love for the Father: „I do as the Father has commanded Me, so that the world may know that I love the Father” (Jn. 14: 31). This love of the Son to the Father consists, according to Scriptures, in His being „obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2: 8), in His doing always „what is pleasing to Him [i.e., to the Father]” (Jn. 8: 29). Yet in this case the Cross can be seen as a „dialogue” of love between the Father and the Son, for the Father answers to this gift of the Son: „For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again” (Jn. 10: 17). „The Father loves the Son” (Jn. 3: 35; 5: 20) and the „Son loves the Father” (Jn. 14: 31)… Moreover, as Hans Urs von Balthasar says, God „does not become ‘love’ by having the world as His ‘thou’ and His ‘partner’: in Himself, in lofty transcendence far above the world, He ‘is love’ already.” [29] We have to avoid a process theology (which implies a change in God, like in Hegel’s view) as well as a modalism or semi-modalism (which consider the Persons merely as modes of manifestation of the same hypostasis, therefore not really distinct); thus, the Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father from all eternity. Their very love is the Holy Spirit. In fact, it is this love that „keeps the distance” between the Father and the Son, and nowhere is this „distance” more clearly seen than on the Cross. That is why it can be said that „the Cross reveals the Trinity,” [30] for the doctrine of the Trinity is an „inner presupposition of the doctrine of the Cross.” [31] In the love of the Son on the Cross one can see „the invisible nature of the Father.” [32] As Pope John Paul II says, „it is precisely then [in the Paschal Mystery] that the words pronounced in the Upper Room are completely fulfilled: ‘He who has seen Me has seen the Father.'”[33]

Moreover, as Pope John Paul II says, „he who loves desires to give himself.” [34] There is then a „dynamic” of self-giving between the Father and the Son from all eternity, for we have seen that their reciprocal love is eternal. In His self-giving the Son does nothing else but imitates the Father, for He is „the express image of His [of Father’s] substance [character tes hypostaseos autou]/” (Heb. 1: 3). The kenosis of the Son presupposes the kenosis of the Father, or, as Hans Urs von Balthasar says, „the drama of the ‘emptying’ of the Father’s heart, in the generation of the Son, . . . contains and surpasses all possible drama between God and the world.” [35] It is „an initial kenosis within the Godhead that underpins all subsequent kenosis,” and the Son answers to the gift of Godhead (of equal substance with the Father) in „an eternal thanksgiving (eucharistia) to the Father, a thanksgiving as selfless and unreserved as the Father’s original self-surrender.” [36] The Holy Spirit, proceeding from both (as their subsistent ‘We’), „maintains the infinite difference between them, seals it and, since He is the one Spirit of them both, bridges it.” [37]

Only on account of this „dynamic” of kenosis within the Godhead can we speak about the „suffering” of the Father. Because the Son is the image of the Father, „in the humanity of the Son the ‘suffering’ of God is concretized.” [38] The Holy Spirit, searching „the depths of God” (I Cor. 2: 10) reveals this „unimaginable and inexpressible”, „inscrutable and indescribable” fatherly „pain” [39]caused by the mysterium iniquitatis, and unfolds also God’s response: His salvific Trinitarian love, mysterium pietatis. Although this kind of divine „suffering” is not caused by „deficiencies or wounds,” for God is „the necessarily most perfect being,” [40] it remains a real „suffering”. As Father François-Xavier Durwell says, „God is far away from suffering as human being know it.” [41]

To recap: the Paschal Mystery reveals a God who is triune love, a love that constitutes His very being, a love that is expressed through a total gift of self. „God is love” (I Jn. 4: 8, 16), and it is this love that accounts for and is the Trinity.

III. USE AND ABUSE OF PHILOSOPHY

Having seen how we can approach the mystery of the Triune God, in trying to understand more fully what we believe (this is our intellectus fidei), we have to find the right way between Tertulian’s credo quia absurdum and the rationalistic credo quia intelligo. The first denies totally any possibility of understanding anything about the divine mysteries, which seem to be against reason; the last affirms a comprehensive knowledge, which in fact is a distorted one. That is why we should look for some analogies suggested already in Scripture, analogies that express our human knowledge about those mysteries. [42] Throughout the last fifteen centuries, concerning the mystery of the Trinity, three such analogies have been present to Christian thought, although sometimes in a veiled manner: (1) the analogy of the family – human friendship and intersubjectivity; (2) the analogy of the Church; and (3) the analogy of the individual soul. This order is not accidental, for we think that this is the order of the frequency with which they appear in Scripture. We should speak shortly about each of these analogies.

(1) The analogy of the family (more widely human friendship and intersubjectivity) occurs, as we have seen, in the very names „Father” and „Son”, which are taken from the familial relationships. Also, the same analogy can be inferred from all the „dialogues” between the incarnated Son and the Father, „dialogues” manifested as prayer or as action (i.e., the „dialogue of love” – vide supra). The „I” – „Thou” – „We” terminology is nothing else than the expression of intersubjectivity. „I” is not a simple individual, but a subject who posits himself consciously before others. Likewise, an „I” says „Thou” only to another person, and then enters into dialogue with that person. Finally, „We” is said to another but with another. [43] But some Fathers of the Church went even further: they tried to use the image of a nuclear family (father – mother – son), particularly the first human family (Adam, Eve and Set) for the Trinity. St. Methodius of Olympus and St. Ephrem the Syrian followed the sequence the Father- Adam, the Son-Set and the Holt Spirit-Eve. But this was problematic on account of Filioque – the Son is not born from the Spirit. St. Gregory of Nazianzus however finally identified Eve with the Son and Set with the Spirit. [44] He seems to be right, for the Spirit is the fruit of love between the Father and the Son, proceeding from both. When S. Augustine criticized the analogy of the family, he criticized the first one (Eve=Spirit and Set=Son), and this principally on account of Filioque. Saint Thomas, however, knew about the analogy used in the manner of S. Gregory the Theologian, but he did no like it because „a material procession seems unsuitable for signifying the immaterial procession of Divine Persons.” [45] The same materiality seems to be objected by S. Augustine in De Trinitate. But, as Bertrand de la Margerie says:

If this example ‘borrowed from a material origin’ was truly such a ‘poor choice’ to represent ‘the immaterial procession of the Divine Persons’, must we not say that the Revealer Himself has deceived us in wishing to be called Father and Son? The material origin of a son with respect to his father is not different from that of the same son with respect to his two parents.[46]

Also, the analogy of the family seems to be suggested by S. Paul himself, in I Cor. 11: 7, when he says that „the head of the woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God [the Father].” Thus Christ is to the Father as the woman is to her husband. Finally, the Holy Scripture speaks almost always in these intersubjective or familial terms, thus this analogy has to be seen as the principal one, according to Scripture. Man is made to the „image of God not only in his being and nature, but also in his activity and relation.” [47]

(2) The analogy of the Church is drawn from Jn. 17: 21-22, where „the unity of the Father and of the Son in the ‘We’ of the Holy Spirit is the exemplary, efficient and final cause of the unity of Christians in the ‘We’ of the Church.” [48] We will not insist very much on it, for it can be reduced somehow to the intersubjectivity of the former analogy. However, this analogy of the Church is very much used in our days, particularly by and after Vatican II Council.

(3) The analogy of the individual soul, so widely used by the medieval theology, [49] particularly by Scholasticism, in which mens, notitia and amor are images of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In this analogy are important the intellectual processions, which are images of the divine processions: mens meminit sui – the Father, intelligit se – the Son, and diligit se – the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Son proceeds from the Father per modum intellectus (He is the Word of God – Jn. 1: 1), while the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son per modum amoris. This analogy is particularly relevant because seems to give an account for „why” there are only three Divine Persons and also because distinguishes very clearly the generation of the Son from the procession of the Spirit. This analogy, however, also has its own deficiencies: the mind, its knowledge and its love do not constitute one single nature, for the knowing of the mind is not its existing. It fails also especially because it looses the intersubjectivity, and consequently the very notion of Person.

A careful examination of each of these analogies would conclude that every analogy of the Trinitarian mystery remains deficient. [50] They complement one another, for as Nédocelle says:

[The] intersubjective love fails because it keeps us several persons, and the intra-subjective love fails because it keeps us alone. Plurality of the ‘We’, solitude of the ‘I’: apparently inverse evils which express the same defect of being, in linea naturae, then in linea personae [51]. . . .

That is why no one should try to pretend the singular use of one of these analogies, for this would mean that he thinks of the analogy as being perfect. But an analogy, inasmuch as it is an analogy, is imperfect by its very definition. And one could exclusively apply such an imperfect image to the mystery of the Trinity only by distorting the truth, by trying to „fit” the divine reality into a hideous and narrow-minded system. Like the child seen by St. Augustine, he would try to carry the sea into a minuscule hollow. In fact, this would mean to deny the very notion of mystery. What else could be more dangerous for our intellectus fidei? Philosophy should serve, not distort our faith. We have to make use – not abuse – of reason, for every time that reason pretends to overcome its limits, it turns against itself.

IV. CONCLUSIONS

To use the words of St. Basil the Great, „we confess that we know what is knowable of God and yet what we know reaches beyond our comprehension.” [52] This seems to be the best summary of what we think it is the right approach to the mystery of the Trinity. Having the word of God at the basis of this approach, reading it in the living tradition of the Church and recognising our intellectual weakness, we should ask the Holy Spirit to transform us into true sons of God and to lead us into the very heart of the Triune Love. Then we will understand from within, and our understanding will become our very life, for „this is eternal life, that they know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (Jn. 17: 3).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia, St. Paul Books & Media.

2. John Paul II, Dominum et Vivificantem (Boston: Pauline, 1986).

3. Hans Urs von Balthasar, Theodrama, vol. III – IV, trans. By Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1994.

4. Vatican Council II, Dei Verbum, ch. 1, 2, apud Vatican Council II. The Basic Sixteen Documents (New York, Costello Publishing Company: 1996), general editor: Austin Flannery O.P.

5. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997).

6. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Behold the Pierced One – An Approach to a Spiritual Christology, trans. by Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986).

7. Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Ia.

8. Bertrand de la Margerie, S.J., The Christian Trinity in History, trans. by Edmund J. Fortman, S.J. (Petersham: St. Bede’s Publications, 1982).

9. Feu et Lumičre, N0 180, Janvier 2000.

Notes

[1] Hans Urs von Balthasar, Theodrama, vol. IV (The Action), trans. By Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1994), p. 319.

[2] For example, the three Encyclical Letters Dives in Misericordia, Redemptor Hominis and Dominum et Vivificantem are intended as a clarification of the mystery of the Trinity in our social and ecclesiological context. Also, the preparatory years for the Jubilee show the same insistence of Magisterium on this mystery.

[3] Vatican Council II, Dei Verbum, ch. 1, 2, apud Vatican Council II. The Basic Sixteen Documents (New York, Costello Publishing Company: 1996), general editor: Austin Flannery O.P., p. 98.

[4] Vatican Council II, ibid., apud ibid.

[5] Mt. 11: 27.

[6] See Jn. 14: 6.

[7] See Jn. 14: 9.

[8] For example, the new Catechism of the Catholic Church says: „From the swaddling clothes of his birth to the vinegar of his Passion and the shroud of his Resurrection, everything in Jesus’ life was a sign of his mystery. (…) Christ’s whole earthly life – his words and deeds, his silences and sufferings, indeed his manner of being and speaking – is Revelation of the Father. Jesus can say: „Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”, and the Father can say: „This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” Because our Lord became man in order to do his Father’s will, even the least characteristics of his mysteries manifest „God’s love . . . among us”.” (§515-16)

[9] Vatican Council II, idem, apud ibid., p. 98.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] In the Gospels, Jesus uses this word for circa 130 times in order to express His relation with God.

[13] Jesus never denied the fact that He is God, although He never said it explicitly. Of relevance here is His dialogue with the high priest (Mk. 14: 61-62), where Jesus’ divine sonship is clearly understood as „equality wit God”. Jesus did not contradict this understanding, but He accepted death on account of this claim.

[14] Engl. : „Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord”. We have also to remember that a Jew had to recite this „creed” at least three times per day, thus they had a strong sense of the „oneness” of God. We will speak more about this „I – Thou” language in the fourth chapter of our paper.

[15] We will speak more about this „I – Thou” language in the fourth chapter of our paper

[16] We did not mention the Filioque because we refered to the principal (ultimate) origin (gr., aitia) of the Holy Spirit.

[17]We will develop more this idea in chapter III

[18] Jesus says „I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (Jn. 16: 12). That is why the Holy Spirit will have to guide the Church into all the truth. This will happen especially through the writings of the Apostles. So we have to look for an interpretation of Jesus’ deeds not only in Jesus’ own words, for He did not tell to his disciples what they could not bear at that time

[19] See Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Behold the Pierced One – An Approach to a Spiritual Christology, trans. by Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), p. 17.

[20] Ibidem, p. 18.

[21] This word occurs for 52 times in the Four Gospels (used in the sense we speak of now), and for 43 times only in the Gospel of John

[22] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, op. cit., p. 22.

[23]Hans Urs von Balthasar, Theodrama, vol. III (The Dramatis Personae: The Person in Christ), trans. By Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1994), p. 509.

[24] To be character tes hypostaseos autou is a very strong expression, which implies a very strong likeness. This verse inspired some Fathers of the Church to say that the Father and the Son are of the same hypostasis – substance (see the Nicene Creed).

[25] Hans Urs von Balthasar, op. cit., vol. III, p. 513.

[26] John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia, St. Paul Books & Media, p. 29 (emphasis added by us).

[27] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, op. cit., p. 25.

[28] John Paul II, op. cit., p. 26.

[29] Hans Urs von Balthasar, op. cit., vol. III, p. 509 (emphasis added by us).

[30] Ibidem, vol. IV, p. 320..

[31] Ibidem, p. 319.

[32]John Paul II, op. cit., p. 9.

[33]Ibidem, p. 29.

[34]Ibidem, p. 25.

[35]Hans Urs von Balthasar, op. cit., vol. IV, pp. 326-27.

[36]Ibidem, pp. 323-24. Actually, Hans Urs von Balthasar borrows this idea from Bulgakov.

[37]Ibidem

[38]John Paul II, Dominum et Vivificantem (Boston: Pauline, 1986), p. 64 (§ 39).

[39]Ibidem, pp. 62-63 (§ 39).

[40]Ibidem.

[41]Lit., „Dieu est hors de portée de la souffrance telle que les hommes la connaissent” – Pčre François-Xavier Durwell, Le Pčre, Dieu en son mystčre (Cerf; 1999), apud Feu et Lumičre, N0 180, Janvier 2000, p. 52.

[42]”Human knowledge,” in the sense of, as much as an analogy can convey. As Hans Urs von Balthasar says, „only with great caution should we adduce analogies for the Trinity from outside Christianity”, for „they lack the ‘economic’ basis” (op. cit., vol. III, p. 508).

[43]These explanation are taken almost ad litteram from Bertrand de la Margerie, S.J., The Christian Trinity in History, trans. by Edmund J. Fortman, S.J. (Petersham: St. Bede’s Publications, 1982), pp. 280-81.

[44]See Bertrand de la Margerie, op. cit., p. 276.

[45]S. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Ia, q. 36, a. 3, 1st reply. He uses Abel instead of Set.

[46]Bertrand de la Margerie, op. cit., p. 279.

[47]Ibidem, p. 277.

[48]Ibidem, p. 292. This is not taken in the sense given by Joachim de Fiore, for whom the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit seem not to share the same being.

[49]And also by some Greek Fathers, like St. John of Damascus (see De Fide Orthodoxa, XIII).

[50]Cf. DS 806.

[51]M. Nédocelle, apud Bertrand de Margerie, op. cit., pp. 301-04. He refers to man as image of the Trinity, that is why he says „it keeps us” several or alone (comparing this imperfect image with the truly One and in the same timeTriune God).

[52]St. Basil, Epistula 235. 2.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

INDULGENŢELE ÎN PERSPECTIVĂ ECUMENICĂ. CONTRIBUŢII PROTESTANTE ŞI ORTODOXE LA TEOLOGIA INDULGENŢELOR

Număr de vizionări :1812

Wilhelm Tauwinkl

http://www.studiatheologica.cnet.ro/pdf/200602art5.pdf

(un articol care merită citit)

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

Card. Joseph Ratzinger – On the question of the indissolubility of marriage

Număr de vizionări :1579

Translation by Joseph Bolin

http://www.pathsoflove.com/pdf/ratzinger-indissolubility-marriage.pdf

An excellent article.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 2 votes)

The Virtue of Hope

Număr de vizionări :5535

 in St. Thomas’ Summa Theologiae

Leonard Tony Farauanu

http://www.studiatheologica.cnet.ro/pdf/201001art4.pdf

„In Deum salutare meum et gloria mea Deus

auxilii mei et spes mea in Deo est” (Ps. 61: 8, VUL).

Introduction

Following Saint Paul’s words, “nunc autem manet fides, spes, caritas, tria haec; maior autem his est caritas” (I Cor. 13: 13, VUL), the Fathers of the Church and all those who came after them recognized three fundamental virtues, which they called “theological”: faith, hope and charity. These virtues are a supernatural gift of God, “a reflection of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit within the Christian,”[1] for they help human beings to attain their supernatural end – the eternal happiness.

In this essay we will treat of one of these theological virtues, namely hope, using Saint Thomas’ discussion in Summa Theologiae, especially in IIa IIae, q. 17. First, we will treat of hope as virtue, especially as a theological virtue; second, we will analyze the object of this virtue, and in the end we will relate hope to the other two theological virtues, that is, to faith and charity.

I.       Hope as theological virtue

In his treatise on the passions of the soul, Saint Thomas defines hope as “a movement of the appetitive power ensuing from the apprehension of a future good, difficult but possible to obtain.”[2] However, this definition refers to hope as passion, not as virtue. Saint Thomas classifies hope as one among the five passions proper to the irascible appetite (hope/despair, fear/daring and anger), and consequently it is not possible in such a context for hope to be a virtue. Rather, as opposed to despair, hope is moderated by other virtues, as fortitude,[3] magnificence [Gr., megaloprepeia] and magnanimity.[4] Nevertheless, there is a virtue of hope, which is different from the passion of the irascible appetite, although it borrows its name on account of some similarities with it. But how is it then different from hope as passion of the irascible appetite? What makes it a virtue? To answer these questions, Saint Thomas uses first the definition of virtue given by Aristotle in Ethics: “the virtue of a thing is that which makes its subject good, and its work good likewise.”[5] Furthermore, he defines what makes a human act good, namely, the attainment of its proper rule or measure. But this rule is twofold: one proximate and homogeneous, namely, the natural reason, and one remote and excelling, namely, God. Therefore, when one’s act attains[6] reason or God Himself, this act is to be considered a good one. Now, coming back to the object of hope as passion – a future good difficult but possible to obtain, this possibility can refer either to one’s own power or to one being helped by somebody else. Thus, inasmuch as one hopes to obtain some future difficult good as being possible by his own power, his hope is merely a passion of his irascible appetite. But when one hopes to obtain some future difficult good as possible by means of Divine help, then his hope attains God Himself. Consequently, his hope is a virtue, for it makes one’s act to attain the due rule, in this case God Himself.

A further question arises now: what kind of virtue hope is? To answer it one should analyze the object of this virtue,[7] for it is the object that specifies a habit. In the case of hope, its object must be something worthy of God, since the one who hopes relies on the help of God when expecting to attain the desired good. But, inasmuch as God is infinite, an object worthy of His help should also be an infinite one, namely, God Himself. Therefore, the virtue of hope has as its primary and proper object God Himself. However, the highest way in which an intellectual being can attain God is the beatific vision, which eternal happiness consists in. Hence it can be said also that eternal happiness is the proper object of hope. Finally, since the principles that direct human beings aright to their supernatural happiness are called theological virtues,[8] it follows that hope in God is one of the theological virtues.

Some might object that hope is not a virtue, for it is not a mean between two vices. However, none of the theological virtues is such a mean. The proper object of the these virtues is God Himself, who is infinite; thus it cannot be an excess of trusting God, of hoping in God or of loving God,[9] who can never be trusted too much, hoped in too much or loved too much. Also, when a moral virtue, for example, observes a mean between two extremes, its object is ruled by reason. By contrary, a theological virtue finds no rule above its object, since this object Himself – God – is the Supreme and First Rule. Therefore hope is a virtue, and a theological one.

There are now other two characteristics of hope following immediately upon its definition as a theological virtue: hope is infused in us by God alone and its existence is known to us only by Divine revelation in Scriptures.[10]  By revelation alone we come to know about man’s supernatural end, and the attainment of this end is possible only by a supernatural help of God – the Divine grace, which the theological virtues are a fruit of. Hence, hope is necessary for salvation (“we are saved by hope”[11]) and it is a characteristic sign of the new life in Christ: “who . . . hath regenerated us unto a lively hope . . . unto an inheritance incorruptible . . . reserved in heaven.”[12] 

 

II.    The object of hope

Though we touched this subject in the precedent chapter, we should have now a more detailed analysis of the object of hope as theological virtue. We have seen that the proper object is God Himself, or in other words the eternal happiness, which consists in sharing in the Divine life. However, one may hope to obtain by the help of God many different goods; would then this hope be of a different kind? The answer is simple: if those goods are means to the last supreme good, then it is the same virtue of hope by which one expects to obtain both the supreme good and those goods directed to it. The same happens with the theological virtue of charity, by which one loves God and his neighbor for the sake of God. But, as in this case one loves God principally and everything else secondarily (and for the sake of God), in the same way the object of hope is God principally and the other goods directed to God secondarily (and for the sake of God).

 Moreover, the object of one’s hope can be not only his own eternal happiness, but also someone else’s happiness. Though “movement is always towards its own term which is proportionate to the subject moved,”[13] when one loves his friend he regards him as his other self, thus he desires for his friend what he desires for himself as for himself. But if he hopes the eternal happiness for himself, then he will hope the same happiness for his friend whom he loves. In fact, this is a certain sign of friendship; if one does not hope this supreme good for someone else, then he does not regard him as a friend.

Another distinction to be made is with respect to the help one relies on when hoping the eternal life. Since only God can move a human being to attain this last end, it would appear that no one should expect this help from a creature, as Jeremiah says: “Cursed be the man that trusts in man.”[14] But the Church always taught that we should ask for the help of the saints, or for the prayers of others. Would not then be a contradiction between these two teachings? Saint Thomas, using his blessed principle semper distinguere, answers that one should hope in the help of God principally and in the help of the others secondarily, as they are the ministers of God’s Providence. In other words, God is regarded as the primary efficient cause of this help, while all others are secondary efficient causes (or instrumental efficient causes), on account on their absolute dependence upon God. Thus, it is not forbidden to hope to attain the eternal happiness by the help of the others, provided that he who hopes relies primarily on the help of God and only secondarily on the help of creatures, as instruments of God. It would be however a grave sin for someone to hope to attain happiness primarily by the help of a creature, for this would mean to idolize that creature and by consequence to deprive God of His due place in one’s life.

III. Hope related to faith and charity

It remains now to see how is the theological virtue of hope similar and in the same time different from the other two theological virtues, namely, faith and charity. In order to do that, we have to recall the definitions of these two other virtues. Thus, faith[15] is a supernatural habit of the mind that enables one to adhere firmly to the First Truth (God Himself), adherence which is the beginning of salvation. Further, charity is a supernatural habit that unites one to God through love, union which will be perfect only in the state of bliss. Thus, if we define hope as a supernatural habit of the mind that enables one to expect to attain the Supreme Good (God Himself) by the help of God, then the similarities and the differences between the three theological virtues become clear. First, with respect to similarities, one can easily observe that, as theological virtues, all of them have as their proper object God Himself. Also, all of them are infused by God and known through revelation only, being necessary to salvation. As Saint Thomas observes, these “supernatural principles”[16] come to perfect the natural principles of intellect and will, in order to enable one to reach his supernatural end.

As regards their differences, though all of them have God as their proper object, yet they adhere to God in a different manner. One can adhere to something either for its own sake, or for the sake of something else. Thus, through the virtue of charity one adheres to God for His own sake, loving Him unconditionally. On the other hand, through the virtues of faith and hope one adheres to God as to someone by whom he attains his supernatural end. For example, by faith one adheres to God as to the First Truth, as to the One from whom he derives the knowledge of truth whereby his salvation begins. Likewise, by hope one adheres to God as to the supreme Helper, the One in whose assistance he can trust. Therefore all the theological virtues have as their proper object God Himself, but under a different aspect, and this difference in aspect is sufficient to differentiate these virtues from one another.

Another difference to be noted between these virtues is with respect to their order in generation and perfection. Thus, since one must know something before loving it or before hoping to obtain it, it is clear that faith, which gives the knowledge of God, must be first in the order of generation. Both hope and charity depend on faith, which is the beginning of salvation, for all the revealed truths about God – that He exists,[17] that He is good, that He is willing to help us, that He is our supreme happiness – are known through faith. Furthermore, in order to love God as his Supreme Good, one must hope that he is able to attain this Good by Divine help. Thus in this sense hope precedes charity in generation. Another argument in the same sense is that hope, which is the expression of an imperfect love,[18] must precede charity, which is the perfection of love (inasmuch as perfection is posterior to imperfection). Therefore, simply speaking, in the order of generation faith comes first, hope second and charity is the last among the theological virtues.

As regards the order of perfection, since in the order of generation the imperfect precedes the perfect, it could be easily said that charity is the first, hope is the second and faith is the last. We should explain now how hope perfects faith and how charity perfects both faith and hope. Thus, hope can be considered a confirmation of faith, for no one can hope to attain happiness by the help of God unless he firmly believes that this happiness exists, that it is possible for him to attain it and that God is willing to help him. Likewise, since through charity one loves God as a friend, this friendship will make his faith and his hope stronger, for one trusts more a friend and hopes mostly in his friend. Finally, since charity is the form of all virtues,[19] it perfects all virtues, therefore faith and hope as well.

 

Conclusions

We have seen that hope is a virtue because it has God as its proper object, for through hope one is moved to expect the attainment of eternal happiness by the help of God. Thus, hope is one among the three theological virtues and differs specifically from the other two on account of the different aspect under which it attains God – the Supreme Helper.  Its existence is not known to us by natural reason, but only by Divine revelation. Moreover, we have seen that one can hope not only for eternal happiness, but also for all other goods directed to this happiness, and that in hoping the attainment of happiness and of the other goods directed to it one can rely primarily only on the help of God, and secondarily on the help of His creatures that are His instruments. As Saint Paul says, “in this hope we were saved” (Rom. 8: 24).


[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, §1841.

[2] Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Ia IIae, q. 40, a. 2, corpus.

[3] Ibidem, Ia, q. 95, a. 3, ad secundum.

[4] Ibidem, Ia IIae, q. 60, a. 5, corpus.

[5] Ibidem, IIa IIae, q. 17, a. 1, corpus.

[6] Here “attains” means “is ruled by”, “is subject to” or “is in harmony with”.

[7] Although we dedicated the third chapter of this paper to the analysis of the object of hope, we will touch this subject to some extent in this chapter also, as much as it is necessary for our discussion. 

[8] Saint Thomas, op. cit., Ia IIae, q. 62, a. 1, corpus.

[9] Although there is often a deficiency in trusting, hoping in and loving God.

[10] Saint Thomas, op. cit., Ia IIae, q. 62, a. 1, corpus.

[11] Rom. 8: 24.

[12] I Peter 1: 3-4.

[13] Saint Thomas, op. cit., IIa IIae, q. 17, a. 3, corpus.

[14] Jer. 17: 5.

[15] As theological virtue, of course.

[16] Saint Thomas, op. cit, Ia IIae, q. 62, a. 3, corpus.

[17] This can be known also by natural reason alone, but it is also possible that one comes to the certitude of God’s existence through faith.

[18] For through hope God is loved not for His own sake, but for the sake of something else, namely, the attainment of eternal happiness.

[19] Saint Thomas, op. cit., IIa IIae, q. 23, a. 8, corpus.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Călugărul şi mireanul cununat

Număr de vizionări :1476

Câteva comparatii dupa izvoare monastice timpurii.

de P.S. Kallistos WARE

 Traducere si adaptare de Dragos BAHRIM

Episcopul ortodox Kallistos Ware s-a nascut in 1934, din parinti anglicani practicanti. A studiat la Oxford limbile clasice si teologia, iar in anul 1958 s-a convertit la ortodoxie. Asa cum insusi marturiseste, la frumusetea Ortodoxiei a ajuns nu prin lecturi sau prin studiu, ci prin Liturgia ortodoxa, care a avut un impact deosebit asupra sensibilitatii sale duhovnicesti. In prezent P.S. Kallistos este episcop de Diokleia si profesor la Universitatea Oxford, fiind cunoscut in mediile teologice ca un marturisitor, prin credinta si viata, al invataturilor credintei ortodoxe.

Din activitatea teologica a P.S. Kallistos amintim in primul rind traducerea (colectiva) in engleza a Filocaliei, ajunsa deja la al patrulea volum, precum si monumentala traducere a Triodului, o carte esentiala din cultul ortodox; de asemenea, Episcopul Kallistos Ware este autorul a numeroase studii de spiritualitate ortodoxa, precum si autor al mai multor volume de prezentare generala a Ortodoxiei (The Power of the Name, The Orthodox Church, The Orthodox Way etc.).

Studiul pe care il traducem in continuare, The Monk and The Married Christian: Some Comparisons in Early Monastic Sources, pune in discutie, din perspectiva literaturii ascetice vechi, raportul dintre slujirea calugareasca si cea in familie, respectiv ca monah sau mirean cununat, in vederea mintuirii.

Detasindu-se de unele opinii exagerate care circula in unele medii monastice mai noi, potrivit carora se pot mintui si pot ajunge pe inalte trepte duhovnicesti doar monahii si dintre acestia doar o elita (vezi, de exemplu, Teoclit Dionisiatul, in Dialoguri in Athos, vol.I, Deisis, 1994, pp. 91, 192-194), P.S. Kallistos subliniaza, valorificind in special izvoare duhovnicesti precum Patericul, Limonariul s.a., posibilitatea mintuirii in egala masura atit a pustnicului retras din lume, cit si a mireanului care si-a intemeiat o familie si care traieste in lume. Viziunea episcopului de Diokleia este aceea a unui echilibru, absolut necesar Bisericii, intre vocatia monahala si cea familiala, care nu presupune mai putina jertfelnicie:

“Casatoria si viata monastica se completeaza si se echilibreaza cam in felul in care se completeaza si se echilibreaza in teologie calea catafatica si calea apofatica (…) Ambele sint taine ale iubirii… Amindoua caile sint expresii reale ale preotiei imparatesti, universale, a celui care a primit botezul (…) Ambii (monahul si mireanul in familie) renega pacatul si afirma lumea. Diferenta dintre ei ramine numai in conditiile exterioare ale luptei lor ascetice”. (K. Ware, Imparatia launtrica, Christiana, 1996).

Porunca desavirsirii in iubire este aceeasi pentru toti, insa modurile plinirii ei pot fi diferite, potrivit vocatiei si lucrarii fiecaruia. (Dragos BAHRIM)

Patru exemple

“Sa nu te gindesti vreodata sa fericesti pe mirean mai mult decit pe monah, ca pe unul care are femeie si copii si e bucuros ca face bine altora, ca da din belsug milostenie… Si chiar daca, fiind calugar, esti foarte pacatos, necazul si reaua patimire a sufletului tau sunt mai de cinste la Dumnezeu decit virtutea covirsitoare a mireanului”, spunea Sf. Ioan Carpatiul (sec.VII)1. Consideratiile lui privind virtutile calugarului si ale crestinului casatorit sunt proprii intregii literaturi monastice, rasariteana sau apuseana, veche sau mai noua. “Modul de viata calugaresc” – dupa cum marturiseste, simplu Patericul – “este superior celui al omului din lume”2.

O asemenea revendicare provoaca neliniste in mintile multor cititori contemporani. Cit de mult inseamna aceasta superioritate a vietii monastice? Oare Patericul si alte izvoare monastice timpurii impun in mod tacit un “dublu standard” prin care comunitatea crestina este impartita in doua clase distincte, “desavirsitii” si “dreptii”? Iar aceasta deosebire stricta, pe trepte, intre o elita ascetica si ceilalti botezati poate fi impacata cu invatatura lui Hristos?

Problema poate fi ilustrata prin patru relatari despre felul in care barbatul sau femeia alege viata monahala. Vom incepe cu chemarea Sfintului Antonie cel Mare, descrisa de Sfintul Atanasie. Intr-o dimineata de duminica, la Sfinta Liturghie in biserica din satul sau, Antonie este miscat profund de cuvintele Evangheliei din acea zi: “Daca voiesti sa fii desavirsit, du-te, vinde averea ta, da-o saracilor… dupa aceea, vino si urmeaza-Mi” (Matei 19, 21). Acest text il indeamna imediat sa aleaga calea ascetica3. Daca voiesti sa fii desavirsit… Atunci, desavirsirea este oare imposibila pentru cei care continua sa traiasca in lume, pastrindu-si averea, casatorindu-se si aducind pe lume copii?

Convertirea la monahism a Sfintului Arsenie, inregistrata in Pateric, ridica aceeasi intrebare. Cind Avva Arsenie era inca in palatele imparatesti, s-a rugat lui Dumnezeu, zicind: “Doamne, indrepteaza-ma, ca sa stiu cum ma voi mintui”. Si i-a venit lui un glas zicindu-i: “Arsenie, fugi de oameni si te vei mintui”4. Dar se putea ca Arsenie sa nu se mintuiasca daca raminea in palatele imparatesti, ca educator al copilului bazileului? In ce sens fuga de lume este indispensabila pentru mintuire?

Al treilea exemplu provine din Viata greceasca a Sfintului Pahomie. Cind mama lui Teodor merge la manastire si cere sa-si vada fiul, el refuza sa o intilneasca; atunci ea hotaraste sa nu se mai intoarca acasa, ci sa ramina in comunitatea de maici de pe linga minastire. “Nu numai ca-l voi vedea printre frati”, si-a zis ea, “ci imi voi mintui si sufletul”5. Ne intrebam: nu isi putea mintui sufletul fara sa ramina in comunitatea monahala? Este monahismul singurul drum sigur catre mintuire?

Dificultatea apare mai pregnant in tulburatoarea experienta a lui Theonas, relatata de Sf. Ioan Casian6. Influentat de o predica pe care o auzise, Theonas isi obliga sotia sa consimta despartirea lor, pentru ca ei sa poata intra in monahism, alegind ceea ce el numeste melior vita, o “viata mai buna”. Ea refuza, insa el insista. “Sa slujim lui Dumnezeu”, ii spune el, “si sa scapam impreuna de primejdia iadului”. (Oare nu puteau continua sa “slujeasca lui Dumnezeu” in cununie, ca sot si sotie crestini, “scapind impreuna de pedeapsa iadului”?). In pofida impotrivirilor ei, Theonas o paraseste si se calugareste fara consimtamintul sotiei. Iata cuvintele lui de despartire: “Daca nu te pot izbavi de moarte, nici nu te pot lasa sa ma desparti de Hristos, este mai mintuitor pentru mine sa ma despart de o fiinta omeneasca decit de Dumnezeu”. Casian nu este foarte incintat de aceasta intimplare, adaugind imediat: “Sa nu-si inchipuiasca cineva ca am povestit acestea pentru a incuraja despartirile intre cei casatoriti. Dimpotriva, nu numai ca ne abtinem sa condamnam casatoria in vreun fel, ci spunem, dupa cuvintele Apostolului: «Cinstita sa fie nunta intru toate si patul neintinat» (Evrei, 13, 4)”. Casian arata mai departe ca ceilalti Parinti din manastire sunt departe de a-l dezaproba pe Theonas pentru fapta lui, ba mai mult, l-au desemnat impartitor al milosteniei si l-au hirotonit diacon ca semn al aprobarii dumnezeiesti.

Cine sa aiba dreptate

Ce putem intelege din aceste patru cazuri? Ar fi arbitrar si nedrept sa scoatem citeva afirmatii din context si sa le interpretam ca pe o condamnare generala a casatoriei. Este adevarat ca unii dintre primii monahi priveau starea de casatorie ca fiind pacatoasa si, ipso facto, un obstacol in calea mintuirii7. Dar Casian respinge intentionat o asemenea opinie si credem ca Sfinti ca Antonie si Atanasie, Arsenie si Pahomie l-ar fi aprobat cu siguranta. Ei ar fi fost gata sa afirme dupa cuvintele Sf. Grigorie de Nazianz: “Pentru ca fecioria este mai slavita nu inseamna ca viata in casatorie este rusinoasa”8.

Cu toate acestea, dificultatile persista. Lasind deoparte extremele care condamna casatoria, sa ne punem problema intr-o maniera competenta. Ce inseamna ca fecioria este “mai slavita”? Poate fi desavirsirea in sensul ei deplin – rugaciune neincetata, contemplatie, vederea lui Dumnezeu – accesibila in aceasta viata si crestinului casatorit, care aduce pe lume copii si urmarese o cariera lumeasca obisnuita? Aici autoritatile duhovnicesti par sa se contrazica. Sf. Isaac Sirul si Sf. Teodor Studitul se indoiesc ca harul contemplatiei si al vederii lui Dumnezeu sunt posibile pentru cei care traiesc in lume9. Pe de alta parte, Sf. Grigorie cel Mare considera ca lumen contemplationis era accesibila tuturor, oricare ar fi optiunea lor in viata10. Sf. Maxim Marturisitorul isi rezuma citeva din cele mai adinci invataturi despre indumnezeire (Theosis) si unirea cu Dumnezeu in Epistola a 2-a adresata unui laic, slujitor imperial11, iar Sf. Grigorie Palama considera ca rugaciunea neincetata este posibila si pentru laici la fel ca si pentru calugari si ca deplina curatie a inimii poate fi dobindita de crestinul casatorit “chiar daca numai prin cele mai mari incercari”12. Toate cele cinci autoritati eclesiastice au fost monahi. Care dintre ei reprezinta cel mai just punct de vedere?

Pentru a raspunde partial acestei intrebari, sa ne intoarcem la Pateric. Aici, ca si in alte izvoare timpurii exista un gen de pilda relevant, in care unui monah i se dezvaluie ca un anume barbat sau femeie care traieste in lume ii este egal in sfintenie. Aprins de curiozitate, monahul merge de indata sa-l afle13. Ce fel de relatie intre oras si pustiu presupun aceste texte?

In afara intimplarilor specifice, sunt si comparatii generale in Pateric, cum ar fi cea care urmeaza: “Sezind odata Avva Siluan cu fratii, a cazut, intru uimire si a cazut cu fata la pamint. Si dupa putin sculindu-se, plingea. Si silindu-l sa le spuna, a zis: eu la judecata am vazut pe multi din neamul nostru mergind la munca si pe multi dintre mireni ca mergeau intru Imparatie…”14. Aceasta tema a calugarului condamnat la chinurile vesnice in timp ce mireanul intra in rai este un standard in literatura monastica. Oricit de superioara ar fi starea monahala, in ziua Judecatii calugarul nu va primi un tratament preferential si nici o garantie sigura a mintuirii. Dar relatarea despre Avva Siluan nu ne duce prea departe, pentru ca nu ne da nici un detaliu, nu ni se spune ce virtuti particulare preda mireanul incit sa fie preferat monahului. De aceea sa ne intoarcem la intimplarile in care sunt comparate persoane concrete.

„Eu nu am ajuns la aceasta virtute”

In cele mai multe dintre acestea, mireanul ramine anonim. Sa incepem totusi cu o intimplare – cu siguranta una din cele mai remarcabile – in care mireanului i se spune numele, iar calugarului nu. Se spune ca un calugar traia de patruzeci de ani in pustiul Iordanului. In tot acest timp el nu a intilnit alt om, ci a trait gol, alaturi de fiarele salbatice, ca pastor. Intr-o zi, intreaba pe Dumnezeu: “Arata-mi pe unul asemenea mie” si mare ii este mirarea, caci i se raspunde: “Pe imparatul Teodosie”. Auzind acestea, batrinul isi spune trist: “Mi-am petrecut toti acesti ani in pustiu, ars de fierbinteala zilei, gol in frigul noptii, fara sa vad chip omenesc. De patruzeci de ani nu am mincat piine, ci am flaminzit si am insetat, petrecindu-mi noptile sub cerul liber. Iar dupa atitea lipsuri si nevointe sunt pus deopotriva cu cineva care traieste in lume, are femeie si petrece in lux”.

Asa ca isi imbraca rasa si pleaca in Constantinopol. Teodosie il primi cu bunatate si cu respect pentru ca “era un mare prieten al calugarilor”. Batrinul il intreba pe imparat cu vietuieste. La inceput Teodosie este sovaielnic, marturisind ca este un om lumesc si un pacatos, fara sa se poata compara in vreun fel cu marii nevoitori Antonie, Macarie sau Pahomie. In cele din urma, Teodosie ii marturiseste: “Am imparatit treizeci si noua de ani si de treizeci de ani port o camasa de par sub purpura imperiala”. “Asta nu inseamna nimic”, spuse batrinul. “De treizeci si doi de ani”, continua imparatul, “nu m-am culcat alaturi de sotia mea, ci am trait in curatie”. “Asta nu-i nimic”, spuse iarasi batrinul. Apoi imparatul ii spuse cum posteste si nu se spala degraba. “Asta nu inseamna nimic”, zise din nou batrinul.

Dupa ce i-a dezvaluit tainele nevointelor sale, Teodosie ii arata cum face milostenie, cum ii ajuta pe cei nedreptatiti si ocroteste vaduvele si orfanii, cum cerceteaza in fiecare noapte strazile si inchisorile si da bani celor aflati in nevoi; cum spala ranile bolnavilor si madularele uscate ale slabanogilor cu miinile lui. “Toate acestea sunt bune si demne de admiratie”, spuse batrinul, “dar ele nu inseamna nimic in comparatie cu nevointele noastre”.

In sfirsit, imparatul ii arata cum in timpul curselor de pe hipodrom sta in loja sa imperiala, incoronat si invesmintat in purpura, copiind manuscrise fara sa dea atentie la cele ce se intimpla in jurul sau. Cind multimile il aclama si ii cinta laude, el nu ingaduie inimii sa se umple de mindrie, ci continua sa scrie fara sa-si ridice macar ochii. Batrinul este impresionat. “Fii binecuvintat, fiul meu!”, striga el. “Eu nu am ajuns la aceasta virtute. Dar roaga-te lui Dumnezeu pentru mine”. Teodosie cere si el binecuvintarea calugarului si pleaca.

Aratind marea cinstire a memoriei lui Teodosie in cercurile monahale, aceasta fascinanta relatare este neobisnuita in sens pozitiv, prin aprecierea sfinteniei monahale. In pofida implicarii lui in problemele lumesti si a splendorii ulterioare, un imparat crestin poate depasi viata pustniceasca in strasnica singuratate si saracie. Se arata ca asceza fizica poate fi practicata in taina de un mirean si cum unul ca acesta casatorit fiind, poate sa duca o viata de abstinenta sexuala; dar este important ca nici unul dintre aceste motive nu apare evidentiat in mod special. Povestirea arata, de asemenea si felul in care un mirean poate sluji lui Dumnezeu prin milostenie; dar nici acesta nu este motivul pentru care Teodosie este atit de generos laudat. El este preamarit nu pentru lepadarea de sine ori pentru slujirea celor saraci si slabi, ci pentru nepatimirea si smerenia lui. In mijlocul capcanelor slavei desarte, el a reusit sa-si pastreze launtric simplitatea inimii. Aceasta este cea mai importanta. Nu exista nici o sugestie in povestire ca Teodosie ar fi dobindit o sfintenie mai mare daca ar fi intrat in viata monahala.

Nu se spune nicaieri ca imparatul se roaga in vreme ce copiaza manuscrise in loja imperiala. Insa nu suntem departe de idealul mireanului care pastreaza amintirea neincetata a lui Dumnezeu, in timp ce este inconjurat de probleme lumesti. Pe hipodrom, Teodosie se aseamana “sfintilor lui Dumnezeu” la teatru, despre care Omiliile macariene spuneau: “Se intimpla uneori ca Sfintii lui Dumnezeu sa stea la treatru si sa priveasca la viclenia lumii; dar omul dinlauntrul lor vorbeste cu Dumnezeu, chiar daca omul de dinafara pare celorlalti ca priveste la cele ce se petrec in lume”.

Un mirean numit Euharist

Mai exista o relatare in Pateric in care mireanul este numit, iar monahul nu15, insa aici imaginea sfinteniei laice este mai putin pozitiva. Doi parinti ai desertului voiau sa stie la ce “masura” au ajuns si li s-a raspuns ca inca nu ajunsesera la masura unui mirean numit Euharist. Acesta era un pastor casatorit. Fiind intrebat despre viata lui, el spuse parintilor ca intotdeauna isi imparte cistigul in trei parti: una pentru saraci, una pentru primirea de straini si a treia parte pentru cele de trebuinta casei lui. Afara de aceasta, el le marturisi ca “de cind am luat pe femeia mea nu m-am spurcat nici eu, nici ea, ci fecioara este si fiecare dintre noi se culca separat”. Cei doi calugari se intoarsera in pustiu, dind in slava lui Dumnezeu.

Ca si in povestirea cu Teodosie, nu exista vreo sugestie ca Euharist va fi devenit monah. Dimpotriva, pilda apare in Pateric cu titlul “Despre un mirean numit Euharist”. Formele de evlavie laica pentru care este laudat Euharist – generozitatea, mai ales fata de saraci si abstinenta in casatorie – apare si in povestirea imparatului, insa acum accentul cade pe altceva. Cind Teodosie a mentionat aceste lucruri, batrinul nu le-a considerat importante, spunind: “Asta nu inseamna nimic”, insa in cazul lui Euharist ele reprezinta incununarea trairii lui duhovnicesti. Aici nu se spune nimic despre nepatimire sau launtrica reculegere, care in cazul lui Teodosie il impresionasera atit de mult pe batrin. Euharist, desi este mirean, nu a urmat vocatia deplina a crestinului casatorit, deoarece casatoria lui nu a fost niciodata consumata16. Poate de aceea cei doi parinti nu il indeamna sa devina calugar; nu este nevoie sa o faca, de vreme ce el duce deja o viata de calugar in taina. Comparatia cu istoria lui Teodosie, apoftegma din Pateric este mai putin sensibila in privinta posibilitatilor mireanului si mai putin subtila in intelegerea diversitatii vocatiilor crestine.

Nimeni nu trebuie dispretuit

Sa ne oprim insa si asupra unor relatari unde este mentionat numele monahului. Ele se refera la Avva Pafnutie, Avva Antonie si Avva Macarie Egipteanul. Povestirea despre Pafnutie se gaseste in Historia Monachorum in Aegypto. Dupa multi ani de asceza, el cere lui Dumnezeu sa-i arate caruia dintre sfinti i se aseamana cel mai mult in virtuti. Un inger ii spune ca este asemenea flautistului dintr-un oras apropiat. Mergind sa-l caute, gaseste un om care isi recunoaste deschis pacatosenia. El este betiv si un sot adulter si pina nu demult traise ca un tilhar. Pafnutie il intreba daca a facut vreodata ceva bun. Flautistul isi aminti cum, pe cind era inca tilhar, ajutase doua femei aflate in mare primejdie. Auzind acestea, Pafnutie ii spuse: “Nu stiu sa fi facut vreodata un fapt de virtute egal cu acesta”. Sa observam ca aici accentul cade pe faptele de virtute si pe trairea exterioara. Pafnutie nu afirma ca flautistul este superior lui in rugaciunea launtrica, ci numai in lucrarea din afara. Urmarea este importanta. Pafnutie il sfatuieste pe flautist sa nu-si uite de mintuire, iar acesta din urma il urmeaza in pustiu si devine calugar.

A doua oara, lui Pafnutie i se spune ca se aseamana cu un consilier municipal dintr-o asezare invecinata. Porneste indata sa-l intilneasca pe mirean si este primit cu ostilitate. Omul ii marturiseste ca este prea pacatos, fara sa merite a fi comparat macar cu monahii. Apoi ii mai spuse ca era casatorit de treizeci si trei de ani. In primii trei ani, sotia ii nascuse trei fii, iar de atunci traia cu sotia sa ca frate si sora. Printre faptele lui bune se numarau si ospitalitatea fata de cei straini, milostenia fata de saraci, impartialitatea in impartirea dreptatii, stradaniile de a-i impaca pe cei certati. (Ca si in povestirea despre Euharist, aici sunt evidentiate aceleasi doua lucruri ca virtuti ale mireanului: abstinenta in casatorie si generozitatea fata de cel sarac si slab.) Si de aceasta data Pafnutie ii arata necesitatea de a se calugari. “Acestea sunt virtuti excelente”, spuse el, “dar iti lipseste ceva – cea mai mare dintre toate virtutile, atotinteleapta cunoastere de Dumnezeu. Pe aceasta nu o poti dobindi fara greutate, daca nu renunti la cele lumesti, nu-ti iei Crucea si nu urmezi Mintuitorului”. Auzind acestea, omul l-a urmat de indata pe Pafnutie in pustiu, fara sa-si ia macar ramas bun de la familie. Observam ca Pafnutie spune “fara greutate”. Nu pretinde ca o “cunoastere a lui Dumnezeu” este absolut imposibila pentru cei care traiesc in lume, ci doar ca este mai accesibila calugarului.

Inca nesatisfacut, Pafnutie ii cere lui Dumnezeu pentru a treia oara sa-i arate cui se aseamana. De data aceasta el este trimis sa intilneasca un negustor din Alexandria, un om foarte bogat. Ajunge chiar in momentul cind acesta isi impartea averea saracilor si il previne ca nu mai are mult de trait. Il sfatuieste sa lase impartirea averii in seama altora si, atit cit mai era timp, sa se calugareasca. Ca si ceilalti doi, negustorul il insoteste pe Pafnutie in desert.

Talmacirea latina din Historiae Monachorum deduce morala:

“Nimeni in lumea aceasta nu trebuie dispretuit, fie ca este tilhar sau actor, ca lucreaza pamintul, ca este negustor sau ca este strind legat de lanturile casatoriei. Nu atit profesia noastra in viata, aparenta exterioara sau imbracamintea sunt placute lui Dumnezeu, cit sinceritatea, rugaciunea mintii noastre si cinstea faptelor noastre”17. Dar sa nu uitam ca toti cei trei mireni sunt indemnati sa se calugareasca. Asadar, “profesia noastra in viata” nu este lipsita de importanta! Oricit de mare ar fi virtutea la care au ajuns cei trei mireni – dupa cum arata povestirea lui Pafnutie – ei vor creste in sfintenie daca devin calugari. Din acest punct de vedere, naratiunea lui Pafnutie este cu certitudine mai putin generoasa decit cea a lui Teodosie. In inima lui, Euharist era deja monah, insa el nu a fost sfatuit sa-si realizeze aceasta vocatie. La fel, deschiderea cu care cei trei mireni accepta indemnul lui Pafnutie sugereaza ca ei erau calugari in inimile lor, fara sa-si dea seama de aceasta. Pafnutie nu a ramas satisfacut de aceasta vocatie ascunsa si a insistat ca ea sa fie exprimata vizibil si faptic.

Al doilea text din cele trei in care este mentionat numele monahului se refera la Sf. Macarie Egipteanu si la doua femei18. Pilda aceasta ne ajuta sa constientizam de cita atentie este nevoie atunci cind incercam sa tragem concluzii doctrinare sau morale din asemenea scrieri. In cea mai renumita versiune latina19, lui Macarie i se spune ca inca nu ajunsese la inaltimea duhovniceasca a doua femei dintr-un anume oras. Luindu-si toiagul, el se grabeste sa le gaseasca. Insa ele marturisesc ca nu exista nimic remarcabil in felul lor de viata: erau casatorite si traiau cu barbatii lor. La insistentele lui Macarie, ele ii spun ca erau “straine una de alta”, nefiind rude dupa trup, insa erau casatorite cu doi frati; “amindoua”, spuneau ele, “am trait in aceeasi casa in ultimii cincisprezece ani si nu stiu sa ne fi certat vreodata una cu alta si nici una din noi nu a spus vreun cuvint de ocara catre cealalta; am trait tot acest timp in pace si intelegere”. Amindoua doreau sa se calugareasca, dar sotii lor nu erau de acord. “Si cum nu am putut implini acest gind, am facut un legamint cu Dumnezeu ca pina la moarte nici o vorba lumeasca nu va iesi din gurile noastre”. Minunindu-se de acestea, Macarie exclama: “Cu adevarat, nu este deosebire intre feciorie si casatorie, nici intre calugarie si lume, caci Dumnezeu daruieste Duhul Sfint tuturor dupa nevoirea fiecaruia”20.

Binele este al fiecaruia

La o prima vedere, aflam aici o concluzie care bucura inima cititorului modern. Plenitudinea Sfintului Duh, asa cum pare sa afirme Macarie, este accesibila tuturor , fie calugar sau casatorit, in pustiu sau in oras.

Iar Sfintul Simeon Noul Teolog, scria:

“Multi au fericit viata pustniceasca, altii pe cea in obste sau in chinorie. Altii doresc sa stea in fruntea poporului, sa indemne, sa invete si sa ridice biserici, hranindu-se din acestea in chip felurit, trupeste si sufleteste. Eu nu as socoti pe nici una din acestea mai buna decit alta. Nici n-as spune ca una e vrednica de lauda, iar alta de ocara. Ci in toata privinta si in toate lucrurile si faptele, cu totul fericita este viata cea pentru Dumnezeu si dupa Dumnezeu”21.

Dupa o scriere apuseana din secolul XIV, Cartea celor saraci cu duhul, “binele este al fiecaruia si Dumnezeu ti-l daruieste in orice stare te-ai afla – numai sa il primesti”22. Important este care fiecare sa se deschida Duhului, sa duca la bun sfirsit propria vocatie pe care i-a incredintat-o Dumnezeu. Nici o vocatie nu este mai buna in sine decit alta; pentru fiecare om cea mai potrivita este aceea la care il cheama Dumnezeu in mod personal.

Dar sa ne ferim sa exageram interpretarea ultimelor cuvinte ale lui Macarie23. Si mai exacta este o alta versiune latina, in care Sf. Macarie spune: “Cu adevarat nu este nimeni cast sau casatorit, monah sau mirean, caci Dumnezeu cauta numai scopul fiecaruia (Deus tantum propositum quaerit) si daruieste Duhul vietii tuturor”24. In acest caz, remarca lui Macarie se refera la faptul ca cele doua femei doreau sa devina calugarite; dorinta lor nu s-a realizat datorita imprejurarilor independente de vointa lor, insa Dumnezeu le-a primit intentia ca pe un fapt implinit. Povestirea lui Macarie si a celor doua femei nu inseamna mai mult decit cele despre Euharist si Pafnutie: pentru a fi placut lui Dumnezeu, mireanul trebuie sa fie in inima lui un calugar.

In ultimul dintre cele trei texte care mentioneaza numele calugarului, apare Sfintul Antonie cel Mare si un tabacar25. Istorisirea incepe la fel. Lui Antonie i se spune ca inca nu a ajuns la masura unui tabacar din Alexandria, dupa care el se grabeste sa-l gaseasca si sa-l cerceteze. “Nu stiu sa fi fost vreodata ceva bun”, ii raspunde tabacarul. “Cind ma scol dimineata din patul meu, inainte de a ma aseza la lucru, spun: «Tot acest oras, de la mic la mare, va merge in Imparatia lui Dumnezeu pentru faptele cele bune, iar eu din cauza pacatelor mele voi merge la osinda vesnica»”. Seara isi repeta aceleasi cuvinte. Impresionat, Antonie a recunoscut ca dupa atitia ani de sihastrie inca nu ajunsese la aceasta “masura”. Asa se sfirseste intimplarea in versiunea latina. Insa intr-o versiune greaca26 apare o continuare interesanta. Aici monahul nu este numit, iar mireanul este un zarzavagiu, care ii spune celui dintii cuvintele pe care le spune in fiecare dimineata si seara, la fel ca in versiunea latina. Calugarul le apreciaza dar adauga ca nu este nimic in acestea care sa egaleze nevointele lui de atitia ani. Seara, pe cind cei doi stateau in coliba zarzavagiului, ei aud niste trecatori cintind. “Frate”, zise calugarul, “daca doresti sa traiesti o viata sfinta, cum poti ramine in acest loc? Nu te tulburi cind ii auzi cintind astfel?” Omul ii raspunse: “Avva, adevarul este ca niciodata nu m-am tulburat, nici nu am fost indignat”. “Dar ce gindesti in inima ta”, intreba calugarul, “cind auzi acestea?” Zarzavagiul raspunse: “Imi spun ca ei vor merge cu siguranta in Imparatia lui Dumnezeu”. Atunci calugarul a recunoscut uimit: “Inca nu am atins aceasta masura”.

Este acelasi punct de vedere ca in prima dintre povestirile noastre, cea despre imparatul Teodosie. Tabacarul/ zarzavagiul nu este indemnat sa se calugareasca si nu se spune nimic despre milostenie sau despre castitate in casatorie. Asemenea imparatului din loja hipodromului, mireanul din Alexandria este laudat pentru nepatimirea lui launtrica, pentru simplitatea si curatenia inimii lui. Omul care traieste in oras fara sa-i judece pe cei din jur, care isi spune mereu: “Toti se vor mintui, numai eu voi fi pedepsit”, este egal duhovniceste cu cei mai mari asceti ai pustiului. Cel care aude cintecele betivilor, fara sa fie ofensat si fara sa-i judece, este superior duhovniceste ascetului, cu toate rugaciunile, postirile si privegherile acestuia.

Detasarea zarzavagiului fata de cintecele betivilor aminteste de o intimplare din Limonariul lui Ioan Moshu. Un calugar batrin vede pe unul tinar intrind intr-o circiuma. Intristat, il asteapta afara ca sa-l intilneasca atunci cind va iesi. El ii arata primejdiile la care s-a expus: “Pentru ca intri fara teama in circiuma? Auzi ce nu vrei, vezi ce nu vrei si te intilnesti intr-un chip necuviincios cu femeile. Te rog nu mai fa asta, ci fugi in pustiu, unde poti sa te mintui, dupa cum vrei”. Tinarul calugar ii raspunse scurt: “Dumnezeu nu are nevoie decit de inima curata”. Auzind aceste cuvinte, batrinul a ridicat miinile spre cer si a spus: “Slava tie, Dumnezeule, cu sunt in schit de cincizeci de ani si n-am inima curata, iar acesta traind prin crisme a dobindit inima curata”27.

Dumnezeu priveste doar la sufletul omului

Din intimplarile pe care le-am analizat nu se deduc principii abstracte si teoretice referitoare la starea mireanului casatorit – intr-adevar, nu ne putem astepta sa gasim teorii intr-un izvor cum este Patericul -, insa in exemplele vii pe care ni le infatiseaza, ele ne arata clar ca este posibil ca un mirean sa fie egal duhovniceste sau superior unui mare pustnic sau ascet din pustiu. Valoarea proprie vocatiei monahale nu este negata nicaieri, insa se subliniaza ca Dumnezeu priveste la sufletul omului si nu la starea lui exterioara. Asa cum dovedeste apoftegma celor doi calugari din Limonariu, curatia launtrica este totdeauna posibila, oricare ar fi imprejurarile externe. Adevaratul zbor nu este geografic, ci duhovnicesc; advaratul pustiu este in inima. Este adevarat ca multe alte pilde tind sa contrazica aceasta concluzie. Uneori mireanului i se spune sa se calugareasca (ca in exemplul cu Pafnutie), pentru a ajunge la un nivel duhovnicesc care altfel ii este inaccesibil. Alteori accentul cade pe faptul ca mireanul, desi casatorit, traieste in castitate (ca in povestirile lui Euharist si Pafnutie si intr-o anumita masura a lui Teodosie) fiind pe dinafara “in lume”, iar in taina calugar. De asemenea, se poate ca mireanul sa doreasca sa devina calugar, dar sa fie impiedicat (ca in povestirea lui Macarie si a celor doua femei). Adesea apoftegmele atrag atentia asupra milosteniei mireanului (Euharist, Pafnutie), sugerindu-se ca in vreme ce mireanul are posibilitati de practicare a virtutilor exterioare, pe care monahul nu le are, el nu poate spera sa-l intreaca pe calugar in rugaciune si contemplatie.

In orice caz, doua dintre texte sunt mai adinci. Relatarile despre Teodosie si despre zarzavagiu dovedesc ca si crestinul de la oras, desi implicat in probleme lumesti, poate atinge un tip de sfintenie distinct – de nepatimire, smerenie si simplitate launtrica, care nu sunt accesibile in acelasi mod calugarului din pustiu. Chiar daca aceasta idee nu este dezvoltata, exista aici in stare latenta o teologie a vocatiei mireanului. Imparatul pe tronul din hipodrom, auzind osanalele multimii nu-si ridica totusi ochii de pe manuscrisele sale; zarzavagiul stind noaptea in coliba sa, aude cintecele betivilor si totusi se gindeste numai la mintuirea lor – iata doua dintre cele mai remarcabile imagini ale Patericului. Nu este usor sa le uiti.

 

Note:

1. Ascetic Homily, P.G. 85, col. 1857, 1858 (trad. rom. de pr.prof. D.Staniloae, in Filocalia romaneasca (F.R.), vol.4, ed. a II-a, Harisma, 1994, p.172).

2. F.Nan (ed.), Histories des solitaires égyptens, 250, in „Revue de l’Orient chrétien”, XIV (1909), p. 365.

3. Athanasius, Vita Antonii 2, P.G. 26, col. 841c (trad. rom. de. pr.prof. D.Staniloae, in PSB (Parinti si Scriitori bisericesti) 16, E.I.B.M.B.O.R., 1988, p. 192).

4. Apophtegmata Patrum, colectia alfabetica, Arsenius 1, P.G. 65, col. 88b (trad. rom. de Mitropolit Grigorie Dascalu, Patericul, ed.V, Episcopia Alba-Iulia, 1993, p. 14).

5. Vita Prima 37 (ed. Halkin, p. 23, l. 15-16)

6. Coll, XXI, 1-10 (trad. rom. de prof. David Popescu, in P.S.B. 57, 1990, p. 609-671).

7. Eustathius al Sevastei, de exemplu, a fost condamnat de Sinodul de la Gangra (c.341) pentru ca a sustinut asemenea opinii, insa probabil ca acuzatia a fost nedreapta. Vezi canoanele 1, 4, 9, 10 si 14 ale Sinodului (Héfelé-Leclerq, Histoires des Concilies, I, 2, Paris 1907, p. 1032-8). Cf. J.Gribomont, Le Monachisme au IVe s. en Asie Mineure: de Gangres au Messalianisme, in „Studia Patristica II”, p. 400-15, Berlin, 1957.

8. Orat. XL, 18, in P.G. 36, col. 381B.

9. Mystic Treaties by Isaac of Niniveh, tr. by A.J.Wensinck (Amsterdam, 1923), p. 102 (trad. rom. de pr.prof. D.Staniloae in F.R., vol.10, 1980); Sf.Teodor Studitul, Ep.II, 43, P.G. 99, col. 996A.

10. Hom. in Ezech, II, V, 19, P.L. 76, col. 996A.

11. P.G. 91, col. 391-408 (trad. rom. de pr.prof. D.Staniloae in P.S.B. 81, 1990, p. 27-38).

12. Encomium S.Gregorii Thessalonicensis, P.G. 151, col. 573B-574B; De passionibus et virtutibus, P.G. 150, col. 1056A.

13. Aceste povestiri apartin unei categorii mai generale (Streitnovellen), in care persoanele comparate cu monahul pot fi sau un alt ascet, sau un mirean; articolul de fata este interesat numai de a doua posibilitate. (…)

14. Apoph., colectia alfabetica, Siluan 2, P.G. 65, col. 408c (trad. rom., Patericul, p. 215).

15. Idem, Eucharistus, P.G. 65, col. 168D-169B (idem, p. 68); cf. The Paradise of Garden of the Holy Fathers, ed. E.A.Wallis Budge, London, 1907, vol. II, p. 149.

16. Pentru alte exemple de castitate in casatorie, vezi Paladius, Istoria Lausiaca 8 si Casian, Coll.XIV, 7.

17. Hist. Mon.16, P.L. 21, 439B.

18. Povestea exista in mai multe versiuni: a) latina: Vitae Patrum III, 97; VI, III, 17; P.L. 73, col. 778C, 1013D-1014B; b) copta: Apophtegmes sur Saint Macaire (ed. Amélineau, Histoire des Monastéres de la Basse-Egypte, p. 228-230); c) siriaca: Wallis Budge, The Paradise or Garden of the Holy Fathers, vol.II, p. 150-151. Textul grecesc dupa cite stiu, nu a fost inca publicat. El apare partial in Ms.Coislin 126, care nu a fost prins in editia neterminata a lui Nau si este inregistrat in § 489 din J.C. Guy, Recherches sur la tradition grecque des Apophtegmata Patrum, Bruxelles, 1962.

19. Vitae Patrum VI, III, 17. P.L. 73, col. 1013D-1014B.

20. P.L. 73, 1014B.

21. Theological and Practical Chapters, III, 65 (ed. Darrouzès, p. 100) (trad. rom. de pr.prof. D.Staniloae, in F.R., vol. 6, p. 82).

22. Fr.C.F.Kelly, London, 1954, p. 107.

23. Asa cum bine arata parintele Bruno de Jésus-Marie, Liminaire, in Mystique et continence ( Études carmélitaines, an 31, Bruges, 1952, p. 12).

24. P.L. 73, col. 778c. Aceeasi interpretare este data in versiunea siriaca, ed.W.Budges: “Cu adevarat, fecioria in sine nu este nimic, nici casatoria, nici viata de calugar, nici viata in lume; pentru ca Dumnezeu cauta la dorinta omului si da Duhul fiecarui om”. (The Paradise or Garden of the Holy Fathers, vol. II, p. 151).

25. Povestirea, la fel ca si in cazul lui Macarie si a celor doua femei, exista in mai multe versiuni: a) latina (…); b) siriaca: W.Budges, The Paradise, vol. II, p. 149-150: aici mireanul este un croitor si exista o aluzie la “milostenie si fapte bune”, care nu se gaseste in textul latin; c) greaca: Apoph., colectia alfabetica, Antonie 24, P.G. 65, 84B: aici mireanul este un doctor.

26. Nau, § 67.

27. Patrum Spirituale 194, P.G. 87, col. 3076c-3077A (trad. rom. de pr.prof.dr. T.Bodogae si D.Fecioru, Limonariu sau Livada duhovniceasca, Alba Iulia, 1991, p. 189).

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Pre-eminent Guardian and Glory of the Catholic Church

Număr de vizionări :6270

by Tonny-Leonard Farauanu

I shall be found keen in judgement, and in the sight of rulers I shall be admired. When I am silent they will wait for me, and when I speak they will give heed; and when I speak a greater length they will put their hands on their mouths. Through wisdom I shall have immortality, and leave an everlasting remembrance to those who come after me.
(Wisdom. 8: 11-13)

I. INTRODUCTION

Even a short analysis of the theology of the Catholic Church can prove how much the words quoted above describe Saint Thomas Aquinas. Among theologians he is by far the most authoritative voice, and his teaching is so much esteemed by the Church that Summa Theologiae, during the Council of Trent, was laid open on the altar together with the Holy Bible and the decrees of the Supreme Pontiffs. No other writings have ever received such a great honour.
In the present essay we will try to show the reasons for which Saint Thomas is so much esteemed in the Catholic Church. We will use four Encyclicals (Aeterni Patris of Pope Leo XIII, Pascendi Dominici Gregis of Pope Pius X, Studiorum Ducem of Pope Pius XI, and Fides et Ratio of Pope John Paul II), the Motu Proprio Doctoris Angelici of Pope Pius X and the Address[1] given by Pope John Paul II at the Angelicum in 1979. We divided our essay in five parts: after this short introduction (ch. I), we will speak about Saint Thomas as teacher of philosophy and theology (ch. II), followed by an analysis of his sanctity of life (ch. III). The fourth chapter will be concerned with the perpetual value of Saint Thomas’ doctrine, in relation with the development of philosophy and theology, and finally we will end with some conclusions.

II. SANCTUS THOMAS, MAGISTER PHILOSOPHIAE ET THEOLOGIAE

The Church, our holy Mother, understood from the very beginning her responsibility with respect to the diakonia of truth,[2] insofar as to her it was entrusted as to a bride the Truth Himself, Jesus Christ. Likewise, it is the Spirit of Truth who guides her and preserves her in the truth. On the other hand, it belongs to her sons, especially those who have been charged with the ministry of teaching and of preaching, to fathom the richness of her deposito fidei and to take part in her diakonia of truth. Saint Thomas Aquinas understood this great vocation and he fulfilled it more than any other son of the Catholic Church.
In the Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio, Pope John Paul II explains which are the two main aspects of this diakonia of truth: to take part into the humanity’s shared struggle to arrive at truth (1) and to proclaim the certitudes arrived at (2).[3] The first aspect is mainly concerned with philosophy, one of the noblest human sciences. The human reason has the power to attain through its natural power certain truths concerning the existing things and even concerning God’s being. The second aspect belongs mainly to theology, for the fullness of truth comes from God. There are many mysteries to which the human reason has no access through its natural powers, but it needs a revelation and the supernatural help of God. Thus, philosophy and theology are like two wings through which the human intellect attains the truth. Saint Thomas Aquinas proves himself to be a great teacher both of philosophy and theology, so that almost all subsequent researches were based upon his doctrine. The Church assumed almost entirely his teaching, and he could rightly be considered „the pre-eminent guardian and the glory of the Catholic Church.”[4] We should see now why is his doctrine so eminent and important for us. First, we will analyse Thomas’ philosophy, and then his theology.
As Pope Leo XIII says, there is no branch of philosophy which Saint Thomas did not treat with „as much acumen as thoroughness,” so that „there is nothing lacking in his teaching.”[5] He treated with logic, physics, metaphysics and ethics and he proved a high knowledge of his predecessors. More than that, he was able to unify in a wonderful way all true philosophical doctrines and to refute the wrong ones. He analyses all opinions concerning a particular subject and afterwards he points out to the true one, so that one may have a unitary knowledge of what was said and especially a clear understanding of what is true. His works are distinguished through „an appropriate disposition of parts, perfection of method, firmness of principle, cogency of argument, clarity of exposition, propriety of expression, and facility in the explanation of every abstruse point.”[6] He himself noted that „wisdom is primarily the perfection of reason and it is the characteristic of reason to know order” (Ethics, I, I). Thus, the wonderful order of his thoughts proves he possessed wisdom in a very high degree.
However, the most important aspect of Saint Thomas’ philosophy is that it is concerned with “what it is”, with the objective truth. He is not mainly interested in what did the others say about something, or in some appearances, but he wants to find the truth. He defends the capacity of the human reason to know truly the essence of things: for him all knowledge acquired through senses is true knowledge. In his commentary on Aristotle, he writes: „Philosophy is not studied in order to find out what people may have thought but in order to discover what is true.”[7] Thus his philosophy is characterised by realism and objectivity.
Another important aspect of Thomas’ philosophy is that it is a philosophy of being, of actus essendi. Pope John Paul II calls it „a philosophy of the proclamation of being, a chant in praise of what exists,”[8] and one can see here all the consequences of this doctrine: its objectivity. This has also a transcendental value, for it leads one’s mind to the contemplation of God, the subsisting Being and pure Act. Saint Thomas follows mainly Aristotle’ s Metaphysics in this respect, but his mind perfected by the gift of infused wisdom is able to see more than the Philosopher. In fact, as Pope Leo XIII says, „human reason soared to the loftiest heights on the wings of Thomas and can scarcely rise any higher.”[9]
We should turn now our attention to the theology of Saint Thomas. Like his philosophy, his teaching of sacred science is very systematic and comprehensive. Pope John XXII affirms that Thomas „enlightened the Church more than all the Doctors together” and that „a man can derive more profit in a year from his books than from pondering all his life the teaching of others.”[10] His main theological work, Summa Theologiae, was recommended to be used in „all Universities, Academies, Colleges, Seminaries and Institutions enjoying by apostolic indult the privilege of granting academic degrees.”[11] As a science of faith, Thomas’ theology springs from a humble assent of his intellect to the revealed truth, which is preserved in the Tradition of the Church. Likewise, as Cajetan observes, „because he had the utmost reverence for the Doctors of antiquity, seems to have inherited the intellect of all.”[12] Saint Thomas clearly distinguishes the natural and the supernatural order of knowledge, but he does not oppose reason to faith. By contrary, he linked each to the other in „a bond of friendly harmony,”[13] so that reason, as ancilla fidei, leads to intellectus fidei. It could be said that his theology is so clear and true because it is served by his eminent philosophy.
Looking more closely to Thomas’ theology itself, one can easily observe the richness of his interpretations of dogmas. He proves a deep penetration of mysteries, a great subtlety in expounding them, and a clear perception of their unity. As he himself says, his theology comes from the contemplation of the Crucified One, in whom all things are united. He treated also with ecclesiology, moral theology, asceticism, mysticism and exegesis. He excelled so much in all these that Pope Pius XI could say that „there is no branch of theology in which he did not exercise the incredible fecundity of his genius.”[14] Thus, the same Pope follows, he should be considered „the Prince of teachers in our schools, not so much on account of his philosophical system as because of his theological studies.”[15] Likewise, Pope Leo XIII goes so far as to say that Thomas „took part” and even „presided at the deliberations and the decrees of the Fathers at the Councils of Lyons, Vienne, Florence and the Vatican.”[16]
If the best philosopher is the one who „combines the pursuit of philosophy with dutiful obedience to the Christian faith,”[17] it could be said also that the best theologian is that one who uses the most excellent philosophy in the understanding of faith. Saint Thomas proves both a humble and pious submission to God, the First Truth, and an excellent use of reason and of acquired sciences so that „his doctrine exceeds all others, with the exception of canon law, in propriety of expression, precision of definition and truth of statement.”[18] All the saints posterior to Saint Thomas enjoyed his harmonious, prudent and firm doctrine, and there are even religious orders, other than the Dominicans, of which particular theological emphasis rests upon his teaching.[19] He should therefore be called not only the Angelic, but also the Common or Universal Doctor [Doctor Communis] of the Church.[20] We conclude this chapter with the wonderful words of Pope Leo XIII:
Saint Thomas sat enthroned, like a prince in his kingdom, in all those great houses of human wisdom and the minds of all, even the Doctors, reposed with marvellous unanimity upon the teaching and authority of the one Angelic Doctor.[21]

III. “PER ARDOREM CARITASTIS DATUR COGNITIO VERITATIS”

Apart from his natural heritage and his assiduous work, what explains the character of Saint Thomas’ doctrine is his sanctity of life. The divine truths are understood through an infused wisdom, which makes one believing somehow connatural with them. „Per ardorem caritatis datur cognitio veritatis”[22] (The knowledge of what is true is given by the fervour of love) – this is the principle that can explain such a deep understanding of divine mysteries. In fact, he himself said that he never wrote anything without having had firstly recourse to prayer and that all his knowledge was nor acquired by his study and diligence, but it was received from God.[23] It is said that sometimes even the Prince of the Apostles was sent to instruct him.
It could be said about Thomas that the practice of virtues disposed him to the contemplation of truth, and the profound consideration of truth in turn gave lustre and perfection to his virtues.[24] It is said also that „he possessed all the moral virtues to a very high degree and so closely bounded together that they formed one whole in charity.”[25] He was known for his humility, exercised in the obedience of all brothers, in his self-effacement, in his refutation of human glory and even of the ecclesiastical honours.[26] Likewise, his chastity is famous, since the angels surrounded him with a mystic girdle. He was very much devoted to prayer and fasting, spending whole nights before the Tabernacle and searching his knowledge in the true Book, Jesus Crucified. He said the Holy Mass daily and he used to hear another Mass said by his socius or some friar as well, and in his conversation he never spoke but about God or with God. Moreover, his devotion to the Eucharist is well-known from his beautiful prayers and hymns, which are sung even in our days because of their profound theological content. Thus he could be rightly called “the poet and the panegyrist of the Divine Eucharist,”[27] or even “Doctor of the Eucharist.”[28]
In his daily life he loved his brothers, helping them in their labours, he deprived himself of his own garments to give them to the poor and even miracles happened because of his intercession. His unselfish love and purity of heart could be observed from his answer to the Lord Himself, when in an apparition He asked Thomas what reward he would like to have for all his labour. Thomas’ answer was firm: „None but Thyself, o Lord!”
It is clear therefore that his mind was well-disposed to the contemplation of truth not only by his deep knowledge of philosophy, but also by his solid virtues.

IV. PERENNIS VERITAS, PERENNIS DOCTRINA

After having seen the major characteristics of Saint Thomas’ doctrine and life, we should consider the perennial value of his teaching and of his example. We have described his philosophy as a „philosophy of being” and of „what it is”. Consequently, it has a spirit of „openness to the whole of reality in all its parts and dimensions, without either reducing reality or confining thought to particular forms or aspects (and without turning singular aspects into absolutes).”[29] Thus, Thomas’ philosophy is universally valuable, for it is concerned „with what is true”, and the truth never changes. That is why scholastic philosophy, particularly that of Saint Thomas, was ordained to constitute the basis of the sacred studies.[30] In fact, as Pope Pius X says, „to deviate from Aquinas, in metaphysics especially, is to run grave risk.”[31] On the other hand, „those who have once grasped it [Thomas’ doctrine] are never found to have deviated far from the path of truth, and anyone impugning it has always been held suspect of error.”[32] The orthodoxy of Saint Thomas doctrine is due in great part to his intellectual humility and to the total submission of his mind to God, the First Truth, and to the teaching of the Church. It is this humility that lacks so much in all those who went astray from the truth. Likewise, the first fruit of this humility is the virtue of prudence. When reading any of Saint Thomas’ works, this prudence clearly shines out and moderates the disordered intellects in their blind and superficial movement. That is why the heretics have a particular aversion to Saint Thomas’ writings.
However, to remain faithful to scholastic philosophy and theology does not mean to reject any progress in these fields. But the scholastic teaching is a stable foundation upon which one can continue to build. Those persons who preferred to build anew rather than to augment and perfect the old by the new are in great danger and they depart from the truth. In fact, many leaders of heretical factions have declared that, if the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas were once disposed of, they could easily „engage in the contest with and vanquish all the Catholic Doctors.”[33] Thus it is easy to understand the attitude of the Magisterium of the Church when it ordains firmly that the philosophy and theology of Saint Thomas should be taught in all Catholic schools as a basis of all sacred sciences. With other words, perennis veritas – perennis doctrina.

V. CONCLUSION

Having witnessed the great unity between the teaching of the Church and the teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas, one can conclude with the words of Pope Pius XI, who declared that „in honouring Saint Thomas something greater is involved than the reputation of Saint Thomas, and that is the authority of the teaching Church.”[34] On the other hand, Saint Thomas is a great model for all those who received the call to teach and preach in the Church. „How beneficial” – exclaims Pope John Paul II – „it would be for the Church of God if also today all Catholic philosophers and theologians followed the wonderful example of the Doctor communis Ecclesiae!”[35] We live in a difficult time, when so many erroneous doctrines, sometimes issued even from the sons of the Church, make dangerous our path towards the truth, and therefore towards life as well. It is a time when the spiritual food is poisoned and the truth perverted. That is why today, as in the time of famine in Egypt when people were sent to Joseph, the Church says: „Go to Thomas, and ask him to give you from his ample store the food of substantial doctrine wherewith to nourish your souls unto eternal life.”[36]

________________________________________
[1] John Paul II, „Perennial Philosophy of S. Thomas for the Youth of Our Times”, apud Ronda Chervin and Eugene Kevane, Love of Wisdom – An Introduction to Christian Philosophy (San Francisco, Ignatius Press), pp. 493-500.
[2] Vide Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Fides et Ratio, introduction.
[3] Ibidem.
[4] Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Aeterni Patris.
[5] Ibidem.
[6] Ibidem.
[7] Saint Thomas Aquinas, De Coelo et Mundo, I, lect. 32, ed. R. Spiazzi, no. 228, apud Pope John Paul II, Perennial Philosophy of Saint Thomas for the Youth of our Times (vide note 1), p. 499.
[8] Ibidem, p. 497.
[9] Leo XIII, op. cit., pp. 205-06.
[10] Apud Pope Pius X, Doctoris Angelici.
[11] Ibidem, p. 220.
[12] Apud Pope Leo XIII, op. cit.
[13] Vide Pope John Paul II, Perennial Philosophy . . . , p. 494.
[14] Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Studiorum Ducem.
[15] Ibidem.
[16] Pope Leo XIII, op. cit..
[17] Ibidem, p. 198.
[18] Ibidem, p. 207.
[19] Ex.: the Benedictines, Carmelites, Augustinians and the Society of Jesus. Vide Pope Leo XIII, op. cit..
[20] Vide Pope Pius XI, op. cit..
[21] Pope Leo XIII, op. cit..
[22] Saint Thomas, In John, V, 6, apud Pope John Paul II, Perennial Philosophy . . . , p. 500.
[23] Pope Leo XIII, op. cit..
[24] Pope Pius XI, op. cit..
[25] Ibidem.
[26] Vide ibidem.
[27] Ibidem.
[28] Ibidem.
[29] Pope John Paul II, Perennial Philosophy . . . , p. 497.
[30] Vide Pope Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, (Boston: Pauline), p. 57.
[31] Ibidem.
[32] Pope Leo XIII, op. cit..
[33] Theodore Beza and Martin Bucer, apud Pope Leo XIII, op. cit..
[34] Pope Pius XI, on the occasion of the sixth centenary of the canonisation of Saint Thomas, apud. Pope John Paul II, Perennial Philosophy . . . , p. 499.
[35] Pope John Paul II, Perennial Philosophy . . . , p. 495.
[36] Pope Pius XI, Studiorum Ducem, loc. cit..

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Miracol euharistic studiat

Număr de vizionări :2349

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)

Hristos a inviat!

Număr de vizionări :1241

Hristos a înviat din morţi
Cu moartea pe moarte călcând
Şi celor din morminte
Viaţă dăruindu-le!
Şi nouă ne-a dăruit viaţa cea veşnică
Să ne închinăm sfintei învierii Lui celei de a treia zi!

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

The Divine Will and the Human Will of Jesus Christ

Număr de vizionări :1457

The Divine Will and the Human Will of Jesus Christ

The answer of St. Maximus the Confessor and St. Thomas Aquinas
to Monothelitism

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Pagini: 1 2 3 4 Next
1 vizitatori online acum
1 vizitatori, 0 boți, 0 membri
Numar maxim de vizitatori astazi: 2 la 08:56 am UTC
Luna aceasta: 9 la 09-06-2017 09:34 am UTC
Anul acesta: 11 la 01-05-2017 02:11 pm UTC
Tot timpul: 58 la 10-02-2015 12:10 pm UTC