Friday, 21 February 2014

Sparklings of the Divine Light

The Pantheon in Rome, now the Church of All Saints.
"The door of the human being is the spiracle* of life through which we spirate and breathe the Divine Being, eternal light and life. Now what is an opening if not a hole, an interruption of closure. In other words, ‘in’ this hole of the human being, which is the spiracle of Genesis, the human being ceases; it is interrupted. But there where man ceases God begins. Man is enclosed in his own nature as in a carapace (and this also includes, in a certain way, all of creation). Beyond this carapace suddenly begins the ocean of Divine Light. God pierces a hole in this carapace that is immediately invaded by Divine Light. Insofar as this light comes from elsewhere, it is Divine; insofar as it wholly occupies the place of the orifice, it is part of human nature. 

From this point of view there is profound analogy between microcosm and macrocosm, as is sometimes represented by medieval iconography: the stars are not so much luminous bodies fixed to the celestial vault, as openings in the firmament through which the sparklings of the Divine Light is [sic] glimpsed. Once we know what a close relationship there is, for Plato and Aristotle, between the stars and the essences of the intelligible world, this analogy is seen in all its profundity. Are Plato’s essences intelligible ‘things’? In a certain sense, yes. But, in another, they are holes in the sensory cosmos which, by their very notchings, delineate or cut out distinct luminous unities in that ocean of infinite light that is Divine Reality; how else could we withstand its brightness?

"To conclude let us add that, if the immutable essences are macrocosmic doorways to the divine, if neshamah is the microcosmic doorway, the Most Holy Virgin is its spiritual doorway, the Janua Coeli, which makes of her ‘the Mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope’ (Eccles. 24:24). Yes, spiritual intelligence comes into us through the doorway of Heaven."

"Spiracle" = "breathing hole.
The text is from Jean Borella, The Secret of the Christian Way, ed. and trans. G. John Champoux (SUNY Press, 2001), p. 110. See also Borella's Sense of the Supernatural, which I was proud to publish at T&T Clark some years ago. Secret of the Christian Way is included in my list of DESERT ISLAND BOOKS (i.e. indispensable metaphysics and theology) which you can find below.
Priest-Monk Silouan, Wisdom Songs;  Wisdom, Prophecy, and Prayer;  Wisdom and Wonder;  Wisdom, Glory, and the Name.   Staniloe, Orthodox Spirituality.   Dionysius the Areopagite, The Divine Names;  Mystical Theology and the Celestial Hierarchies.    Philokalia, Vol. 2.    Jean Borella, The Secret of the Christian Way.    The Early Kabbalah (Classics of Western Spirituality).    Zohar (Classics of Western Spirituality).    Michael Lewis, Hallowed Be Thy Name.    Paul Evdokimov, Woman and Salvation.    Henri de Lubac, The Discovery of God.    Valentin Tomberg, The Covenant of the Heart.    Wolfgang Smith, Christian Gnosis.    C.F. Kelley, Meister Eckhart on Divine Knowledge.    James Mensch, The Beginning of the Gospel According to John.    Pavel Florensky, The Pillar and Ground of the Truth.    Anon., Meditations on the Tarot.    Hieromonk Damascene, Christ the Eternal Tao.    Giovani Reale, Toward a New Interpretation of Plato.    Leo Schaya, The Universal Meaning of the Kabbalah.    Clement, The Roots of Christian Mysticism.    Bonaventure, Collected Works, Vol. 2, Itinerarium Mentis in Deum.    Edith Stein, Finite and Eternal Being.    (Aquinas- and Balthasar-related titles are not included.)

The books I have written include the following. I hope you like them.

1 comment:

  1. This is a most wonderful and beautiful blog site.

    Thank you so very much for the many riches you share with unknown people. It is appreciated, although one finds it hard to comment because the comments may seem like platitudes. The gratitude though is heartfelt!