Monday, 27 May 2013

Trinity in man

In church yesterday for Trinity Sunday, we saw a bright beam of light from a high window shining over the congregation, a bit like the image on my previous post. A metaphor for the Trinity, of course – if the church represents the world, then the Sun is the Father, the Window is the Son (who shows us the Father), and the Light is the Holy Spirit – the light of grace that comes into the world from the Father through the Son.

In my book Radiance of Being I write about "tripartite anthropology" or the idea of Trinitarian Man in the chapter on Nature and Grace. David Clayton summarizes some of this in his own exposition here. There are several ways of seeing the divine Trinity as it were reflected in the constitution of man, beginning with St Paul and St Augustine. Thomists sometimes object, preferring the dualism of body plus soul to the dualism of soul plus spirit, but it is easy to reconcile the two traditions by regarding the spirit as simply the inner face of the soul – the face it turns towards God.

In his fine book On Liturgical Asceticism, David Fagerberg explains that Christianity inherited the concept of soul as the animating force of a body (animals have souls) from the Greek tradition, and the concept of spirit as the immortal intellectual principle that knows God from the Hebrew. In man, unlike the angels, the spirit functions as the form of the material organism – so we can say either that the soul is the spirit functioning as animating form, or that the spirit is the soul functioning as intellectual principle.

When the body dies, the presence of the soul is withdrawn, and so the soul withdraws into the spirit. This is the same as the confrontation with God – the removal of the veil between creature and Creator. This is also the Judgment, because time is one of those veils now removed, and all our actions in life are seen at once, and their meaning revealed. All that is not compatible with the love of God will be burned away. And when the new body, the new earth, and the new heavens are created (Rev. 21:1), the body will express the spirit (1 Cor. 15:35-57) – instead of somewhat obscuring it, as it does in this life. The Holy Spirit will then shine through it like sunlight through a clear window.

Photo by Lawrence Lew OP.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Gift of the Spirit

In honour of Pentecost, here is a taste of John Paul II's encyclical on the Holy Spirit, Dominum et Vivificantem.
34. "The Spirit of God," who according to the biblical description of creation "was moving over the face of the water,"signifies the same "Spirit who searches the depths of God"; searches the depths of the Father and of the Word-Son in the mystery of creation. Not only is he the direct witness of their mutual love from which creation derives, but he himself is this love.
He himself, as love, is the eternal uncreated gift. In him is the source and the beginning of every giving of gifts to creatures. The witness concerning the beginning, which we find in the whole of Revelation, beginning with the Book of Genesis, is unanimous on this point. To create means to call into existence from nothing: therefore, to create means to give existence. And if the visible world is created for man, therefore the world is given to man.
And at the same time that same man in his own humanity receives as a gift a special "image and likeness" to God. This means not only rationality and freedom as constitutive properties of human nature, but also, from the very beginning, the capacity of having a personal relationship with God, as "I" and "you," and therefore the capacity of having a covenant, which will take place in God's salvific communication with man.
Against the background of the "image and likeness" of God, "the gift of the Spirit" ultimately means a call to friendship, in which the transcendent "depths of God" become in some way opened to participation on the part of man. The Second Vatican Council teaches: "The invisible God out of the abundance of his love speaks to men as friends and lives among them, so that he may invite and take them into fellowship with himself."

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Radiance of Being

The Radiance of Being is about Christian cosmology. It is both a reflection on nature (the nature of the world, of God, and of humanity) and a search for Sophia, divine Wisdom. Reconnecting the natural sciences to theology by way of metaphysics, it explores the relationship between different religious traditions, and ventures some conclusions on the meaning of our existence. In his Foreword, Adrian Walker summarizes it as follows: "Being is radiant because it is a gift, not only from the Trinity, but also within the Trinity itself. In its Infinite Source, in the fathomless abyss of Deity, being is already always one with (triune) love." There are recommendations from Catherine Pickstock, John Milbank, Wolfgang Smith, and Conor Cunningham, as well as David L. Schindler and Tracey Rowland. I very much doubt the book lives up to them, but I hope you will enjoy it anyway. It is available now on Amazon US and Amazon UK, and there is also a dedicated Facebook page.

Here is a list of the Contents:
Let There Be Light —A Science of the Real — Vertical Evolution —Being Alive —Saving the Planet
One in Three —The Mystery of Islam — Aspects of Buddhism —Non-Dualism — Divine Knowledge —Creator
Nature and Grace —God in Man, Man in God —Time, Eternity, Hell —Visions of Sophia

My other books are listed here. Some unusual aspects of the book are discussed here.