Saturday, July 25, 2009

Healy on the natural desire for the beatific vision

"the deepest desire of nature is precisely the renunciation of anything like a claim or a demand in the first place; it is a holding-oneself-in-readiness so that God may be God."

Nicholas J. Healy, "Henri de Lubac on nature and grace: a note on some recent contributions to the debate," Communio: international Catholic review 35, no. 4 (Winter 2008): 547. "our natural desire for God entails a renunciation both of self-sufficiency and of demand" (548). "the perfection or consistency of the natural end in its own order--and, indeed, this very 'order' itself--is indeed relative, or relationally constituted, from top to bottom. In other words, the very (relative) closure of nature in its own order is itself a deeper, pervasive openness to God; the autonomy of nature is creaturely dependence on the Creator. This openness and dependence is, of course, first of all a feature of creatureliness and so is not immediately a matter of grace. Nevertheless, its role in constituting the relative perfection of nature in its own order (and the entire natural order itself) helps us understand how this very perfection can be a disponibility, an active readiness for God--one whose innate character is fully revealed precisely when this readiness is 'mobilized' in the Son's assumption of human nature from the 'Yes' of his immaculate Mother. The real bone of contention, then, between Lubacians and Neo-Thomists is not whether or not there is a relative integrity to nature, but whether or not (at least in the present economy) nature itself is best understood in the light of Mary's immaculate divine motherhood and the filial existence of the Son. Our 'Yes' or 'No' to this question pertains not only to theology, but lays bare the philosophical presuppositions about the nature of nature--and the relevance to it of creation as gift--that we bring to the debate about nature and grace" (562-563). "Christ reveals the nature of nature as receptive readiness for a surpassing gift" (564).

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