Saturday, July 25, 2009

Riches (and Caldecott) on Western pneumatology and the filioque

"Is Jenson correct to suggest that Barth's binitarianism results from an inherent Western trinitarian deficiency? Do the filioque and the vinculum amoris necessarily lead to a mere modus? David Hart, from an Orthodox perspective, and Joseph Ratzinger, from a Catholic perspective, have commonly shown the depth of the personal reality of the Spirit according to the Western/Augustinian theology of the Spirit as the ineffabilis quidam complexus of Father and Son. Defending the Augustinian view, they have identified 'communio' itself as the crucial, personal mode of the Spirit, just as sonship and paternity are respectively the personal modes of the second and first persons. . . . From this, one can perhaps go further, arguing that the fully personal nature of the Spirit is most perfectly secured by the filioque--as, for example, Stratford Caldecott has argued in the context of a defense of Meister Eckhart's trinitarianism. Caldecott suggests that the Holy Spirit is only distinguished from the Father and Son by virtue of his 'dual origin': 'the filioque tradition permits us to distinguish the Persons purely as relations within the Trinity. The Orthodox allege that this undermines our sense of the Father as the sole principle of the Trinity. The Latins might reply that by rejecting the filioque the East reduces the distinctive 'spiration' of the Spirit to no more than another 'coming forth' from the Father. Some theologians have suggested that the dispute could be solved by agreeing to speak of the Spirit proceeding from the Father 'through' the Son. But this also has a disadvantage: it presents the Son as a mere way-station or tunnel. The metaphor of 'giving,' as distinct from 'generating' or 'proceeding,' helps us remember that God is no impersonal substance but only and forever personal. But then, if the Son is truly to be the image of his Father, he must also be a giver in his own right, and not just a transmitter of the Father's gift to himself. . . . The Father remains the sole principle, because the Son has nothing he has not received from this source. But the Trinity is asymmetrical reciprocity, not a symmetrical hierarchy proceeding from the Father. Its asymmetry is precisely the root of its dynamism as eternal Act, eternal perichoresis'".

Aaron Riches, "Church, Eucharist and predestination in Barth and De Lubac: convergence and divergence in communio," Communio: international Catholic review 35, no. 4 (Winter 2008): 574n34.

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).

Torrell on Aquinas on the Holy Spirit

"A simple reading of the texts suffices to destroy the myth that [(légende selon laquelle)] our Western theology would not speak [(parlerait)] of the Holy Spirit. The opposite is true of Thomas, from whom we inherit an embarrassment of riches [(Avec Thomas au contraire nous n'avons que l'embarras du choix)]."

Jean-Pierre Torrell, O.P., "Saint Thomas d'Aquin, maître de vie spirituelle," Revue des sciences religieuses 71, no. 4 (1997): 445. I'm not quite sure what to do with that conditional (parlerait).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A gift beyond all earthly knowing

"Now she comes to him again. He can see her again: a bride, dressed all in white, as innocent as himself of the great power they were putting on, frightened and smiling--a gift to him such as he did not know, such as would not be known until the death that they would promise to meet together had been met, and so perhaps never to be known in this world."

Wendell Berry, Remembering (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1988), 113.