Saturday, April 12, 2014

"A piece of bread, a simple gesture, a few well-chosen words"

     "From the ethological point of view, 'ritual' actions (in J. Huxley's sense of the word) are adaptive formalizations of behavior favoring an economy of energy.  One finds this trait also in anthropology:  rituality functions in an economical manner.  Of course, there is often a profusion of means (multiple objects, formulas endlessly repeated), but it is a profusion of small means [(petits moyens)]:  through metaphor the victims' blood sprinkled upon the people and the altar becomes the pledge of the covenant with God; through metonymy the entire earth is represented by a few of its fruits.
     "In the same way, it is the small amount of [(le peu de)] bread or water that is the condition for the operation of the Eucharistic or baptismal symbolism.  On the condition, of course, that this 'small amount' be not 'too small,' that is, that it constitute a support sufficient for the symbolism to function.  The drift of the symbol toward insignificance has played a bad joke on us in the liturgy.  However, it is not through a plentiful feast that one will most successfully symbolize the paschal banquet to which Christ invites his people or by mad gambols in a large swimming pool that one will live sacramentally death and resurrection with him.  A piece of bread, a simple gesture, a few well-chosen words [(d'un peu de pain, d'un geste sobre, d'parole d'une parole dûment réglée)] are all that are necessary.  In this way rite protects itself by its spareness [(sobriété)] against the invasion of a romantic subjectivity desperate for 'spontaneous-and-total-expression.'  In some way it restores 'availability' to the self.  Kept in check by ritual ascesis, the self can be made available for the welcome of the Other, and indeed of what the Other wishes to bestow upon it.
     "This economy of means is theologically a powerful symbolic representation of the eschatological not yet of the reign, nevertheless already inaugurated in the Church.  Against every species of eschatological impatience, the rite serves to defend us against the ever-recurring dream of a reign without the Church.  Its modest discretion protects us from believing we have reached it.  Rather, it directs us towards this sense of humor that is the cardinal virtue through which believers adjust themselves to the patience of God."

     Louis Marie Chauvet, Symbol and sacrament:  a sacramental reinterpretation of Christian existence III.9.ii.3 ("A symbolic economy of spareness [(sobriété)]"), trans. Patrick Madigan, S.J., and Madeleine Beaumont (Collegeville, MN:  A Pueblo Book, The Liturgical Press, 1995 [1987]), 346-347; Symbole et sacrement:  une relecture sacramentelle de l'existence chrétienne (Paris:  Les Éditions du Cerf, 1987), 354-355.
     On pp. 31-32 of his article "La théologie sacramentaire est-elle an-esthésique?" (La Maison-Dieu no. 188 (1991):  7-39), Chauvet, following J. Y. Hameline, adds to sobriété, tarditas, the insistence of the liturgy on "hastening slowly".

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"The cross of Christ is the only instruction in the Word of God there is, the purest theology."

"Crux Christi unica est eruditio verborum dei, theologia sincerissima" (AWA 2, below).
"Crux Christi unica est eruditio verborum dei, Theologia syncerissma" (WA 5, below).
"Crux Christi unica est eruditio verborum Dei, theologia sincerissima" (E ex XIV, 330).

The cross of Christ is the only (acquired) knowledge of the words of God there is, the purest theology.

     Martin Luther, Operationes in Psalmos (1519-1521), at Ps 6:11 (Operationes in Psalmos, 1519-1521, Teil II:  Psalm 1 bis 10 (Vulgata), ed. Gerhard Hammer and Manfred Biersack, Archiv zur Weimarer Ausgabe der Werke Martin Luthers, Texte und Untersuchungen, Bd 2 (Köln and Wien:  Böhlau Verlag, 1981), 389, ll. 15-16; WA 5, 217, ll. 2-3; E ex XIV, 330), as translated by Robert Kolb (“Luther on the theology of the cross,” chap. 1 in The pastoral Luther: essays on Martin Luther’s practical theology, ed. Timothy J. Wengert (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009), 34 (33-56); Martin Luther:  confessor of the faith (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2009), 58).  Luther's commentary on the first twenty-two Psalms, based on Dr. Henry Cole's translation from the original Latin.  Revised, enlarged, parts retranslated and edited in complete form by John Nicholas Lenker, D.D., Standard edition of Luther's Works (Sunbury, PA:  Lutherans in All Lands Co., 1903), 361:

“The cross of Christ is the only way of instruction in the Word of God, and the only true theology."

     I was put onto that sentence by Dr. Kerry Dearborn.  Cf. "The CROSS alone is our Theology":
"CRUX sola est nostra Theologia" (WA 5, 176). 
"Crux sola est nostra theologia" (E ex XIV, 261).
Operationes in Psalmos, at Ps 5:12.

     AWA 2 cites also, in this connection, the Duo sermones de passio Christi (1518, WA 1, 341, ll. 37-40, scheduled for translation in vol. 3 (?) of the New series of the American edition of Luther's Works):
Nam incarnatio et passio Christi, licet ad omnem affectum et intellectus eruditionem nobis commendentur inspicienda, maxime tamen ad caritatem Dei inspiciendam cognoscendamque erga nos per Scripturam nobis exhibentur contemplanda.
AWA 2 references also, on the "theologia sincerissima", "L-Vorrede, o 7, Anm 61."

"No priestly pride has ever exceeded that of sacerdotal females."

"'it is safer to run no such risk.  No priestly pride has ever exceeded that of sacerdotal females.  A very lowly curate I might, perhaps, essay to rule; but a curatess would be sure to get the better of me.'"

     Mr. Arabin, in Anthony Trollope, Barchester towers (1857), chap. 21 ("St. Ewold's parsonage").
     The earliest citation for "priest's or clergyman's wife" in the OED is 1709, as compared with 1656 for "female priest".  (This passage is the OED's first citation for "curatess", however.)
     But of course the humor in this lies in the fact that Mr. Arabin later falls for Eleanor.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"it was never heard that an angel showed reverence to a man until he saluted the blessed virgin, saying reverently, 'Hail'."

"Quod autem Angelus faceret homini reverentiam, nunquam fuit auditum, nisi postquam salutavit beatam virginem, reverenter dicens, ave."

     St. Thomas Aquinas, Expositio salutationis angelicae =Super Ave Maria (1273), a. 1, trans. Ralph McInerny (Thomas Aquinas: selected writings, ed. & trans. Ralph McInerny (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1998), 823).

Sunday, April 6, 2014

"'No, no, smile, frown. . . . Yes, yes, no, Cancun, deep-sea diving, upscale resort, breakaway weekend, January, January, meh, three, two, smile, smile, meh, yes, Prada, Converse, no, frown, frown, smile, Paris.'"

     A Circle newbie, "typing furiously, fluidly, almost silently," in Dave Eggers' The circle:  a novel (New York:  Alfred A. Knopf; San Francisco:  McSweeney's Books, 2013), 440.

"that new creature borne without her dew, / Full of the makers guile"

    Edmund Spenser, Faerie queene I.i.46, ll. 6-7.
     What an image of contemporary pornography and sexploitation!  The Lord, her Maker true, is a God in whom there is no guile.