Thursday, July 24
Architecture Learning From Nature,
from Marc-Antoine Laugier's Essaie sur l’Architecture, 1753
Towards an Incarnational Architecture, Part IV:
The Redemption of Creation
What does it mean that Christ redeemed all creation? We have seen already that it was indeed very good at its onset, but what does it mean to say that creation fell and was redeemed, and why was it redeemed along with humanity? Adrienne von Speyr tells us that the world was created in Christ and for Christ, and therefore, it was right that it should be redeemed in and by him Him. In Christ, "all things hold together," said St. Paul (Colossians 1:17), a statement which has peculiar resonance today if one is familiar with the realm of subatomic particles and nuclear physics, where virtually nothing seems to hold together on its own. Von Speyr, in her commentary on Colossians, continues, remarking that before all time, the Father "modeled His world after Him [Christ], since the Son's breadth, His divine essence, is before all things…and the fruitfulness that is enfolded in the world [now, after the Resurrection] is that of continuance in the Son" (Der Kolosserbrief, 33).
Now, even more than in the day when Bezalel built the Tabernacle and adorned it with images of God's creation, we can find pleasure, inspiration and sursumactivity in the world. Before the fall she bore some "trace of the Trinity," as St. Augustine put it (also found in Summa, I.xciii.6), and now, with the eyes of the redeemed Christ we may be able to see that all is indeed "very good." My friend Andy put it thus: after the Original Sin this [creation's sursumactivity] was not possible as God intended, and perhaps in a sense Creation was rendered somewhat impotent--by considering it, man could not drawn deeper into God's friendship, because without Christ man couldn't be drawn deeper into God's friendship, period. With the death and resurrection of Our Lord, we can once again be lifted up towards God--and so Creation was once again able to fulfill its supernaturally-oriented purpose. I can't think of a better way to put it.
All creation, now redeemed, either consciously or unconsciously does whatever it is meant to do for the love of God: "O ye fire and heat, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. O ye ice and cold, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever," runs the song of the three holy children in the book of Daniel. We consciously strive for salvation because of the love and grace of God. Likewise, microbes swim across microscope slides unconsiously for the love of God. Acorns grow into mighty oaks for the love of God. God is the unmoved mover, and it's not for nothing that the Aristotelian cosmologists of the Middle Ages thought it was for the love of God that the crystalline planetary spheres were able to move. Perhaps that is not true in a strictly physical sense, but it remains just as metaphysically valid today.
The redeemed human body nonetheless remains the summit of creation and the supreme source of architectural perfection. I discussed this in my first post, and I think I would like to return to that in the next installment of my commentary on Incarnational Architecture, particularly the relational nature of the masculine and feminine human body and its relevance to the Trinitarian mystery.
Coming next week, si Dieu le volt....
Part V: The Communio Personalis of the Trinity and Architecture