Saturday, January 7


Further Encyclical Thoughts

I had a fascinating conversation with the Shrine's Big Balthasarian on Campus, Dan, about my forecasts for Deus, Caritas Est; while I think much of my speculation is still pretty plausible, I now think perhaps there will be a slightly different emphasis in light of the fact that Benedict is likely to use eros in a broader sense--in the sense (as I understand it) that Hans Urs von Balthasar used it in his own work, a general desire for earthly, physical things, rather than a specificially marital use of the word. I think the Patristic and liturgical aspects of Benedict's own spirituality are still going to play a big role in this encyclical, though.

(Bear in mind, I know very little about Balthasarian theology, and occasionally spell the great man's name wrong and confuse him with a New York bakery; Dan understands it very well, though--so any misunderstanding lies with me, not him!)

Benedict's theological formation long predates the Theology of the Body, of course, but he's not at all unfamiliar with many of the mystical core concepts of the Church's theology of marriage (well, duh), especially through his background in the work of St. Bonaventure--who himself drew connections between marital love and Christ's sacrifice on Calvary if I remember correctly. So maybe there'll be some of that, but the central theme is a more general, and perhaps more widely applicable evocation of eros which will resonate with all of us, whether inside or outside of a relationship.

(Incidentally, I am informed Cardinal Scola has written a book linking the Theology of the Body with von Balthasar. Sounds yummy.)

That being said, this is nonetheless exciting and timely: the world, so used to portraying the Church as quasi-Manichaean, ought to hear that it is possible to enjoy the good things of God's creation in a manner rightly ordered to our love of Christ, and that broader eros is naturally tied in to our desire for Christ. At the very least, using these terms and ideas, so widely misunderstood today, is likely to get people's attention out there. It certainly is something our odd, carnal-prurient-prudish-materialist-gnostic culture could stand to hear; when you imbue the material world with spiritual significance rather than filing away the soul, you can no longer ignore the importance of things--and art--and liturgy--and people's bodies, so mistreated through illicit sex or physical abuse. Dan passed me on a quote that was, I believe, from one of Ratzinger's more recent works (sadly, I forget the title) that illuminates this theme marvelously. Read it slowly:
So it is not merely the external beauty of the Redeemer's appeareance that is praised: rather, the beauty of truth appears in him, the beauty of God himself, who powerfully draws us and inflicts on us the wound of Love, as it were, a holy Eros that enables us to go forth, with and in the Church, his Bride, to meet the Love, who calls us.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?