Friday, April 14, 2006

The Theology of Holy Saturday 2006

The Freedom of Self-Mastery in Jesus Christ:

The “I” of Jesus Christ is the Divine Logos. He has taken the man Jesus of Nazareth to be His very Self dynamizing the soul and body by His Personal Act of Existence as Son of the Father. This act of existence – “Esse” – is divine and personal. It is the act of the man Jesus.
The human will of Jesus of Nazareth is the human will of the Divine Person of the Son. He willed to obey the Father by taking all the sins of all men of all time as His own in that will: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5, 21). He could not take the sin into His divinity since it is intrinsically contradictory to the self-giftedness of the Divine Persons. But He could take it into His human will. And it is at this point, that He suffered. It is not correct to say – as Thomas G. Weinandy says[1] – that God does not suffer, since by suffering he means that there is a diminution in the Divine Being. It must be clear that “actiones sunt suppositorum,” i.e. that natures do not suffer, but persons (supposits) do. The Divine Person of the Son suffers – and this freely as self-gift of solidarity with us – through His human nature. It is “His” and, therefore, He suffers. This position of the non-suffering God would demand a metaphysic of substance for the Divine Persons, which would mean that we would have three Gods. If the Persons are not Beings in themselves as substances but pure Relations in the differing forms of Agape as self-gift – generation, obedience and personification of the two – then, indeed, we have suffering in the Persons. And exceedingly so.

“The Crucified Christ reveals the authentic meaning of freedom; he lives it fully in the total gift of himself and calls his disciples to share in his freedom”[2]

“Recollect that our Blessed Lord was in this respect different from us, that, though He was perfect man, yet there was a power in Him greater than His soul, which ruled His soul, for He was God. The soul of other men is subject to its own wishes, feelings, impulses, passions, perturbations; His soul was subjected simply to His Eternal and Divine Personality. Nothing happened to His soul by chance, or on a sudden’ He never was taken by surprise’ nothing affected Him without His willing beforehand that it should affect Him. Never did He sorrow, or fear, or desire, or rejoice in spirit, but He first willed to be sorrowful, or afraid, or desirous, or joyful…. His Divine Person was not subject, could not be exposed, to the influence of His own human affections and feelings, except so far as He chose. I repeat, when He chose to fear, He feared; when He chose to be angry, He was angry’ when He chose to grieve, He was grieved. He was not open to emotion, but He opened upon Himself voluntarily the impulse by which He was moved. Consequently, when He determined to suffer the pain of His vicarious passion, whatever He did, as the Wise Man says, instanter, `earnestly,’ with His might… and when His our was come, that hour of Satan and of darkness, the hour when sin was to pour its full malignity upon Him, it followed that He offered Himself wholly, a holocaust, a whole burnt-offering… His passion was an action; He lived most energetically, while He lay languishing, fainting, and dying. Nor did He die, except by an act of the will’ for He bowed His head, in command as well as in resignation, and said, `Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit;’ He gave the word, He surrendered His soul, He did not lose it.”[3]

Holy Saturday: The Death of God

God cannot die in His Divine Nature. But He can die as Divine Person through His human nature. Notice that Newman says: “Nor did He die, except by an act of the will; for He bowed His head, in command as well as in resignation, and said, `Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit;’ He gave the word, He surrendered His soul, He did not lose it.” He went on to say: “God was the sufferer; God suffered in His human nature; the sufferings belonged to God, and were drunk up, were drained out to the bottom of the chalice, because God drank them; not tasted or sipped, not flavored, disguised by human medicaments… What He suffered, He suffered because He put Himself under suffering, and that deliberately and calmly. As He said to the leper, `I will, be thou clean;’ and to the paralytic, `Thy sins be forgiven thee;’ and to the centurion, `I will come and heal him;’ and of Lazarus, `I go to wake him out of sleep;’ so He said, `Now I will begin to suffer,’ and He did begin. His composures is but the proof how entirely He governed His own mind. He drew back, at the proper moment, the bolts and fastenings, and opened the gates, and the floods fell right upon His soul in all their fullness…. `They came,’ (Mark) says, `to the place which is called Gethsemani; and he saith to His disciples, Sit you here while I pray. And He taketh with Him Peter and James and John, and He began to be frightened and to be very heavy.’ You see how deliberately He acts; He comes to a certain spot; and then, giving the word of command, and withdrawing the support of the God-head from His soul, distress, terror, and dejection at once rush in upon it. Thus He walks forth into a mental agony with as definite an action as if it were some bodily torture, the fire or the wheel.”[4]

Cardinal Ratzinger:

“Should we not turn to see that …Holy Saturday stands liturgically in the Church’s year, is particularly close to our day and is to a particular degree the experience of our century. On Good Friday our gaze remains fixed on the crucified Christ, but Holy Saturday is the day of the `death of God,’ the day which expresses the unparalleled experience of our age, anticipating the fact that God is simply absent, that the grave hides him, that he no longer awakes, no longer speaks, so that one no longer needs to gainsay him but can simply overlook him. `God is dead and we have killed him.’ This saying of Nietzsche’s belongs linguistically to the tradition of Christian Passiontide piety; it expresses the content of Holy Saturday, `descended into hell.’”[5]

Cause of the Amnesia of God

The deep epistemological reason for the absence of God in the 20th, and now 21st century, is the hegemony of positivism, the acceptance of only one kind of experience, that of the external senses, and the non-discovery of the self and the experience of the self as gift. This is the root of the "dictatorship of relativism." God can only be discovered experientially by the conversion of the self from the visible to becoming gift to the other (which is invisible), and therefore experiencing Being on a different horizon and in a different key. To experience being as the self in the act of transcendence of obedience and service is to experience the God whom the self images. This is the major recovery that has to be made in this century, and it is the task of the new evangelization.
At the moment, God is dead in our consciousness. He may be there conceptually, but not consciously as “presence” because we are not experiencing giftedness and thoughtfulness to others as social ethos. However, if we make that gift, He will rise early on Sunday morning and appear to us after appearing first to His Mother. We will know it by the joy that begins to be aroused in us.

[1] “I have attempted briefly to argue that God is impassible and so does not suffer. In the Church’s most important public task of communicating the gospel, speaking of the God who does not suffer as we suffer may go against the grain, but such is the God of Scripture and normative Christian tradition. As I have tried to show, the truth that God does not suffer is at the heart of the gospel, making it truly good news. This is especially in contrast to the bad news, which has become something like a `new orthodoxy,’ that God is in as much trouble as we are;” First Things, November 2001 41.
[2] John Paul II, “Veritatis Splendor” #85.
[3] John Henry Newman, “Mental Sufferings of Our Lord in His Passion,” to Discourses to Mixed Congregations in A Newman Treasure 200-201.
[4] Ibid 202-203.
[5] J. Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” (1990) 224.

1 comment:

Anonymous said... tramadol 180 [url=]tramadol 180[/url] buy tramadol online [url=]buy tramadol online[/url] buy generic viagra online [url=]buy generic viagra online[/url] low cost viagra [url=]low cost viagra[/url] buy cheap generic viagra [url=]buy cheap generic viagra[/url] wellbutrin [url=]wellbutrin[/url] buy cheap generic viagra [url=]buy cheap generic viagra[/url] low cost viagra [url=]low cost viagra[/url] tramadol prescription [url=]tramadol prescription[/url]