Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thomas Aquinas’s and Pope Francis’s Common Task: The Ecstatic Perception of Reality.

Jesus Christ has revealed that the divine Persons are relations as Father, Son and Spirit. St. Thomas rendered them as “Subsistent Relations” – not as “Substances” – whereby they are One. They are not “united” as individuals” They are “One.” As such, the divine Persons are “ecstacies.” They are other than anything we can experience through the senses. And the human person, created in the image and likeness of those Persons, are ecstatic in the constitution of their being. And the reason for this is that God as Creator is not a a “being” of His world [except the humanity that He assumed as His own] but is the “power” whereby any is at all. Barron comments on Thomas’s De Potentia, 3, 1: “Since God truly creates, there is absolutely no aspect of finite reality that does not flow from the divine source. There is nothing in the world, in nature, in the cosmos, in us, that is not, in every detail, the result of God’s creative act. There is, consequently, nothing that is finally ‘secular’ or ‘profane;’ instead, everything is, in principle, at the root of its being, sacred. The great counter-position here would be that of Gnostics who claim that God touches and is responsible for the spiritual realm while remaining opposed to the evil of the material dimension. In affirming creation from nothing, Thomas shows his radical disagreement with this sort of dualism: for him, as for the author of Genesis, all being is redolent of the divine and hence worthy of reverence and celebration: all ground is holy ground, all places are holy places, all times are sacred times…. Nothing is profane for those who know how to see.”[1]

                This being so, i.e. esse is who I am as image and likeness, then I am ultimately like God in relationality and ecstasy. Copying from Gerald Manley Hopkins, Barron writes: “This, it seems to me, is what Thomas Aquinas means by the act of creation. Despite the suffering that we face on a daily basis, despite the gloomy prospects of global politics, despite our fear or the unknown future, ‘there lives the ‘dearest freshness deep down,’ there exists a source of life and hope and love that is the divine power. And this power can never by exhausted because it is the very being of the creature, it is the presence of God’s love in us. Thus, the more we call upon it, the more we give it away, the more we draw from it, the more abundant it becomes.

                “And once more, if creation is the act by which the whole of one’s being is constituted, then the creature is nothing but a relationship to God. In light of Thomas’s understanding of creation, relation, not substance, is the primary category of reality. It is not as though God makes things with which he then establishes a relationship; on the contrary, from the beginning, all ‘things’ already are relations to the divine source. We are most ourselves precisely when we acknowledge that what we are, most fundamentally, is a rapport, a play, a dynamic relation to God.”[2]

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   Blogger: it is in this light that it seems that the sacramental forgiveness for any sin – if there is acknowledgement and contrition – can retrieve and activate this “deep down freshness” that is at the ontological root of every person. Francis is after this, banking on God’s Mercy and our acceptance of it in humility.

[1] R. Barron “Thomas Aquinas – Spiritual Master” Crossroad (1996)115, 116.
[2] IPbid. 120

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