Wednesday, February 03, 2016

The Spirituality of Receptivity

Two Latent Heresies in the Church that Do Battle With Francis

The Two Temptations to Heresy That Have Done Damage to the Church:  Pelagianism and Gnosticism:
Pelagianism is to reach God through one’s own efforts; Gnosticism is to put primary trust in our way of knowing and reasoning. That is, it is all about us and our way of knowing and doing. At its root, it has done away with the God of Jesus Christ Who is the Trinity of Persons. The truth of Judeo-Christianity is that God comes to us. We do not go to God. The first act of man is to receive without being a “thing-in-itself” that receives. That way Robert Barron says this is” “there is nothing substantial and external with which God enters into relationship but rather that all that is not God is, essentially, a relationship to  God… In response to the question of whether creation is something in the creature or perhaps between the creature and God, Thomas makes the Zen-like remark that that which receives the act of creation is itself a creature [De Potentia, q. 3, art. 3, ad 3]. Operating beyond the categories of substance and accident, Aquinas says that creation is quae relation ad creatorem cum novitiate essendi, a kind of relation to the Creator with freshness of being. The creature does not have a relationship with God; instead, it is a relationship with God.”[1]

                The first act of the human being is to receive, to listen and obey, not  to be a great spiritual figures as Buddha, Gandi, Lao Tze, etc.  Judeo-Christianity is not a source of great spiritual achievements. Rather, it is receptivity and obedience. The initiative is all on the side of God Who is the source of all good in creation.
                Joseph Ratzinger wrote: “The Church does not conceive of the action of becoming a Christian as a process of instruction or even a wider-ranging pedagogical process. She conceives of it as being a sacrament. This means that no one becomes a Christian by his own unaided power. No one can make himself a Christian. It is not within the human being’s power to shape himself as it were into a great-souled person and finally into a Christian. On the contrary, the process of becoming a Christian begins ony when a person sloughs off any illusion of independence and self-sufficiency when he or she acknowledge that human beings do not create themselves and cannot bring themselves to fulfillment but must open themselves and allow themselves to be led, as it were, to their own true selves.

“However, we know that there are many temptations we must resist. I will present you at least two of them. The first is that of Pelagianism, which leads the Church not to be humble, selfless and blessed. … Often it leads us even to assuming a style of control, of hardness, normativity. Rules give to the Pelagian the security of feeling superior, of having a precise orientation. In this it finds its strength, not in the soft breath of the Spirit. Faced with the ills or the problems of the Church, it is useless to seek solutions in conservatism or fundamentalism, in the restoration of outdated forms and conduct that have no capacity for meaning, even culturally. Christian doctrine is not a closed system incapable of generating questions, doubts and uncertainties, but it is living, it knows how to disturb and to encourage. Its face is not rigid, it has a body that moves and develops, it has tender flesh; Christian doctrine is called Jesus Christ”.

“A second temptation is the gnosticism that leads us to place our trust in logical and clear reasoning that, however, loses the tenderness of our brother's flesh. … The difference between Christian transcendence and any other form of gnostic spiritualism resides in the mystery of the Incarnation. Not putting into practice, not leading the Word to reality, means building on sand, remaining in the pure idea and degenerating into intimisms that do not bear fruit, that render its dynamism sterile”.

                That failing, mummies of spiritual worldliness, static status quo returning to the past – clericalism - in a museum

[1] R. Barron, “Exploring Catholic Theology,” Baker Academic 2015, 35. Creation and its consequences goes beyond our sensible and abstractive epistemological horizon. In this case, God, creating from nothing (ex nihilo) creates the very receptivity that “receives” being from Him. There cannot be a pre-existent “being” - substance or essence- that receives the esse that makes it be. So, everything created must be constitutively relational to the Creator since it can be nothing-in-itself

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