Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus

Archive for the ‘The Mystics’ Category

July 1st, 2016 by Joel Watts

Merton – too smart, too stupid, and pride

I can think of a few “abstruse” doctrines…this Gnosticist attempt at intellectualizing the faith, whether it is some progressive sense of “justice” or perhaps some notion of super-predestinationism…

Or those who reject the intellectual tradition of the Faith…

This is done in pride.

June 1st, 2016 by Joel Watts

The Seven Sacraments as the Gospel acted out

The Seven Sacraments held by the various Catholic communions are often dismissed by Protestants as superfluous to Scripture. Perhaps they are, but that is not the argument I want to make. Rather, I want to suggest we see them as the exact representation of the Gospel story.

seven sacraments

St. Bonaventure sees them mystically in relation to the seven ages,

Concerning the number and division of the sacraments of the new law, the following must be held. There are seven sacraments corresponding to the sevenfold grace which, through the seven ages of time,† leads us to the Principle, to repose, to the circle of eternity, as to an eighth age, that of universal resurrection. († See Prologue (2), On the Length of Holy Scripture, page 8.)1

But, I think there is more to the institution of these sacraments. If you step back from the Articles of Religion and the great Anglican Divines, you see something of a myth enacted throughout the life of the Christian, that of the gospels’ telling of the life of Jesus. Again, from St Bonaventure:

For He instituted these sacraments in words and material elements for the sake of conveying clear meaning and effective sanctification; but in such a way that while they would always signify truly, they would not always heal effectively, by reason of a defect, not of their own, but of the recipient.

These sacraments Christ instituted in different ways. Some, He confirmed, approved, and brought to full perfection, to wit, Matrimony and Penance; others He established implicitly in their original form, to wit, Confirmation and Extreme Unction; others again, He originated, brought to full perfection, and received in Person, to wit, Baptism, Holy Eucharist, and Orders. He fully instituted these three, and was also their first Recipient2

 Each sacrament is traced directly back to the Gospels.

  • Baptism — Mark 1.9
  • Eucharist — Mark 14.12-26
  • Confirmation/Chrismation — Mark 1.10-11
  • Reconciliation — Mark 1.15, among other times and places
  • Anointing of the sick — Mark 1.140-45
  • Marriage — John 2.1-12
  • Holy orders — Mark 1.16-20

The Sacraments, seven in number, are hardly a late invention. Rather, they serve to incorporate the life of the Christian into the story of Jesus. The Christian becomes Christ-like in their actions, taking very literally the command to follow Him.

  1.  Saint Bonaventure, Breviloquium (trans. José De Vinck; vol. 2; The Works of Bonaventure: Cardinal Seraphic Doctor and Saint; Paterson, NJ: St. Anthony Guild Press, 1963), 230.
  2.  Saint Bonaventure, Breviloquium (trans. José De Vinck; vol. 2; The Works of Bonaventure: Cardinal Seraphic Doctor and Saint; Paterson, NJ: St. Anthony Guild Press, 1963), 233.
November 29th, 2015 by Joel Watts

St. John of the Cross – Christ is the Final Word, Reading for #Advent

English: Moses Pleading with Israel, as in Deu...

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If only… someone… could bring us John… to us Protestants….

The principal reason why the Old Law permitted us to ask questions of God, and why prophets and priests had to seek visions and revelations of God, was because at that time faith had no firm foundation and the law of the Gospel was not yet established; and thus it was necessary that men should enquire of God and that he should speak, whether by words or by visions and revelations or whether by figures and images or by many other ways of expressing His meaning. For all that he answered and revealed belonged to the mysteries of our faith and things touching it or leading to it.

But now that the faith is founded in Christ, now that in this era of grace the law of the Gospel has been made manifest, there is no reason to enquire of God in that manner nor for him to speak to us or answer us as he did then. For, in giving us, as he did, his Son, who is his one and only Word, he spoke to us once and for all, in this single Word, and he has no occasion to speak further.

And this is the meaning of that passage with which the Letter to the Hebrews begins, trying to persuade the Hebrews that they should abandon those first ways of dealing and communicating with God which are in the law of Moses, and should set their eyes on Christ alone: At various times in the past and in various different ways, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our own time, in the last days, he has spoken to us through his Son. That is, God has said so much about so many things through his Word that nothing more is needed, since that which he revealed partially in the past through the prophets, he has now revealed completely by giving us the All, which is his Son.

Therefore if someone were now to ask questions of God or seek any vision or revelation, he would not only be acting foolishly but would be committing an offence against God – for he should set his eyes altogether upon Christ and seek nothing beyond Christ.

God might answer him after this manner, saying: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; listen to him. I have spoken all things to you in my Word. Set your eyes on him alone, for in him I have spoken and revealed to thee all things, and in him you shall find more than you ask for, even more than you want.

I descended upon him with my Spirit on Mount Tabor and said This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; listen to him. You have no reason to ask for new teaching or new answers from me because if I spoke to you in the past then it was to promise Christ. If people asked questions of me in the past then their questions were really a desire of Christ and a hope for his coming. For in him they were to find all good things, as has now been revealed in the teaching of the Evangelists and the Apostles. (here)

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November 29th, 2015 by Joel Watts

St. John of the Cross – If You Want #advent

If
you want
the Virgin will come walking down the road
pregnant with the holy,
and say,
“I need shelter for the night, please take me inside your heart,
my time is so close.”

Then, under the roof of your soul, you will witness the sublime
intimacy, the divine, the Christ
taking birth
forever,

as she grasps your hand for help, for each of us
is the midwife of God, each of us.

Yet there, under the dome of your being does creation
come into existence eternally, through your womb, dear pilgrim—
the sacred womb in your soul,

as God grasps our arms for help; for each of us is
His beloved servant
never far.

If you want, the Virgin will come walking
down the street pregnant
with Light and sing …

–St. John of the Cross, “If You Want” in Daniel LadinskyLove Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West (New York: Penguin Group, 2002), 306-307

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February 16th, 2015 by Joel Watts

#QOTD – St Maximus on moving to the sublime

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