Sunday, February 28, 2010

At the Heart of the Transfiguration - Father SimonTugwell, OP

“It is a measure of how far we are from purity of heart and from our natural condition that it should seem almost unnatural to us to be concerned with God. It is all too understandable that the old definition of prayer as the "rising of the mind to God" should have come to be mistranslated as the "raising of the mind to God," and that the old liturgical exclamation, "Up hearts!" should have become "Lift up your hearts." It barely even occurs to us that that upward movement is natural to hearts. If we had real hearts, hearts purified of all that is not heart, they would gravitate towards God as naturally as ham to eggs.

It is a measure of our humanity that we should come to be fascinated by God, and then all our life will fall into place, all our faculties will function in the way God intended them to function, we can then also put up with an awful lot of tiresome things in life, because they pale into insignificance beside the wonder of God. In that light, even pain and failure and betrayal cease to matter too much. Even they can be seen to shine, when they are seen in God, because even they have been accepted by God as the price for union with our world.

Our human nature is indeed, as Saint Thomas, following Saint Augustine, dared to assert, capax Dei, it has room for God. But it has room for God because it has an innate capacity, even a need, to transcend itself. It is the mystery in us, the unfathomable profundity which makes us ungraspable even to ourselves, which is capable of enfolding the mystery of God.

We may try to deny that we have this drive within us to transcend ourselves, but if we do we shall consign ourselves only to dullness and death. But if we allow it to affect us, we shall be laying ourselves open to the most dangerous and devastating force in existence. The urge that drives us to seek God is the same as the urge that drives us to smash things. The old psychologists were absolutely correct in the ambiguous role they ascribed to our power of anger. It is the power that smashes through limitations, leading us either to become visionaries or to become vandals.”

– FATHER SIMON TUGWELL, O.P., Father Simon Tugwell is a Dominican priest, the author of several books on theology and spirituality, and a member of the Dominican Historical Institute.
— Magnificat, Vol 11, No. 13, February 2010, Pp. 389-390.

2 comments:

Athos said...

This reflection by Fr Tugwell hit me like a ton of bricks, too, Aramis, when I read it Sunday before Mass. (I savor a half hour of Adoration - make that 45 mins. -before 7:30 a.m. Mass. Does anybody else?)

What struck me was the bit about anger:
The old psychologists were absolutely correct in the ambiguous role they ascribed to our power of anger. It is the power that smashes through limitations, leading us either to become visionaries or to become vandals

In my experience, this is absolutely true, existentially. Mimetically speaking, if I do not use that ferocity to "ask, seek, and knock" at the door of true transcendence, I will use such in the mimetic rivalries, entanglements, and funny business of false transcendence.

Aramis said...

Amen Athos, amen.

I was so stirred by that very comment at the end of this excerpt that I went back and re-read and re-read. Virtually every line starts to leap off the page...

"It is a measure of how far we are from purity of heart and from our natural condition that it should seem almost unnatural to us to be concerned with God."

Oh man, how true... and how true the way we have "mistranslated" or simply watered down prayers and liturgical exclamations!

Have you read The Genesis of Desire by Oughourlian? Speaking of the existential and pyschological aspect of the person I have found a number of parts that jump out at you.