Thursday, January 11, 2007

Christology From Within

Mark McIntosh authors this interesting book on von Balthasar. In chapter 2 he has a section titled, Theological Role of the Saints. Von Balthasar wrote: "Their (the saints) charism consisted in the ability to re-immerse themselves, beyond everything that convention might dictate, in a 'contemporaneity' with the Gospel so as to bequeath the legacy of their intimate experience to their spiritual children."

Von Balthasar sees the gift of the saints as an openness and availability to the Word as first a gift of the church, but it often becomes manifest "in a saint, whose soul has gazed so long and deeply on the light of God that it has come to hold within itself an almost inexhaustible store of light and love, and so can offer lasting force and sustenance."

McIntosh goes on describing von Balthasar's thoughts; mysticism which is not in some way in the service of the whole church's ever deeper appropriation and understanding of life in Chirst is not an appropriate theological matrix... What must be discerned is whether one has surrendered all personal claims to 'experience' in favor of making oneself available to share in the experience of Christ, which itself is then to be shared with the church: "The individual with his experience is ever an expropriated member of the whole and must feel and behave accordingly."

Authentic Christian spirituality is already communally oriented, for it is a spirituality ordered primarily to obedience, which always involves community.

I love swimming in such thoughts and can't help but find threads that link up with Girard and his mimetic theory. The idea that we all go off into some individual spiritual wonderland is not Christian spirituality. Christian spirituality is about coming back (like St. Paul) to tell the story - participating in the life of Christ, that is ever present, and giving witness to that experience. This participating in the life experience of Christ, as well as the mission of Christ, approaches the Christology from within for von Balthasar, who strived to get across that this is often lacking in our theology and dogma today. He stressed the need for theologians to get close to holiness and saintliness and in their work they openly and deeply share in the life experience of Christ as Christ is working in the world.

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