Friday, September 12, 2008

Death, Personhood, & Trading Up

Friend and mentor Gil Bailie of the Cornerstone Forum relates an anthropological and ontological truth in Session 7 of his Emmaus Road Initiative. The locus of our selfhood as persons is found in the being we have on loan, as it were, from the Father, "maker of heaven and earth," in the words of the Nicene Creed. This personhood, imago dei, is unique to the Christian faith, with its forerunners the prophets of Israel with their unique relationship to the LORD.

Jesus Christ is, as Bailie quips, the "invitation" from the Triune God to enter the trinitarian perichoresis of John Damasene; the Catholic Church is the "R.S.V.P." of humanity to become, as it were, converted persons in a community of con-substantiality (Gr. homo-oussia) and mutual self-donating love (Gr. agape') with God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

If this all seems a bit of heavy weather and rough-sledding, I can only respond by apologizing and saying: you probably have not felt the near proximity of death. Yet. But for those who have like myself, the orthodox Catholic notion that our anthropology and personhood is a gift from the Word made flesh (Jn 1:14) who is "one in being with the Father," and who sacramentally bestows and infuses con-substantiality upon and with us in His divinization ... well! That, my friends, is good news indeed.

In fact, I'd call death "trading up."

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