Tag Archives: theology

Moved from theologia to technologia

I recently found this admonition by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware on certain connections:

“Once theology forgets the unavoidable limitations of the human understanding; once it overlooks the apophatic dimension of theology; once it replaces the ineffable Word of God with human logic, then, as the Cappadocians assert, it ceases to be theo-logia and sinks to the level of techno-logia.”

It seems that theologians, public thinkers, and the clergy, have already arrived a technologia. The poor state of preaching, writing/speak, and catechesis demonstrates this fact. The disconnect between faith and reason is key in this regard.

Study theology (anyway)

A friend brought my attention to an essay by pulling out this quote:

A good theologian…’has to be a historian, a philosopher, a linguist, a skillful interpreter of texts both ancient and modern, and probably many other things besides.’ In many ways, a course in theology is an ideal synthesis of all other liberal arts: …as Wood terms it, ‘Queen of the Humanities.’ …the absence of theology in our universities is an unfortunate example of blindness—willful or no—to the fact that engagement with the past requires more than mere objective or comparative analysis. It requires a willingness to look outside our own perspectives in order engage with the great questions—and questioners—of history on their own terms.

Who God is reveals our Christian life

As we move toward Lent and therefore to the Paschal Mysteries of Easter, we ought to reflect upon who God is (theologia) and not merely what God does (ecomomia). Both aspects of our spiritual life are important but acts can not be put before being. Our liturgical prayer, for example, first identifies who God is, and then shows us what He has done for us, and then we make His name known in the doxology.

We are members of a family of faith concerned with the covenant relationship (communio). When we consider who are as Christians we baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity and taught to observe what we have learned of Christ Jesus. In baptism we are created in priest, prophet and king according to the mind of the Lord. Study in the Creed, the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed –all in the light of the Gospel. The proclamation of the Gospel leads us to baptism (not the other way around) and then the Christian manner of living. This is a history that reveals the Mystery.

We are the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21), a constant theme in our faith and how we live this faith.

Happy Thanksgiving

HappyThanksgivingThe act of gratitude is the first step of holiness. This is the teaching of great saints: Augustine, Aquinas, Benedict, Mom. Loyola spoke of the sin of ingratitude in strong terms. Why is gratitude especially important? For one, it reminds us that we don’t make ourselves. It reminds us that God is in-charge and that He loves us. As one commentator said, “The habitual practice of this first step [of Loyola’s teaching on the Examen that you start with gratitude for all that God has given,] opposes “spiritual amnesia” that the enemy tries to cause with desolation.” Jesuit Fr. John Navone writes, “Tell me what you remember, and I’ll tell you what you are (, S.J.). Another Jesuit,  Fr. John Hardon, used to say “the human memory is like a sieve.”

Our asceticism is to create the space to consciously remember good things — the blessings thus becomes a first step; acknowledging them moves into thanksgiving. Blessings on Thanksgiving Day 2015!

Picturing God?

Holy Trinity of God, by Viktor VasnetsovThis image, “The Holy Trinity of God,” by Viktor Vasnetsov is a rather interesting image for Christians.

Some will say, with historical precedent, that this image of the Trinity is heretical because God the Father cannot be depicted in a human form. The proponents of a biblical and liturgical theology state that God the Father is invisible and unable to be depicted in matter. Jesus Christ was born of the indescribable Father, therefore the Father cannot depicted be in an image. Having said this, it has not stopped artists from attempting to show us the Father. The Russians are noted for this.

I happen to like this image but I understand the caution and even the rejection of the image. For many, this issue may an Eastern Christian matter and not a Western one. It is, however, not that easy to say that this is a matter for one portion of the Church and not another. There is something called the unity of faith.

The teaching comes from 7th Ecumenical Council in AD 787, Second Nicea which focussed on the place of iconography in the Church and the very heated controversy between the iconoclasts and the iconodules. No doubt I can’t deal with the whole of the Council but the teaching of the Church was formulated by Saint John of Damascus who said,

Concerning the charge of idolatry: Icons are not idols but symbols, therefore when an Orthodox venerates an icon, he is not guilty of idolatry. He is not worshipping the symbol, but merely venerating it. Such veneration is not directed toward wood, or paint or stone, but towards the person depicted. Therefore relative honor is shown to material objects, but worship is due to God alone.
We do not make obeisance to the nature of wood, but we revere and do obeisance to Him who was crucified on the Cross… When the two beams of the Cross are joined together I adore the figure because of Christ who was crucified on the Cross, but if the beams are separated, I throw them away and burn them.

The Second Council of Nicea formally taught as a result of the Damascene:

Icons are necessary and essential because they protect the full and proper doctrine of the Incarnation. While God cannot be represented in His eternal nature (“…no man has seen God”, John 1:18), He can be depicted simply because He “became human and took flesh.” Of Him who took a material body, material images can be made. In so taking a material body, God proved that matter can be redeemed. He deified matter, making it spirit-bearing, and so if flesh can be a medium for the Spirit, so can wood or paint, although in a different fashion.
I do not worship matter, but the Creator of matter, who for my sake became material and deigned to dwell in matter, who through matter effected my salvation.

Now, where do we go from here? In my mind I think of this issue as very similar to the biblical prohibition from pronouncing he name of God (YHWH). Recall that Benedict XVI asked Catholics to respect this biblical discipline. Sadly, Catholics can have a rather bold and sometimes arrogant approach to some things…

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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