Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The conspiring Universe

One of my favourite passages from The Cloud of Unknowing, and in my favourite translation (by Carmen Avecedo Butcher, who captures the earthiness and dynamism of the original so well):

"Every rational creature, every person, and every angel has two main strengths: the power to know and the power to love. God made both of these, but he's not knowable through the first one. To the power of love, however, he is entirely known, because a loving soul is open to receive God's abundance ... So don't be surprised if I direct you to the work of contemplation. If humanity had never sinned, this work would not have stopped. You were made for contemplation, and everything in the universe conspires to help you with it. And contemplation will heal you." (from chapter 4)

In the original text, the author speaks of this capacity of human beings, who cannot encompass God through knowledge, to enfold him entirely in our love as "the endless marvellous miracle of love, which shall never end." Wonderful.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Augustine on interpreting Scripture

Quisquis scripturas divinas vel quamlibet earum partum intellexisse sibi videtur, ita ut in eo intellectu non aedificat istam geminam caritatem, nondum intellexit.

If anyone seems to have understood the divine scriptures or any part of them, but by their reading they do not build up our understanding of the twofold love (of God and neighbour), they do not yet understand.

Augustine, De doctrina Christiana, I.36
Quoted at the opening of Hans Urs von Balthasar's Love alone is credible.

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Friday, 7 June 2013

The sufficiency of God's grace

"In all the events of life the faithful soul is always given grace sufficient for the matter in hand; there is no possibility of insufficiency of grace. The realisation of this truth adds greatly to the calmness with which one may face crises and enables one to accept the events of life as they come without undue worry. As the sense of one's own insufficiency deepens, as one realises that one's failures in the spiritual life are the result of one's own fault or weakness, and not of the failure of grace, so one is able to abandon oneself to the sufficiency of God."

F. P. Harton, The Elements of the Spiritual Life, p28.

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