Thursday, April 29, 2010

A question of honour…

Either you see the Body of Christ everywhere or you don’t see it at all. There are finally no divisions, except in our ability to see.  This is a mystical and non-dualistic seeing that connects everything to everything. “There is one God from whom all things come and toward which we all go” (1 Corinthians 8:6), as St. Paul puts it.

God is perfectly hidden in this material world. And for those who have learned how to see, God is even more perfectly revealed. God shines through all things.  You want to kiss trees and honor whatever is, even though you know most will mock or misunderstand.

You are even brought to tears sometimes by the least of the brothers and sisters because the divine image shines through so clearly in those things that have no artificial glitter or self-evident glory.  When you discover it on your own, it is like a secret revelation, and all the more beautiful.

Richard Rohr, adapted from the CD Creating Christian Community

This is interesting. Those whom Rohr suspects will “mock or misunderstand” will probably suspect the Franciscan either of pantheism—imagining that God and the universe are really the same thing—or animism—imagining that inanimate objects have souls, and so are maybe worthy of worship in and for themselves. Of course we are neither of these things: all that is points us to God, and is to be honoured as transparent to him from whose hand it comes. It’s a bit like the old Protestant paranoia about Catholics worshipping Mary. Of course they don’t: they worship the Saviour to whom she gave birth, and to whom her whole life points… but as the lowly girl whom all generations call blessed (Luke 1.46ff), the one to whom the angel Gabriel was especially sent (Luke 1.26ff), she is most certainly to be honoured.

Don’t imagine that I’m saying, or that Fr. Richard is saying either, come to that, that trees and stones are to be accorded the same honour as the Blessed Virgin; but all that God has made is his, and is in that sense holy. And if that is the case, how might we relate to that creation, hurt as it is? Should we not honour and respect it as God’s handiwork, and pray for it with tears, seeing its beauty hurt and broken by our own human sin (Romans 8.18ff)?

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