Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sentire cum Ecclesia: Albertus Magnus: "De adhaerendo Dei"

Chapter 2: How can one cling to and seek Christ alone, disdaining everything else? [Qualiter quis, omnibus aliis spretis, soli Christo inhaereat et intendat?]

Certainly, anyone who desires and aims to arrive at and remain in such a state must needs above all have eyes and senses closed and not be inwardly involved or worried about anything [opus est omnino, ut velut clausis oculis et sensibus, de nulla re se penitus implicet aut perturbet], nor concerned or occupied with anything, but should completely reject all such things as irrelevant, harmful and dangerous. Then he should withdraw himself totally within himself and not pay any attention to any object entering the mind except Jesus Christ, the wounded one, alone, and so he should turn his attention with care and determination through him into him –– that is, through the man into God, through the wounds of his humanity into the inmost reality of his divinity [nec aliud umquam objectum inibi mente attendat, quam solum Jesum Christum vulneratum: sicque per eum in eum, id est, per hominem in Deum, per vulnera humanitatis ad intima divinitatis suae].

Here he can commit himself and all that he has, individually and as a whole, promptly, securely and without discussion, to God’s unwearying providence, in accordance with the words of Peter, cast all your care upon him (1 Peter 5.7), who can do everything. And again, In nothing be anxious (Philippians 4.6), or what is more, Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain you. (Psalm 55.22) Or again, It is good for me to hold fast to God, (Ps. 73.28) and I have always set up God before me. (Psalm 16.8) The bride too in the Song of Songs says, I have found him whom my soul loves [Inveni quem diligit anima mea], (Canticle 3.4) and again, All good things came to me along with her. (Wisdom 7.11)

This, after all, is the hidden heavenly treasure, none other than the pearl of great price, which must be sought with resolution, esteeming it in humble faithfulness, eager diligence, and calm silence before all things [taciturnitate tranquilla, etiam usque ad corporalis commodi], and preferring it even above physical comfort, or honour and renown. For what good does it do a religious if he gains the whole world but suffers the loss of his soul? Or what is the benefit of his state of life, the holiness of his profession, the virtue of his habit and tonsure, or the outer circumstances of his way of life if he is without a life of spiritual humility and truth in which Christ abides through a faith created by love? [Aut quid relevat status, professionis sanctitas, perfectionis habitus, tonsura, et exterioris dispositio conversationis, sine vita in spiritu humilitatis et veritatis, ubi Christus habitat per fidem charitate formatam?] This is what Luke means by, the Kingdom of God (that is, Jesus Christ) is within you. (Luke 17.21)

Remember, of course, that, according to the recieved history of the Middle Ages, as it was largely propagated by Protestant and Enlightenment historians, and as it took deep root in the collective consciousness of Protestant and post-Reformation nations (such as the United States and England), medieval Catholicism was all about "works salvation" and senseless mortification. Only with the rise of Luther and the magisterial Reformers did Christendom, after centuries of papist corruption and myriad Romish perversions, get a taste once more of the authentic streams of Christian spiritual devotion. And yet we plainly see how "self-conscious" Albertus is of the vanity of mere religious profession if it lacks a vital inner devotion to and delight in Jesus. Albertus wrote in the heart of the Middle Ages and his influence can hardly be overstated. Hence, the myth of a hyper-ritualized, mechanical, "works-based faith" in the Catholic Church is compromised even where it should be most blatant.

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