Thursday, August 06, 2009

Feast of Transfiguration - click to read

"And it came to pass, about eight days after these words, that he took Peter and James and John and went up into a mountain to pray. And whilst he prayed, the shape of his countenance was altered and his raiment became white and glittering. And behold two men were talking with him. And they were Moses and Elias, Appearing in majesty. And they spoke of his decease that he should accomplish in Jerusalem. But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep. And waking, they saw his glory and the two men that stood with him. And it came to pass that, as they were departing from him, Peter saith to Jesus: Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses; and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. And as he spoke these things, there came a cloud and overshadowed them. And they were afraid when they entered into the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud; saying: This is my beloved son. Hear him. And whilst the voice was uttered Jesus was found alone. And they held their peace and told no man in those days any of these things which they had seen." (Luke 9:28-36)

The Council of Vienne in 1311 defined the thinking soul has the form of the body and contains the body. Dom Wiesenger explains "the human soul is not wholly submerge in the body nor completely enclosed by it, a thing which because of its higher degree of perfection is inconceivable, and that in consequence there is nothing to prevent it from reaching beyond the body in its effective power, despite the fact that with its substance it remains essentially in the body"...This semi-freedom of the soul from the body was present in Adam as a normal condition, which permitted him to hear "the voice of God walking in Paradise at the afternoon air (Gen 3:8) and to name animals, not only by abstraction from sensual perception, but "cognizing things intuitively by the light that God had infused into him at the time of his creation". It was presumably by the same kind of direct communication without the mediation of images, which is like that of the angels, that God counseled Adam and Eve. Scripture tells us, "He created in them the science of the spirit, He filled their heart with wisdom and showed them both good and evil...Moreover He gave them instructions and the law of life for an inheritance..And their eye saw the majesty of His glory and their ears heard His glorious voice, and He said to them: Beware of all iniquity!" (Ecclus 17:5-11). Unfortunately, they did not, and their fall from grace caused their souls to be weighed down by their bodies, depriving them and all their descendants of their original powers of intuition. This happened gradually, for even after his sin, Cain was still able to communicate directly with God, but since the Flood, the faculty became nearly extinct, existing only in exceptional souls. St Bernard says, "It was only through sin that reason was thus imprisoned in the senses; once man also had a spiritual eye that did not need the senses in order to know God, but this has now been clouded and darkened by sin and can only be cleansed for contemplation by asceticism." Another Benedictine and spiritual master, Dom Chapman, Abbot of Downside, was firmly persuaded that the supernatural contemplative prayer which goes by the name of "mysticism" is based on this natural human faculty, given that God always works in us according to our nature. As he put it, "The door to the unseen is connatural to integral nature as possessed by Adam, but filled up with lumber by original sin. But, in some souls there is a little light shining through, and if they blow out or shade their terrene candles and lamps [which is the work of Christian mortification], they begin to perceive this light. Once they use it, God can increase it and communicate with them in this new and higher way. Thus the door is a part of the perfection of human nature; the blocking of it is from the imperfection of our nature; the light through the door is supernatural, and all communication through it is from God - therefore a grace, a gift, and from the Holy Ghost". (Let us remember warnings of many Carmelite Saints and mystics, we should never desire spiritual favours for we may be deceived. Therefore, through prayer, mortifications or rather self-denials and pious life based on genuine charity, we may come closer to God.) It all starts with with "ordinary vocal prayer, which can continue for a lifetime, and is rather a part of that great transformation that must take place in man as he approaches his final perfection (when the soul is no longer subdued to a sensual in us but on the contrary). It begins at that point where the soul, still bound to the body, begins to function as a pure spirit, that is to say, 'independently 'of the body. It means therefore the spiritualization of man, a withdrawal within himself (or deep recollection) the attainment of independence by his purely spiritual part, the re-establishment of the spirit in its original sovereignty over the body" once naturally enjoyed by Adam..Didn't Our Lord tell us plainly, "Lo, the kingdom of God is within you?" (Luke 17:21). This is not pious metaphor, but a revelation of the very core of reality, to be found at the very center of our being....St John of the Cross exclaims in the Spiritual Canticle, "O souls created for these grandeurs and called thereto! What are you doing? Wherein do you occupy yourselves?"

Text adopted from "The Sixth Trumpet" by Solange Hertz