(This material is from Chapter 4 in Christian Spirituality. An Introduction)
Last session, we asked: What is Christian Spirituality?
We ultimately came up with this working definition:
Today we will consider the following beliefs and doctrines:
And for each, we will give:
God is the creator and sustainer of the world
Ways of conceiving the creative activity of God:
The Doctrine of Creation affirms:
2.3.1. Hildegard of Bingen
Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
2.3.2. Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
Humanity is created in the "image of God," (Genesis 1:27)
Three positions on how this relationship develops and grows:
3.2. Implications for Spirituality in the Doctrine of Human Nature and Destiny
Humanity has been made by God and for God
3.2.2. Deepening Our Relationship To God Involves Opening Ourselves to God's Grace
Deepening our relationship to God involves "opening" ourselves up to God's "grace." Analogies:
3.3. An Example of a Work of Spirituality Grounded in the Doctrine on Human Nature and Destiny
Jean-Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751)
4. The Trinity
There are three "persons" (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) in the one God, characterized by:
The Trinity is a mystery, impossible for human beings to fully comprehend
Implications for spirituality in the doctrine of the Trinity include:
4.3.1. Richard of St. Victor
Richard of St. Victor
"St Patrick's Breastplate"
"St Patrick's Breastplate:"
I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One, and One in Three.
I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star-lit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.
I bind this day to me for ever,
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spiced tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.
I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, his might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, his shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.
The second person of the Trinity -- Jesus Christ, the Logos or Word, the Son of God -- is fully God and fully Human
"The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory – the glory, such as belongs to the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14)
Icons in Orthodoxy
"Previously there was absolutely no way in which God, who has neither a body nor a face, could be represented by any image. But now that he has made himself visible in the flesh and has lived with people, I can make an image of what I have seen of God . . . and contemplate the glory of the Lord, his face having been unveiled."
- John of Damascus (675-749)
Many beautiful on-line images of icons can be found on the web sites of the two largest Orthodox bodies in America:
The salvation of each person and of the world is grounded in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
We can find through the ages four themes or images of the meaning of the cross and resurrection:
Implications for spirituality in the doctrine of the Redemption includes:
Devotional literature on the cross as the basis of meditation on the costliness and wonder of redemption
1. Isaac Watt's (1674-1748) hymn "When I survey the wondrous cross"
When I survey the wondrous Cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
Save in the Cross of Christ my Lord
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.
See from his head, his hands, his feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet?
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
6.3.2. Ignatius Loyola: Dialog with Jesus Dying on the Cross
In his Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) invites the reader to engage in a dialogue with Christ dying on the cross:
Imagine Christ our Lord before you, hanging upon the cross. Talk to him about how the creator became a human being and how he who possesses eternal life submitted himself to physical death for our sins. Then I shall reflect on myself, and ask:
What I have done for Christ?
What I am now doing for Christ?
What ought I to do for Christ?
As I see him like this, hanging upon the cross, I shall meditate on what comes to mind
The Christian belief in the Resurrection is the assertion that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and:
his Resurrection was without precedence in Jewish thinking. The Pharisees believed only in a resurrection at the end of time; the Sadducees believed in no resurrection
The Resurrection is celebrated at the holiday of Easter, the most important Christian festival of the year. It has enormous implications for Christian Spirituality. It:
Hymn of joy for the Resurrection: Easter hymn in the early 18th collection Lyra Davidica
Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once, upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!
Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly king; Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!
But the pains that he endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky he's king, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing! Alleluia!
Poems and liturgies of the believer's hope of rising with Christ:
George Herbert (1593-1633), Anglican priest and poet:
Rise, heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Who take thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise.
"Troparion" of Easter in Byzantine Liturgy:
Christ is risen from the dead!
Dying, he conquered death!
To the dead, he has given life!
Meditations on the defeat of death through the Resurrection includes this poem by the Anglican priest and poem John Donne (1571/2- 1631):
Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and valiant, for thou art so,
For, those, whom thou thinks'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me;
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be.
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more, Death thou shalt die.
There will be a final consummation of all things in a "heavenly Jerusalem"
The community of the faithful will live in the total presence of God in an eternal realm depicted in parables as strongly communal -- a banquet, a wedding feast, a city (the New Jerusalem)
8.2.1. The Tension Between the "Now" and "Not Yet"
The tension in this life between the "now" and "not yet" of the Kingdom of God invites meditation on how
8.2.2. The Beatific Vision
Bernard of Cluny's (1100-1150) classic vision of the New Jerusalem:
Jerusalem the golden
With mild and honey blessed
Beneath thy contemplation
Sink heart and voice oppressed.
I know not, O, I know not
What joys await us there,
What radiancy of glory
What bliss beyond compare.
They stand, those halls of Zion
All jubilant with song,
And bright with many an angel,
And all the martyr throng.
The Prince is ever with them,
The daylight is serene,
The pastures of the blessed
Are decked in glorious sheen
There is the throne of David
And there, from care released,
The shout of them that triumph,
The song of them that feast.
And they, who with their Leader,
Have conquered in the fight
For ever and for ever
Are clad in robes of white.
O sweet and blessed country
The home of God's elect!
O sweet and blessed country
That eager hearts expect!
Jesu, in mercy bring us
To that dear land of rest;
Who art, with God the Father,
And Spirit, ever blessed.
Christian Spirituality. An Introduction. Alister E. McGrath. Blackwell Publishers, 1999. ISBN: 0631212817 (Chapter 4: Theological Foundations for Spirituality: Case Studies)