Spring 2003: The Mysteries of the Life of Jesus: Incarnation
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The Spring, 2003 issue of Communio begins with the latest installment in the journal’s continuing series of reflections on the mysteries of the life of Jesus. This year’s theme, “The Mysteries of the Life of Jesus: Incarnation,” focuses on the event whose impact indelibly imprints on the Church its singular form as the “concrete universal” of eschatological salvation: the enfleshment of the eternal Word of God in the complete human life of the Messiah of Israel from conception to Resurrection.
In “Mary’s Role in the Incarnation,” Jacques Servais draws our attention to the figure who, above all, guarantees the concreteness of the Word’s Incarnation: his mother Mary. Mary, Servais shows, is foreseen in the eternal plan of the Son’s Incarnation as the one who, by free grace, is the creaturely sine qua non of that plan’s entire execution.
Marc Ouellet’s “Mary and the Future of Ecumenism” shows how, thanks to this role, Mary is the personal embodiment of ecclesiality—and, therefore, holds the key to a fruitful rethinking of all the quaestiones disputataeof ecumenical discussion in terms of the triune love she radiates.
Complementing Ouellet’s reflection on the Marian core of ecclesiality, Michael Figura’s “The Eucharist as Sacramental Incarnation” draws attention to an important patristic tradition of interpreting the Eucharist as a sacramental extension of the Incarnation, wrought by the Holy Spirit, in the midst of the Church, and as the heart of its ecclesial being.
The Fathers’ tenacious defense of the Incarnation figures prominently in Michael Heintz’s “Envy and Ingratitude in the Adversus Haereses of Irenaeus,” which highlights Irenaeus’ hitherto little noticed use of the themes of envy and ingratitude to convict the Gnostics of angelistic rebellion against man’s embodied creatureliness and so to vindicate the incarnational principle of caro cardo salutis, the flesh as the hinge of salvation.
The final article on the theme of the Incarnation, Rémi Brague’s “Wasted Time?,” also sounds an Irenaean note: the long years of growth to maturity in his hidden life underscore the density of the
incarnate Word’s enfleshment, a density central to his status as God’s own self-revelation in person.
The Risk of Education, the second theme of the present issue, brings together three papers originally presented in the context of a conference on Luigi Giussani’s book of the same title: The Risk of
Education: Discovering Our Ultimate Destiny (New York: Crossroad, 2001).
In “How Risky Is The Risk of Education? Random Reflections from the American Context,” Stanley Hauerwas argues that Christian faith, in order to be true to itself, must be embodied in practices that, by their very nature, force a radical re-thinking of what the content of the university disciplines—including biology and physics—is conventionally understood to be. Such a re-thinking does not nullify intelligence, but specifies the way in which faith is the highest act of intelligence itself.
Angelo Scola’s “Education and Integral Experience” guides the reader through Giussani’s account of education, which, says Scola, culminates when reality, bearing witness to itself in the very person of the educator, summons the student to the “risk” of the commitment that alone inwardly fulfills the dynamism of intelligence as determined by the sign-character of the real itself.
In “Mentality and Personality: Newman and Giussani on Catholic Education,” M. Katherine Tillman shows through a comparative reading of Newman and Giussani the profound convergence of their respective educational visions. For both authors, Tillman demonstrates, education is a matter of awakening the whole person to an appreciation of reality as a whole within a structured community of love.
The article featured in this issue’s Spirit and History returns us to the theme of Incarnation. In “History and Revelation: Critical Access to the Figure of Jesus Christ,” Alfonso Carrasco Rouco shows that the very existence of the New Testament witness has forced scholars to return, after every methodological impasse, to the concrete reality of Jesus. Given the demonstrable continuity between Jesus and the apostolic kerygma, Carrasco argues, such attention to Jesus can become an actual encounter with him in the communion of the Church and, indeed, must become one precisely in order to
satisfy the exigencies of an authentic critical rigor.
Retrieving the Tradition also brings us back to the Incarnation—this time from the point of view of the role of Mary. In “Thoughts on the Place of Marian Doctrine and Piety in Faith and Theology as a Whole,” Joseph Ratzinger shows how Mary is both a member of the Church and the personal embodiment of all that the Church is and hopes to be. Mariology, Ratzinger argues, safeguards the unity of the biological, the personal, and the theological, a unity without which the nature of the Church itself—and, indeed, the nexus mysteriorum as the coherence of creation and redemptive incarnation—would become unintelligible.
Notes and Comments concludes the present issue with two reflections that bring out yet further dimensions of the Incarnation.
In “Creation as a Call to Holiness,” Stratford Caldecott shows how what he calls a “threefold participation”—in God’s creative idea, in the being he gives in actually creating, and in his gift of grace in the Spirit—translates into a vision of the whole cosmos as existing to be recapitulated in the oneness of Christ and so brought into the bosom of the trinitarian life.
Massimo Camisasca’s “Knowing Christ” closes the issue by spelling out concretely the nature, growth, and sustaining practices of the knowledge of Christ in the Church. This knowledge, Camisasca says, is nothing other than the entrance of the whole person into the inexhaustible depths of the incarnate person of Christ himself—an entrance that is also the principle of a new intelligence of all things.
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