Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Monday, May 28, 2012

God's Glory Appears: The Trinity at the Heart of It

WHEN WE ARE DEALING WITH person-to-person relations, there is a dynamism to be found in the encounter which distinguishes it from a person-to-thing relation.  One moves from a static response to beauty (or glory) to a dynamic interpenetrative response, from "iconic" aesthetics to "dramatic aesthetics" or "theo-dramatic aesthetics," from an "I-Thou" encounter to a "We" encounter.  In such person/beauty-to-person/beauty contact, the "perceived form" of the other is so multivalent that it involves "various parts of our lives (e.g., temporal, personal, vocational, social), illuminating different features and aspects in a manner than cannot be summed us as a single interchange."  Steck, 34-35.  At root, such person-to-person encounter is Trinitarian.

Von Balthasar's thought is intimately Trinitarian, and his view of the Trinity is deeply attached to Christ's revelation.  For von Balthasar, the "economic Trinity"--which is what revealed in the salvific economy of God as found in Christ's mission--reveals the very life of the Trinity itself, i.e., the "immanent Trinity."  Von Balthasar is "resolute[ly] committed" to the Rahnerian "axiom that the econcomic trinity truly reveals, is, the immanent trinity." Streck, 36.  They are equivalent.  What this means is that "the form of the Son's earthly relationship with the Father is itself a revelation of the Eternal Word's procession from the Father." 

Christ's relationship with the Father as witnessed in the Gospel, then, is a revelation of what it means when we say, "God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father." The relationship between Christ and the Father in the Gospels, "was not an anthropomorphic mask assumed for a time and later discarded in the course of salvation history."  Steck, 36-37.  It is this relationship that reveals, that is, the intertrinitarian love that exists between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the three-persons-in-one-God-love.

The three-persons-in-one-God we call the Trinity involves an eternal relationship between three hypostases, three "subject-centers of free acts."  It involves the mutual surrender of these three "subject-centers of free acts," which gives rise eternally to three "areas of infinite freedom" which at the same time are shared one with the other so that "each of the persons of the Trinity has that person's own mode of participating in the one freedom and subjectivity of the Godhead."  Steck, 37.

An analogy of this interpersonal love found in the Trinity is found in interpersonal relationships among human persons, and so we may learn of the internal workings of the Trinity, albeit it in an analagous manner, by experiencing interpersonal relationships (communio) and then extending that communio eminently to understand the interpersonal relationships between and among the three persons of the Trinity.  In other words, in looking and by looking at the "mutual encounter of finite freedoms" of human persons, and eliminating all that is attributed to finiteness and temporality, we distill out, as it were, an understanding of what relationship occurs within the Trinity Himself, the "mutual encounter of infinite freedoms."  Though Steck does not avert to it, this appears to be the realm of natural theology.

Understanding this aspect of the Trinity is important to understanding von Balthasar's ethical theory.  "If intradivine love is a or even the formative image of our understanding of the ethical life, we do well to reflect on what images might serve it best."  Steck, 38. 

This wonderful relationship between the persons of the Godhead is best revealed in the relationship of the Son to the Father, which is what is revealed to us in the earthly visage of God as Christ walked among men.  It is to that revelation as contained in the Gospels to which we now turn.

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