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.

Friday, June 29, 2012

God's Glory Appears: Missioning and Fulfillment

RESPONDING TO THE GLORY of the Lord as one beholds the theodrama of the Christ-event is to submit, in a person-to Person confrontation, to the command of the Lord. Yet this submission is not the sort of submission that destroys the personality of the person submitting to God. The submission to the command of God in a convenantual pledge which shows itself in participation in the mission of the Son of God, both in his human mission and in his inner Trinitarian relationship, is the height of human fulfillment.

For von Balthasar, human fulfillment consists not in our human knowing and willing Absolute Being, but rather . . . in a personal relationship with the personal Absolute. God is the absolute "Thou" of the human "I," and the unique and irrevocable name by which God calls each person is the seal of that person's dignity. God's missioning name is not something additional to one's identity. . . . In short, it is the perfect, irrevocable, and fulfilling address of the absolute Thou. The questions of personal identity which the tension between the ambivalence and flux of infinite existence and the longing for the absolute now provokes has its adequate answer: in the mission, one's personal name is written on the absolute.

Steck, 87.   Von Balthasar is, like most moderns, keen to preserve human autonomy.  Yet he does not model it in any kind of form independent of God.  Indeed, human autonomy is oxymoronically or perhaps better, paradoxically, found in a human being's personal participation in his unique mission which is attached to the mission of the Lord.  "This unique mission grants individuals their true autonomy."  Steck, 87.  Anything outside of it is, by definition, slavery or heteronomy.

 Gisele Bauche, The Great Commission

There is a "narrative teleology" in man, one that finds fulfillment in submission to the narrative of the Christ-event.  We "see" ourselves, our own drama, within the greater theodrama which the Lord allows us to "see."  Thus we participate in a unique and fulfilling way our own reality:
Christians [are allowed] to see the diverse particularities of their lives as part of the biblical drama: the occasions of their success and failure, their acts of minor heroism and those of unnoted mediocrity, their rebellion against God and their repentance. The story of Christ, the Christians' story, offers a horizon that illuminates the who that Christians are within these fragments of particularity and points them to an identity that they can embrace with all their energy. In embracing the name the Father has given to the Christian in Christ . . . the Christian is moved to do more than put on a costume and memorize a part. In following the currents of the divine will, Christians eagerly engage in the task at hand with all their love and intellect, their passion and creativity. . .
[T]he Christ-event has really become, through the Christians' incorporation in Christ, their story, not just epistemologically (i.e., the lens through which they interpret their lives), as it might seem in some works of narrative ethics, but ontologically, as the fruit of the Spirit's power to "liquefy" the Christ-form, to use von Balthasar's language, by stamping it onto the lives of their followers.
Steck, 88, 89.

It is this drama-within-the-Theodrama that constitutes our "missioning," and this "missioning" is what is at the heart of the Christian ethical life. "The name that God gives the individual is a missioning name; the individual is sent to further the divine plans and hopes for creation by participating in the mission of Christ."  Steck, 92. This mission is Christological. It is eucharistic. It is not self-dissipating, but rather a self-enlarging expansion of one's life into the very heart of Trinitarian love.  And while this missioning participates in Christ's greater mission, it is for that no less personal, unique, or particular.  "The lives of the saints teach us one thing: growth in Christ is not growth into ethical sameness."  Steck, 91.

Yet, by incorporating themselves into the mission of Christ, all the "fragments" of mankind are "harmonized in the light of the divine economy," and it gives them lasting meaning in that they participate in the eternal relationship within the Absolute.  Steck, 91.  "This mission is not an additional task to one's identity; it is the one's name and identity as viewed from a different vantage, that of the Father lovingly beholding creation through his Son."  Steck, 92.

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