Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Father Louis Jean Bouyer (1913 - 2004) (Part 3) What makes fundamental Christian Spirituality, Christian

This is a Part 3 of a multi-part series on Father Louis Jean Bouyer (1913 - 2004) and his book Introduction to Spirituality. Part 4 will post soon.

by James Lannan, Theology II - Saint Paul Seminary


As stated in the last blog, Father Bouyer strongly asserts that the Christian spiritual life is not one dependent on just the indisputable idea that God is personal. Rather, life flows from the fact that God has revealed Himself to us as a person.

Father Bouyer states,

No Christian spirituality worthy of the name can exist where the conviction has been weakened that God, in Christ, has made Himself known to us by His own words, His own acts, as Some One.

This is so core to Christianity that it cannot be asserted enough. The Incarnation is paramount to everything. God speaks to us, mediated by Sacred Scripture, as his living Word, which was made flesh and dwelt among us. Again, it is not merely an idea or a concept. It begins with the deposit of faith! It is real!

A declaration of faith, which Father Bouyer says is "proper to Christianity," is a gift given to us in Christ.

Recall the story of Robinson Crusoe in the last blog. What makes Judaism and Christianity, emerging from Judaism, distinct from any other religion in the world is this dynamic of faith as a verifying dynamic. (Catholicism would further argue Faith & Reason working together.) This does not mean that other world religions are not worthy of Christian concern.

On the contrary, Father Bouyer, as a contributor to the Second Vatican Council, rightly points out that mankind, without the help of Judeo-Christian revelation, has been able to arrive at some certain truths related to Christian truth. Father Bouyer would say it is better to say that these world religions are confirmed and transfigured in Christianity. Yet, only as they are in reference to Christianity, meaning that only part of their beliefs can be confirmed as true.

No matter what, it must be said that Christianity, and Judaism before it, operate on a totally different level than any other world religion. Father Bouyer is very direct about this in his book.

God's revelation in the Old Testament is something completely different with Christ fulfilling the Mosaic Covenant. Father Bouyer points out how Scripture takes on a living dynamic - it is a fact, "no longer an idea — however immense may be the effects that a mere idea can have on the life of man."

As stated before in these blogs, Christ showed up! God showed up! What Father Bouyer is getting at again is that God is a living person in Christ. Without the Incarnation, there is no Christianity.

Father Bouyer relies on the wisdom of a Jewish philosopher named Martin Buber to articulate this point. Jewish theologian and philosopher Martin Buber teaches,

"No one really becomes a person to us except in speaking, in dialogue. Someone to whom you have never spoken and, above all, someone who has never spoken to you, is not a person to you in full reality. A “he” whom you speak about but who does not speak to you or you to him, is not actually someone to you, but only something — even though you force yourself to think otherwise, even though you know, abstractly, that “he” exists, personally, as you do. It is only the “you” to whom I speak who is someone to me, and, shall we say, it is above all the “you” who has spoken to me who becomes someone to me effectively."

The God of Israel, in the Old Testament, and the God of Jesus Christ, in the New Testament, is the one true God. He is the only God who can become to us not only a “He remaining essentially personal, but also a 'you' in full reality." Bouyer captures Buber's reasoning perfectly.

Bouyer goes on to state, "And He is this 'You' above all because he has manifested Himself to us as supremely the “I,” the One Who has not waited to meet us until we should take the first step, but Who has Himself taken the initiative in dialogue between Him and ourselves."

To be continued...

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