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!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Father Louis Jean Bouyer (1913 - 2004) (Part 2)

This is a Part 2 of a multi-part series on Father Louis Jean Bouyer (1913 - 2004) and his book Introduction to Spirituality. Part 3 will post soon.

by James Lannan, Theology II - Saint Paul Seminary


One of the first areas in Father Bouyer's book we should look at is how he lays down the foundations of the "Spiritual Life" in Christianity. We live in an era that strongly divorces the correct notion of the meaning of interior life, spiritual life, religious life, and God. Often times the following comments are posited: "I am spiritual, but not religious;" "I do not adhere to any formal religion" or "you do not have to talk about God in order to be spiritual."

According to Father Bouyer, this current idea of the "Spiritual Life" is somehow very different from the course of the whole of human history. He goes on to explain that when we look at the psychology of the individual, a logical pattern develops from first looking inside oneself to a greater presence. The interior life lends itself to a sense of spirituality which, if developed or shepherded properly, shifts its overall orientation to some sort of acknowledgement that there is a greater power, God. This of course then develops into some sort of religious life.

For example, some of the greatest musicians from the last 50 years openly reject Christianity or any formalized religion. Instead, these great artists have their own quasi-spiritual-interior collage created in their life that is neither reasonable nor totally explainable. They have values, and these values reflect Christian values. Yet, they may rear against systematized and formal religion.

Other creative minds such as poets, writers and painters create beautiful and amazing artistic expressions. They have an "Interior Life" that leads them to go beyond their own boundaries in their creative endeavors. What they share in their career, for example as a musician, is beyond the mathematics and language of music theory behind their music. What they share is their longing to connect with a reality that is beyond all of us and exists separate from us. This truly is a longing for God, rather than an artistic expression benign of any salvific meaning.

When a human being is at his best is when he identifies and seeks to know the sacred mysteries of God. Artistic expression founded in the Good is what inspires us most.

And that is the thing about Christianity and its Spirituality; Bouyer explains that our most intimate and interior longings are truly a relationship with God "in His transcendent reality which is fully recognized and formally cultivated."

This can tell us one reason why God's special Covenant with Israel is so essential. Christianity, emerging from Judaism, is a faith that is focused on, as Bouyer says, "the full development of a life which is wholly human and at the same time wholly personal, in the dicovery of a God Who is not only Himself a person, but the personal being par excellence."

God is personally known in Christ! He reveals Himself to us this way. God makes Himself known, in Christ, by His living Word. Father Bouyer is very specific on this fact. Furthermore, His living Word became flesh and lived among us (Phil 2:6-11). Christianity is not a God-concept. Rather, as Bouyer teaches us, it begins from faith in that Jesus is both human and divine; a person, a gift given to us in Christ.

Father Bouyer uses the great story by author Daniel Defoe, "Robinson Crusoe," as a comparison in supporting his lesson:

Robinson Crusoe is shipwrecked, stranded alone on an empty island. Right from the start he felt isolated and alone. However, he began to notice evidence of another - another someone - suggesting he may not be alone.

He found the remnants of a fire he did not make and footprints in the sand where he did not walk. It is here where Father Bouyer explains that Crusoe is the image of a man who is reflecting on the world he lives in and, discovers that some one, some person, like himself also exists. In life that some one is God! God exists and he is not some thing. Rather, He is some one.

Crusoe is walking right towards the best and truest point to which religion can lead him. Now in the story it is Friday who Crusoe eventually sees on the beach. Now Crusoe's instincts and reasoning have been supported by fact.

Well the same is true of Christianity, Father Bouyer says. God is "supremely personal, the inter-personal, fact of His revelation. He is known, more precisely, in the personal relationship which His own initiative in coming to meet us, and this alone, is the process of establishing… [a Covenant with Israel]."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can you fit any more pictures into a post?

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