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Mystagogy: The Rod, The Root, and the Flower, pt II


Faith is the light of the flame of love.

Continuing my scattered commentary (pt 1 here) on parts from Patmore Coventry's The Rod, the Root, and the Flower. The quote above is from the final section of the book, "Aphorisms and Extracts" added posthumously by Patmore's son. Another of these Extracts sums up well the theme of Coventry's theme:
God, in whose image we were made,
Let me not be afraid
To trace Thy likeness in what best we are.
And this nicely sums up what Stratford Caldecott noticed as Prelude thoughts to the Theology of the Body:
God has declared to his His mystic rapture in His Marriage with Humanity in twice saying, 'Hic est Filius meus dilectus in quo bene complacui'. [This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased] He expressly and repeatedly calls this marriage, and pronounces the marriage of Man and Woman to be its symbol. This is the burning heart of the Universe.
A few more from the first section, "Aurea Dicta"
CX - The great secrets of life lie too far within, not too far beyond, our mental focus to be seen. Philosophy consists in limiting the focus, not in extending it.
I have suspected that I've become quite guilty of this, perhaps even my own mystagogy reading program. Too much time reading commentaries, theology, and treatises on prayer, not enough time with Jesus Christ in Scripture and prayer, themselves. It also reminds me of the advice from the Dessert Fathers:
Joseph asked Poemen, “Tell me how to become a monk.” He said, “If you want to find rest in this life and the next, say at every moment, ‘Who am I?’ and judge no one.”
In asking, "who am I?" I go within, what are my sins, what is my relationship with God. The seed and the seedling must receive water and sunlight long before it bears fruit.
CXXXIX - The Worthiest occupation of the Wise, in these days, is to 'dig again the wells which the Philistines have filled.'
A call to ressourcement in its own way. I tend to find more of the ring of truth in Catholic authors who look to the Fathers of the Church, or at least have a Thomist background, much moreso in the Church Fathers themselves and the Doctors of the Church. Then in those ancient writers (yet always new) their obvious searching of the Scriptures for Wisdom, again, it brings forth the above self-criticism ... not enough time with Scripture and the Font of Wisdom himself.
CLV - 'Taste and see that the Lord is sweet.' Taste or touch discerns substance. 'It is,' says Aristotle, 'a sort of sight', with this difference that it is infallible.
I can only imagine that Patmore is speaking to some kind of experiential discernment rather than passive perception. Apprehension versus comprehension. Bite deep of the bread of life, drink deep of the cup of salvation. Taste! Go out into the deep!

From, "Knowledge and Science"
I - In His union and conjunction with Body, God finds His final perfection and felicity. 'It is not written that He has taken hold of any of the angels; but of us He has taken hold.' [Heb 2:16] 'Deliciae meae esse cum filiis hominum.' ['My delights were to be with the children of men.', Douay-Rheims, Proverbs 8:31] The great prophecy, 'Man shall be compassed by a woman', [Jer 31:22] was fulfilled when Jesus Christ made the body, which He had taken from Mary, actually divine by the subdual of its last recalcitrance upon the Cross. The celestial marriage, in which, thenceforward, every soul that choose could participate, was then consummated. 'Consummatum est', and the Body became—
Creation's and Creator's crowning good;
Wall of infinitude;
Foundation of the sky,
In Heaven forecast
And long'd for from eternity,
Though laid the last.
One of Patmore's repeated themes in this section is that Protestants lost (particularly in the more Puritanical strains), and Catholicism is in danger of losing a full sense of the Incarnation and what it means for our own bodies. He ascended into heaven. including his Body. The body has become a thing divine and dwells in eternal beatitude through Christ. As I read somewhere (probably Kreeft) about sexuality, you don't make rules for things we don't care about, you make rules and boundaries for the things we care about the most. The discipline of the Body, asceticism, isn't necessary and promoted by the Church because she hates the body, but because the Body of the Lord makes our own bodies the means to our salvation, for it is through our flesh that we participate in the flesh of Christ. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Cor 6:19-20)
VIII - If we would find in God that full satisfaction of all our desires which He promises, we must believe extravagantly, i.e. as the Church and the Saints do; and must not be afraid to follows the doctrine of the Incarnation into all its natural consequences. Those who fear to call Mary the 'Mother of God' simply do not believe in the Incarnation at all; but we must go further, and believe His word when he rebuked the people for regarding her as exclusively His Mother, declaring that every soul who received Him with faith and love was also, in union wither Her, His Mother, the Bride of the Holy Spirit. We must not be afraid to believe that this Bride and Mother, with whom we are identified, is 'Regina Coeli', as well as 'Regina Mundi'; and that this Queen of Heaven and Earth is simply a pure, natural woman; and that one of our own race, and each of us, in union with her, has been made 'a little lower than the angels', in order to be 'crowned with honour and glory' far beyond the honour and glory of the highest of His purely spiritual creatures. 'It is not written that He has taken hold (or united Himself) with any of the angels'; but of the lowest of His spiritual creatures, who alone is also flesh, 'He has taken hold'; and the Highest has found His ultimate and crowning felicity in a marriage of the flesh as well as the Spirit; and in this infinite contrast and intimacy of height with depth and spirit with flesh He, who is very Love, finds, just as ordinary human love does, it's final rest and the full fruition of its own life; and the joy of angels is in contemplating, and sharing by perfect sympathy with humanity, that glory which humanity alone actually possesses. This, the literal doctrine of the Church and the Scriptures, sounds preposterous in the ears of nearly all 'Christians' even; and yet its actual truth has been realised, even in this life, as something fare more than a credible promise, by those who have received the message of their Angel with somewhat of the faith of Mary, and to each of whom it has been said: 'Blessed art thou because thou hast believed; for there shall be a performance of the things which have been promised to thee.' Let Christians leave off thinking of the Incarnation as a thing past, or a figure of speech, and learn to know that it consists for them in their becoming the intimately and humanly beloved of a divine and yet human Lover; and His local paradise and heaven of heavens.
The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature": "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God." "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 460)

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