Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Week of June 7, 2015

"Faith seeking understanding"--I can't remember exactly whence comes the phrase.  Seems like St. Augustine, but I'm not sure.  (...Nope, I was wrong.  Google says St. Anselm of Cantebury...)  The phrase lures me.  It's an invitation to continue the everyday functions of the mind (the ones we use to maneuver our most basic encounters) amid the realm of our scriptures.  The phrase seems to assume balance in its verbiage.  Here, faith "seeks"; and, that's the point.

I always thought faith was true understanding--"Faith is understanding." The problem with this phrase is that there's no use seeking what we've already found.  I'm a seeker by nature, always have been and always will be.  How about you?  Like with Thomas in one of the gospel stories, a resurrected, hole-y Jesus would meet with an incorrigible doubter were he to spend time with me today.  Trust is a letting-go, indeed, but it seems prudent to seek out that into which we let go completely.
"Heresy!" one may cry.
"That's fair, my faithful friend," say I;
but, my concern lies in the fact that the reasoning with which my faithful friend might make such a judgement is the very reasoning for which I'd be judged in making my judgement (that we should seek out that into which we let go completely).  Are we to shun our everyday, mental resources when we encounter the deeper truths of our mythos, tossing aside the paddles of our vessel in order to sing "merely, life is but a dream"?

"Faith seeking understanding" is a phrase that encourages the search.  The Church, despite her terrible history of snuffing out honest seekers (see pretty much every era of humanity), actually embraces our quest and search for God.  At her best, she has nothing to fear.  At her worst, she is the very thing to be feared.  Even we Reformed catholics (universal churchmen), I'm sorry to say, escaped the burning stake only to stand in its smoky shadow, gazing up in relief as those we deemed heretics burned on our cue.  

For St. Anselm, balance seems to be crucial.  Faith is first, then comes the deeper waters of understanding.  The fine line, in my mind, is the one on which we teeter between a return to the Dark Ages--where faith becomes a blind following and an end in and of itself--on one side and a never-ending black hole of anchor-less-ness, a forever free-fall into a motionless vacuum of fruitless striving on the other side.  With the balance of "faith seeking understanding," maybe we enter this event horizon with an unbreakable anchor.  This anchor gives us the assurance and courage we need to explore the dark depths.  In Jungian terms, we circumvent the mandala in our ongoing process of individuation, never reaching the center; but, we do so AS THE VERY CENTER: the Self.  In our gospel stories, the resurrected Christ embodies that very Self.  Thus, he becomes the very anchor of faith.

This is too complex for me.  All I know is that I'll always ask the question: Does faith add up?  Holding the anchor fast, I'm going to have fun exploring!

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