Tuesday, March 04, 2008

charism (II)

I really hate those blogs that simply run endless quotations from books and poems and song lyrics. But the following quote from my idol in the world of theology, Hans Urs von Balthasar, is key to my reflections following Fr. Maciel’s death. Please bear with me.

The most important thing about great saints is their mission, a new charism bestowed on the Church by the Holy Spirit. The person who possesses it and bears it, is only the servant of the Spirit, a servant who is weak and unprofitable even to the point of the most sublime achievements in whom the luminous quality is not the person, but the testimony, the task, the office: ‘He himself was not the Light, but he came into the world only to bear witness to the Light.’

All saints, especially they, realize the deficiency in their service to the mission, and one should believe them in what they say so urgently. The chief thing about them is not the heroic personal achievement, but the resolute obedience with which they have given themselves over to being slaves to a mission and understand their entire existence only as a function of and protective covering for this mission.

One should place in the limelight what they themselves want and have to put in the limelight: their mission, their interpretation of Christ and of the Holy Scripture. One should leave in the dark what they themselves want to and must leave in the dark: their paltry personalties. One should attempt, therefore, through their saintly existence, to read and to understand the mission of God to the church. One should try, just as far as one can, to distinguish the salutary and wholesome mission from its deficient realizations. Not in the sense of a separation, since this mission is indeed incarnated precisely in the life, in the deeds and sufferings of the saints, as well as in their persons, history and psychology, and in all the little anecdotes and circumstances which accompany and surround the life of a saint.

Hence, we must distinguish the mission not in an abstraction from what is living, in a conceptualization of what is concrete, in a depersonalization of the uniquely personal, but rather, after the pattern of the phenomenological method which studies the essence, the gestalt, the intelligibile in sensibili, as far as this is humanly attainable. Only here the intelligibile is something supernatural, and its envisioning presupposes a faith, yes, a sharing in the life of holiness.
(from Sisters in Spirit: Theresa de Lisieux and Elizabeth von Dijon, 1970, pp. 20-23)

The Legion of Christ must now, in the opinion of one humble exorcist, thoughtfully and intentionally deepen its own understanding of the charism it has received. The Founder has passed on, but what we were given through him remains. This is not a rejection of the figure of the Founder. It is the ultimate realization of what he himself would have wanted... even when it would have been largely impossible while he lived and breathed among us.

(To be continued...)