Aug 10, 2011
Christian discipleship in its very origin and essence is synonymous with a dynamic movement from self to the beauty of Christ:
Were not the disciples first transported by what they saw, heard, and touched and by everything that Christ manifested in his very person? What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with out hands concerns the Word of life . . . . We write this to make our joy complete (1Jn 1).
St. Bonaventure writes about this excessus of faith–being drawn out of ourselves by being overpowered by beauty at all levels (Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord, II:335).
A full, active, and lively Catholic faith consists not primarily in believing a series of tenets, proved by the intellect, and then believed. Without this dynamic movement toward Christ, faith as a series of truths remains unpersuasive, formalistic, dry and without unction.
Nor is faith simply a matter of doing good. Without this dynamic movement toward the beauty of Christ, a full, active, and lively faith loses its attractiveness and is questioned as to why it should be done. In fact, doing good deeds can remain hedonistic and utilitarian, stuck on the horizontal and natural plane.
Prompted by God’s grace, a full and complete faith is a contemplative transport of the heart, and without this movement that goes out from self toward the Beloved, the object of beauty, the experience of faith remains woefully incomplete. Together with truth and goodness, contemplation, especially in prayer, has always been, and continues to be, an essential part of Catholic faith.