Wednesday, September 07, 2016

The Spirit Of The Liturgy: Chapter 2

Ratzinger begins by saying that a false opposition between history and cosmos has often been supposed, and an implicit critique of Christianity is that it is too linear. Acknowledging that the relation between Creator and creation is closer than some people might suppose, he nevertheless points out that God is absolutely distinct from what he has created. Recalling that primitive notions had man at the center of a kind of circle of need between man and the gods, Ratzinger affirms an aspect of such a view: that humanity is meant for union with God.

Ratzinger says that a cyclical notion of exitus-reditus ("Everything came from God, and is returning to God") is common in all religions, but Christianity is distinct, in that creation is regarded as an unqualified good. Humanity benefits from the journey back to God in the chance to obtain redemption from sin. Indeed, creation is the theater for the covenant of love between God and man. In fact, creation exists for this purpose. So, just as God created in full freedom and love, man is meant for a restored relationship in that same freedom and love. Freedom is what maintains the distinction between the creation and the Creator, though it is all destined to be divinized; that is, brought under God's control.

We can see the beauty of the Incarnation here, only lightly referred to here by Ratzinger, because the Word Himself comes to restore wayward humanity, and lead them back to God. He had previously wondered how sacrifice would function, if the goodness of creation would not seem to abide apparent destruction. Thus, we begin to see the free self-offering of love as a ready solution to that dilemma.

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