Thursday, November 17

Dancing in the Straw

Angels dancing on the head of a pin
So, it has a been a while since I have talked about the formal actions towards ordination. Indeed, I'm not entirely sure if I have spoken about this at all except in the vaguest of terms. A word of warning here, as the following statements could be misread.  I am not antithetical to academics, far from it, but a lack of ready application begs askance towards the intrinsic merit.

As I look more and more at differing programs, it appears so easy to become caught up in a whirlwind of theories, proofs, dogma and -ologies which are all vitally important for any serious candidate for ordination. It seems that anyone who has been called by God must be intimately familar with the ramblings of Rahner, the lectures of Lonergan and the homilies of Heidigger.  One must he hip to the hermeneutics in fashion,  conversant with the Christology du jour and versed in the vocabulary of the devoted elite.

Put in a 14th century context, a postulant must be able to answer (with attendant proofs) the famous question about angels and the head of a pin, as well as give context as to it's importance.  (As an aside, the question deals with the question of perfect, supernal beings existing without form (as pure entities of spirit) or if they have substance.)

Thinking about it brings to mind Aquinas and Dominic.  The first is the Angelic Doctor's famous statement, "All that I have written seems to me like so much straw compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me."  Why would arguably the greatest theologian of all time say this about the theology which he had written? Because he had had a direct, relevatory experience - a brush with the raw and ineffable Divine so incredibly different from the logics and proofs and counterarguments which comprise the Law.

The second is one of the few quotes we have from Dominic de Guzeman, spoken during his time studying theology. There was a famine which struck his city and he sold everything, including his precious books, to give alms to those in need. When questioned about such a rash and foolish gesture for a scholar, he replied,  "Would you have me study off these dead skins, when men are dying of hunger?"

A theologian is one who studies and ponders. That is my default state and something which comes as natural as breathing to me.  A priest is one who works and prays. That is what Dad has asked me to be.  Both have value and those categories are not mutually exclusive.  But quoting Jerome won't comfort a widow, prepare the greiviously ill for a happy death, feed the hungry or clothe the naked and, despite what I would like to become, this is about what She wants and has asked me to do.

My brass-tacks question to any course of study is if it helps one love God and/or love thy neighbour more fully?  If the answer is no, then mayhap there are better things to be doing.

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