mystery

“Love is an endless mystery, because there is no reasonable cause that could explain it.”
Rabindranath Tagore

(Moses by Michelangelo / Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli /Rome / Julie Cook 2018)

“A sculptor who wishes to carve a figure out of a block uses his chisel,
first cutting away great chunks of marble, then smaller pieces,
until he finally reaches a point where only a brush of hand is needed
to reveal the figure. In the same way, the soul has to undergo
tremendous mortifications at first, and then more refined detachments,
until finally its Divine image is revealed.
Because mortification is recognized as a practice of death,
there is fittingly inscribed on the tomb of Duns Scotus**, Bis Mortus; Semel Sepultus
(twice died, but buried only once).
When we die to something, something comes alive within us.
If we die to self, charity comes alive;
if we die to pride, service comes alive;
if we die to lust, reverence for personality comes alive;
if we die to anger, love comes alive.”

Fulton J. Sheen, p. 219
An Excerpt From
Peace of Soul
(**John Duns OFM, commonly called Duns Scotus, was a Scottish Catholic priest
and Franciscan friar, university professor, philosopher, and theologian.
He is one of the three most important philosopher-theologians of
Western Europe in the High Middle Ages, together with
Thomas Aquinas and William of Ockham. Wikipedia)

So the other day I posted one of my more short and sweet offerings…
When time is scarce, I rely on a good picture and a couple,
of what I think to be, pointed quotes.
Most often the quotes offered are by the Saints, Christian theologians,
Christian authors and or Christian mystics.

And so it was on a recent day when I posted a quote by C. S. Lewis:
“In the old days, when there was less education and discussion,
perhaps it was possible to get on with a very few simple ideas about God.
But it is not so now. Everyone reads, everyone hears things discussed.
Consequently, if you do not listen to Theology,
that will not mean that you have no ideas about God.
It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones—bad,
muddled, out-of-date ideas. For a great many of the ideas about God
which are trotted out as novelties today are simply
the ones which real Theologians tried centuries ago and rejected.”

C. S. Lewis, p. 155
An Excerpt From
Mere Christianity

that I received the following comment:

“In the old days, when there was less education and discussion,”

This was true in regards to both theological and knowledge of everything
but I believe that is the only part the great writer Lewis got
right in this quote.

Theology has not changed, the stories and traditions are basically
exactly the same today but likely more complicated than when they
were created but the general knowledge of our world has
increased dramatically.

We have the massive advancement in both scientific knowledge
and increased educational opportunities that have accumulated mostly
over the last two hundred years, this has cost all religions dearly
in a decline of power especially in first world industrialised countries.

As there is now more freedom of thought there are answers
that explain what we experience in the light of reality without
any supernatural input.

Well, I’ve not had a chance to respond to this particular commenter but
thought I could maybe take a little time now in order to do so…

The picture above is a marble statue carved using the famed Carrara marble
of Carrara, Italy. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrara_marble)

The statue was carved by the famed Italian artist Michelangelo…
a statue of Moses that was to adorn the one-day tomb of Pope Julius II.

Pope Julius and Michelangelo had quite the love-hate relationship.
It was this same Pope that sent his guards to bring back the
run-away artist who tried to skip out on his Sistine Chapel project…
but I digress.

Isn’t this just an amazing piece of craftsmanship?
Do you see the veins and tendons in the muscular arm of Moses?


(Julie Cook / 2018)


(Julie Cook 2018)

When I was in Girl Scouts, we were given a bar of soap and were to use our
trusty Girl Scout knife in order to carve something out of the soap.

Despite my grandiose hopes of carving out a bear, I think I managed to
have a whittled pile of soap shavings.

So to be able to see something in a massive chunk of rock and to then,
with only hands, hammer and chisel–with no modern electric or technological
assistance in order to bring forth “life” is, to me, simply amazing.

It is a gift.
Not a rote learned skill…
Now whereas it does indeed take skill to be such a craftsman,
it also takes much more.
It takes vision…seeing that which lies within…
And it also takes something that borders upon the mystical.

Life breathed into a handful of dust….

So our friend’s comment today speaks of both knowledge and understanding.
Noting that each one has more or less come steamrolling in within the
last 200 some odd years…but I dare say it all really took off during
the day’s of Michelangelo…the age of the Renaissance…
and by gosh, it hasn’t dared stop to look back.
Think the Age of Reason…the Age of Enlightenment…
The Industrial Revolution…Post Modernism, Post Christianity…

Whereas we greatly pride our 21st century selves on our breadth,
depth and scope of knowledge…there are, contrary to popular belief,
a few truths that remain…despite man’s dire
attempts to counter it all with his / her hubris and arrogance.

“Supernatural input” our friend notes.

Yet, despite the argument that we are so advanced and now know
all there is to know, there actually remain certain truths…

Take Biology for instance…
I would think Biology is one said truth.

Male.
Female.
Egg.
Sperm.
Conception.
Birth.
Life.
Death.

And yet, therein lies the mystery.

Conception / birth / life / death…

Sure there are miscues and misfires.

There are anomalies.
There are exceptions
There are mysteries.

But that does not diminish the truth.

Male.
Female.
Conception.
Birth.
Life.
Death.

Our friend speaks of a “freedom of thought giving way to answers that explain
what we experience in light of our reality…”

Hummmm.

Thought does not necessarily equate to reality…does it?

This particular individual speaks of the supernatural no longer being necessary…
but if it is “super” as well as natural…then is that not a mystery in itself?
That which remains rooted in that of the unknown?

And so as I consider today’s quote by Archbishop Fulton Sheen,
I marvel.
Our lives are not so readily written off as compartmentalized
reason now are they?

“When we die to something, something comes alive within us.
If we die to self, charity comes alive;
if we die to pride, service comes alive;
if we die to lust, reverence for personality comes alive;
if we die to anger, love comes alive…”

10 comments on “mystery

  1. atimetoshare.me says:

    So simple yet so complex

  2. I love Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. He had profound faith, profound insights, and profound compassion plus a powerful way of conveying complex ideas in simple terms.

  3. Lynda says:

    Julie, you have responded well to your commenter. There is much mystery that human minds cannot comprehend. Who would dare to say that they can understand God?
    I used to watch Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen as a child. I loved watching him and listening to him. He was my first introduction to Catholicism.
    Hope all is going well with you. Blessings.

    • Every time I write about Fulton Sheen, I think about you.
      We are doing well…busy with the house and the kids…
      How about you? Finished with that degree yet?
      Hope all is well in Toronto!!!
      and I’m happy knowing you’re still out there Lynda 🙂

  4. oneta hayes says:

    Enjoyed my lesson with you today. I do question Sheen’s last conclusion “die to anger, love comes alive.” If that is true, I need a turn around. I’m not having any overt hissy-fits, but I am so angry about some situations! How can one not be angry about the drug dealing, sex trafficking, child beating, etc that abounds? Controlled anger goes hand and glove with love in many situations involving good and evil. I would say “die to anger, and lethargy abounds.”

  5. oneta hayes says:

    I thought you would, Deep Thinker. 😀

  6. hatrack4 says:

    If you ever have a chance to drive the Columbia River Gorge, travel east past The Delles (spell?) and you come to a bridge that goes to the Washington side of the river. There is a Quaker village at the bottom of the hill established by Sam HIll (of “What in the Sam Hill?!” fame – meaning that in his country stores, you could find just about anything – if you could find it in the mess of everything else), at the fork in the road, you can turn right to see a replica of Stonehenge, built by the Hills to commemorate the World War I loses from the area. BUT, if you turn left at the fork, you come to the Mary Hill museum, all of it within a couple of minutes of each other. In the basement, they have a couple of statues of Rodin, and some small mock ups of others. The interesting thing is the miniatures of one of his famous statues in every stage of development, showing how he created a mold in miniature, then cast a bronze version, all before he increased the size to what everyone else sees today. If he was going to screw something up, he was going to do so on the small scale. It was fascinating. I have been there in the mid 90s (several times) and in the 2000-teens (once while in Oregon on a business trip). The exhibit is always changing, but they always had a lot about Rodin.

    • Oh my gosh— several years ago we flew into Portland and drove along the river to the Dells (so) had lunch then drove up to timberline lodge in Mt Hood— I wish I had known about these other treasures!!!

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