Friday, 15 November 2013

Wisdom - thoughts on the Magnificat readings Thursday 14th November

"Life is effort, firm and persevering action, and duty accepted and accomplished, the heroic conquest of the body by the soul, the serenity nothing can disturb, and eyes fixed on God. It is charity taking possession of us little by little, banishing everything that is not love."
Elisabeth Leseur

"Within Wisdom is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, active, incisive, unsullied, lucid, invulnerable, benevolent, sharp, irresistible, beneficent, loving to man, steadfast, dependable, unperturbed, almighty, all-surveying; penetrating all intelligent, pure and most subtle spirits; for Wisdom is quicker to move than any motion; she is so pure, she pervades and permeates all things. She is a breath of the power of God, pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; hence nothing impure can find a way into her. She is a reflection of the eternal light, untarnished mirror of God's active power, image of his Goodness. Although alone, she can do all; herself unchanging, she makes all things new.
In each generation she passes into holy souls, she makes them friends of God and the prophets; for God loves only the man who lives with Wisdom....compared with light, she takes first place, for light must yield to night, but over Wisdom evil can never triumph. She deploys her strength from one end of the earth to the other, ordering all things for good."
Wisdom 7:22 -8:1

"This thing is the strongest of all powers, the force of all forces, for it overcometh every subtle thing and doth penetrate every solid substance." Tabula Smaragdina, 9

"The sun, moon and stars therefore lend their assistance to acts of divine magic aspiring to the Resurrection."
Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot

To co-operate with Wisdom is to allow our lives to become works of art dedicated to God. To become mindful through constant prayer and adoration of the source of our being, to thank God for everything that comes to us, is the first step in allowing our nature to be penetrated with Wisdom.

The reward is serenity nothing can disturb; the path begins with daily perseverance, the conquest of the body by the soul. The spiritual law of renunciation enables these fruits to appear. When we renounce something below, we gain something above. This is nothing more than obedience, which brings the unfallen aspect of our nature - the image of God within us - into alignment with the divine purpose.

The words of the Virgin speak to us here: 'Ecce ancilla domini fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum'. Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord, Let it be done to me according to your Word.

In the Orthodox Church this process is known as theosis - or deification. Irenaeus says: "the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who did, through his transcendent love, become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself."

The quotations above from the book of Wisdom and elsewhere give some sense of how this process might occur. Wisdom, or force, as the Tabula Smaragdina would have it, overcomes all subtle things and penetrates every solid substance, quicker than any motion, pure emanation of the glory of God, reflection of eternal light, in which is nothing impure, enfolds all things and allows even the violent wrenching of things out of their own place which is the Fall to occur without allowing this discordancy to overtake the harmony of Her song. Indeed she takes up these clashing notes and makes them a part of a higher music.

In prayer and contemplation we aim to still the ceaseless disturbance of our thoughts, to become like the sea of glass around the throne of God. Contemplation is thus to participate in the imitatio christi, to crucify our will, that the Will of God may work through us. If we say this no to the lower desires which threaten to sweep us away in the currents of evolution and biological life, we say yes to a higher form of life. This participation in what Tomberg calls zoe rather than bios (both Greek words for life, but the latter having the sense of spiritual life) is to reject a Nietszchean self-assertion which sees creation as the imposing of self in a violent act and to recognise it for what it is - disobedience to the real creation narrative, which is one of harmony and peace.

There have been few greater exponents of this insight in literature than J R R Tolkien, especially in his work the Ainulindale. It is theology, myth, literature, true sub-creation in one. A creation myth of the highest order. The work of Alison Milbank (Radical Orthodoxy) and the website of Jonathan Macintosh, The Flame Imperishable, are excellent places to draw the connections between all these things.

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