I apologize for being a slack blogger over the last week. I had laryngitis and the usual busy-ness rather got on top of me.
On Saturday we celebrated the memorial of St Athanasius, that stalwart defender of Christological orthodoxy. He battled against Arianism and various other heresies, and it struck me while saying Mass on Saturday that the full doctrine of the incarnation is vital not just theologically, but spiritually and in our Eucharistic theology.
Jesus Christ was God from God, light from light, true God from true God. His manhood and his divinity were all of a unity. Every scrap of his humanity was divinized and every part of his Godhead was incarnate.
The heretics had trouble with this and said that Jesus was a man who only seemed to be God, or a god who only seemed to be man. They said he was a man on whom divinity was placed or a man in whom divinity grew and developed. No. The divinity wasn’t just pasted on top of the humanity. It was an integral part of who Jesus was.
So it is with our spirituality. So often we think that our spiritual life is something we sort of paste on top of our sinful humanity. It is something we put on like a cloak. When we believe this we become pious and focus on the outward forms of religion. Or we believe that our spirituality is something that is just a matter of right belief or right doctrine, and that what we do with our bodies doesn’t really matter.
These false spiritualities parallel Christological heresies. Instead we need to see that Christ is working his life in us at every level of our being, in every cell of our bodies, in every moment of our experience, in every relationship, in every decision, in every mental and emotional and physical action or thought or feeling. The Holy Spirit want to take over it all and not just slap on a spiritual happy face, but transform us from the very ground level of our being upwards so that we might be transformed into ‘Christians’–little Christs.
G.K.Chesterton said ‘Every argument is a theological argument’. It’s true. The bogus spiritualities are all, at their heart, Christological heresies. The shallow New Age theologies are forms of Gnosticism. The stupid self help therapies are only Pelagianism dressed up. The Protestant ‘I’m a pile of dung but God puts a layer of snow over me’ theologies are simply a re-hash of Arianism.
You can keep it all. Give me full, red blooded Catholicism. Give me the incarnation–Athanasius’ incarnation, and let me be transformed right down to the very deep and dark and dirty parts of me, for it is ‘here in dust and dirt, O here, that the lilies of Thy love appear.’