Friday, August 01, 2014

"But amid the flow of words that was my theological education at the Gregorian [seminary], there were also reminders--only occasional but daunting--about the limitations of words and of the human reasoning behind them.  We heard such reminders of Mystery in our courses on spiritual theology, when we studied the Christian mystics.  For me, mystics like Dionysius the Areopagite, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart, Julian of Norwich became mental gadflies as I listened to professors expound profusely in other courses 'On the Triune God,' 'On the Incarnate Word,' 'On the Last Things.'  Over the growing mass of my theological knowledge, there hovered the admonition of the mystics: all that can be known of God is by far surpassed, and must be held in check, by what is not and cannot be known of God. ... And herein lies the rub, which I felt already in those early years, but which later became an even greater spiritual and intellectual irritant: how do I hold together all the certain knowledge I have as a theologian and am supposed to affirm as a believer with what I have increasingly felt, and what the Magisterium has even defined, as the utter mystery and incomprehensibility of God?  The sad reality, and the source of my struggles, is that we haven't held them together.  In theological classrooms, from Sunday morning pulpits, in catechism class, we Christians all too often do not respect the necessary balance between knowledge and incomprehensibility, between our human words and divine Mystery.  We talk too much.  Or, we're not careful of the way we talk.  And so our words end up as shackles on the rich, unfathomable Mystery of God."

--Paul F. Knitter, Without Buddha I Could not be a Christian


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