Thesis Extract: ‘The Role of Humanity in Creation’

 David Russell Mosley

Commemoration of Bridget of Sweden, Abbess of Vadstena, 1373
23 July 2013
Beeston, Nottinghamshire

Dear Friends and Family,

Here is another brief extract from the second chapter of my thesis on Creation and deification. I hope you enjoy.

The Role of Humanity in Creation

Creation of Eve

This brings us to role and place of humanity in creation. We will discuss more fully in the section below humanity being made in the image and likeness of God and how nascent humanity was both to serve as priest and to await its deifier. Here, however, we should look at the priestly role of humanity from creation’s point of view. That is, that creation is incomplete without humanity.

John Paul II writes, ‘So the very sacramentality of creation, the sacramentality of the world was revealed in a way, in man created in the image of God.’1 The world is revealed, in a sense to itself, in humanity. Since in creation, only humanity can accept creation as a gift, it is clear that humanity completes, in a qualified sense, creation. If we accept that God creates in order to deify, in order to return all things into himself, as argued above, then we must ask how this is to take place. For Maximus, it takes place through humanity’s interconnectivity and kinship to all creation:

For humanity clearly has this power of naturally uniting at the mean point of each division since it is related to the extremities of each division in its own parts. Through that capacity it can come to be the way of fulfilment of what is divided and be openly instituted in itself as the great mystery of the divine purpose. It proceeds harmoniously to each of the extremities in the things that are, from what is close at hand to what is remote, from what is worse to what is better, lifting up to God and fully accomplishing union. For this reason the human person was introduced last among beings, as a kind of natural bond mediating between the universal poles through their proper parts, and leading into unity in itself those things that are naturally apart from one another by a great interval.(Amb. 41.1305B-C).

What Maximus is arguing is that humans by being both material and spiritual have within them an aspect of every part of creation. This allows humanity to serve as a bridge between the material and the spiritual. A bridge that will unite the two realms, allowing all to return to God. Maximus goes on to say that the way Humanity effects this union by shaking off hindrances (like sexual difference) and seeks union with the undivided God. This unifies heaven and earth in the human person (Amb. 41.1305 C- D). Then, by attaining angelic knowledge humans unite the intellectual and the sensible (Amb. 41.1308A). Finally,

And finally, beyond all these, the human person unites the created nature with the uncreated through love (O the wonder of God’s love for human beings!), showing them to be one and the same through the possession of grace, the whole [creation] wholly interpenetrated by God, and become completely whatever God is, save at the level of being, and receiving to itself the whole of God himself, and acquiring as a kind of prize for its ascent to God the most unique God himself, as the end of movement of everything that moves toward it, and the firm unmoved rest of everything that is carried towards it, being the undetermined and infinite limit and definition of every definition and law and ordinance, of reason and mind and nature (Amb. 41.1308 B-C).

Thus, the human person in one sense deifies creation through its own deification. Just as Christ’s having deified his humanity reached through to all humanity,2 so that deification reaches to all creation, ‘except to the level of being.’ ‘[B]y being divinized, the world is perfected as world.’3 We have begun to encroach on an important aspect here, however, that I will deal with more fully below and in the fourth chapter. For now, however, note that just as creation, if its end is a return to God, cannot effect that end on its own without humanity, so too, humanity cannot affect that change on its own.

 

1 John Paul II, The Theology of the Body: Human Love in the Divine Plan (Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 1997), 76.

page2image19840

2 Gregory of Nazianzus Theological Oration  30.21.

3 Hans Urs von Balthasar, Cosmic Liturgy: The Universe According to Maximus the Confessor (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2003), 257.

 

Sincerely yours,
David Russell Mosley

Advertisements

A Day in the Life of PhD in Theology

Dear Friends and Family,

It had been on my mind for a while to do a post on what a day usually looks like for me and then just yesterday a gentleman named Nic told me he would be interested in hearing about my daily schedule. Well, here it is:

05:00

My alarm goes off, I role out of bed, wash my face and hair, shave, wax my moustache, and get dressed.

I always lay out my clothes the night before.

I always lay out my clothes the night before.

Beard and Moustache Station

Beard and Moustache Station

Getting Dressed Part 1

Getting Dressed Part 1

05:30

I then head into the Study to do my morning reading. I begin by reading Scripture and Praying (using the Church of England’s Website to help guide my prayers). After I’ve read and prayed, I move from my desk to my armchair and do the rest of my morning reading and journaling. Sometimes, I start with a selection from a spiritual master. Right now, I’m reading through Augustine’s Sermons for Liturgical Seasons. Then I write in my journal, usually a prayer or just some thoughts I have. After journaling, I pull out one of my research books and my research journal and read a chapter or so out of it. Then, if there’s time, I read a little something for fun. Lately that has been a Father Brown Story from G. K. Chesterton and a chapter or two from the Lord of the Rings.

Books and Journals from Last Friday

Books and Journals from Last Friday

07:00

Once I’ve finished my reading, Lauren usually gets up and starts making breakfast while I finish getting dressed. Then we sit down, eat, and usually watch part of a show together.

Getting Dressed Part 2

Getting Dressed Part 2

Breakfast

Breakfast

07:30-07:45

After breakfast, I finish packing up my things and head out to the office.

Heading to the Office

Heading to the Office

08:00

Once I get to the office I set up my desk and begin working. Usually, I read and take notes for a few hours until lunchtime. My reading during this time is more of what I was reading in the morning and then, sometimes, chapters out of books I’m not going to read in full or journal articles.

Work Station

Work Station

Reading
Reading

Writing

Writing

12:00

Then I eat lunch and usually watch a video from the department’s Why Study Series: (which usually ends up leading to a post on here).

12:30 or 13:00

After lunch I do a bit more reading. Right now, I’ve been reading some poetry from Pope John Paul II before getting back into my research. I try to read as broadly as I can, I find that it really helps when I write that I’ve read such a diversity of genre. Also, sometimes, after lunch I go for a walk around the lake.

Contemplation and Pipe Smoking Go Well Together

Contemplation and Pipe Smoking Go Well Together

After my walk, I come back, do more reading, and sometimes some heavy writing. I try to write something most days. Sometimes, like today, it’s a blog post, other times it’s a couple hundred words on the chapter I’m writing.

15:00

By the late afternoon, if I don’t have a seminar to attend or a class I’m sitting in on, I pack up my things and head home. Once I get home, I usually change into some workout clothes and do my afternoon exercises. (Sorry, I’ve not got any pictures of me in workout clothes, you’ll just have to imagine it.) After I work out, I grab and shower and then go back into the study to read some more fiction before dinner.

18:00

Once dinner’s ready Lauren and I either sit down at the dinner table and eat and chat or we sit down at the coffee table and eat, chat, and watch a show/movie. Lately, we’ve been watching the Vampire Diaries, an interesting, albeit girl-oriented, show about vampires (we were both suckers for Buffy and Angel back in the day).

20:30-21:00

As we wind down our day, Lauren and I get ready for bed. Since Lauren’s never read the Chronicles of Narnia before, we’re currently reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe together. After we’ve read a chapter or two of it, Lauren roles over and goes to sleep. If I have any energy left, I usually grab whatever fiction book I’m reading (The Two Towers at the moment) and read until I’m too tired to carry on.

22:00

By no later to ten, it’s lights out for me and to sleep before another day of reading and writing.

Well, that’s a pretty general day in my life. Perhaps not overly exciting, but it suits me well enough. Hopefully, in the near future, things like gardening and more walks will make their way into my routine. For now, we’re still stuck with snow and ice.

I hope you’re all well.

Yours,
David