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"Each One of Us is an Icon of the Beginning"

Unity in Diversity: a definition of being.

This is an attempt to show a fruit in the thought of the Second Vatican Council's witness to the relevance to our time of the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity.  In the Pastoral Constitution On The Church In The Modern World, the fathers of the Council say: 'the Lord Jesus, when praying to the Father "that they may all be one ... even as we are one" (Jn. 17: 21-22), has opened up new horizons closed to human reason by implying that there is a certain parallel between the union existing among the divine persons and the union of the sons of God in truth and love'531.  The aspect of this which seems to be so relevant to this discussion is their perception of the parallel between the communion of the Blessed Trinity and the community of 'the sons of God in truth and love.'

This quotation led to three things.  Firstly, the sons of God in truth and love are a particular instance - perhaps the fullest expression - of the work of God which is a fulfilment of when 'God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them' (Gn 1: 27).  Secondly, the fathers of the Council are saying that this parallel 'has opened up new horizons for human reason.'  In other words, this parallel has opened up a vision for reason which can only be seen through a reasonable reflection upon Revelation.  Finally, this gift to human reason was given by Jesus Christ when He prayed to the Father on the eve of His Paschal Mystery.  This gift must therefore be incredibly precious and necessary for us.

The question that begins to take shape and which has been influenced by many people is this: does human being imitate the Divine Being?  But we know from Revelation that man is made in the image of God and, therefore, it is necessary to reformulate the question in such a way that it will inevitably anticipate the answer to which one comes: Does the Blessed Trinity, 'the transcendent Exemplar of unity-in-diversity'532, create a mirror image of itself in the structure of human being?  This formulation of the question is particularly indebted to Fr. Richard Conrad OP., as indeed is the following point, which as it were comes from the very title of his dissertation: one can either consider the individual human being or one can consider the human being in its fullest simplicity, the human being of the man and the woman together.  It may be that in restricting myself to the former I am prejudging this enquiry; however, if that is the case then maybe one can return to the second possibility in this or a subsequent discussion.

Now I wish to state very simply the influence of a number of other authors and, in so far as I am able, the thinking through which their thoughts indicate.

A contemporary discussion

My first thoughts on this subject and on many others could well have begun with a comment made by Fr. John Redford in his Introducing Theology, when he says in the section on Faith and Reason: 'de Lubac could argue, in Christ there are two orders of being, Christ's divine and human natures.  But these do not exist separately, only together in one person the Word made flesh'533.

Dr. Francis Clark raised the question in a different way when he wrote of 'the secret of the Creator': how 'the material universe ... receives created existence from the creative action, how it stands out from nothingness, or how it continues to draw its substantial being from the Source of all being'534.  Thus he makes explicit, among other things, the fact that what comes into existence comes into a real, ongoing and dependent existence in relationship to its Maker: as if creation 'continues to draw its substantial being from the Source of all being.'

W. Norris Clark furthermore crystallized the question for me when he proposed a dyadic conception of being: 'To be is to be substance-in-relation'535.  For if there are two basic dimensions to our being - then why not three?  If the unitary and simple substance is now understood to be 'substance-in relation,' then is there a third aspect of being which would complete a tryadic conception of being?  Thus there seemed to arise the task of finding a three-term metaphysical conception of being.

David Schindler seemed to go further when he proposed the threefold schema of: being from, in and for one another536, which seems to inescapably "echo" the mutual indwelling of each Person of the Blessed Trinity in the Other.  It could even be said that he has sub-divided relation into a three-part metaphysical definition of being: being from, being in, and being for.  Furthermore, his conception of being537 in its Christological and indeed its Mariological form - and thus the twin perceptions of its origin in the nature of the Son and the Son as the archetypal pattern of all human being, drawing as it does on the work of Cardinal Ratzinger - could well be one of the modern discernments of what has been traditionally called the trace of the Blessed Trinity in the work of creation, particularly the creation of human being.  Finally, it could be said that he anticipates this present discussion when, in a summary of his discussion of Cardinal Ratzinger's Creedal-Catholicism538, he speaks of the principle which brings together, among other things, the 'ideas of relation and unity'539.  For what is there between a definition of being which employs the terms 'relation and unity' and a definition of being which says: being is a unity-in-diversity?

531 Gaudium et Spes, art 24, page 925 of VCII.    Back
532 IHT, page 3.    Back
533 Fr. J. Redford, Introducing Theology, A Course Book for the Distance Learning Degree in Theology, (Birmingham: Maryvale Institute, 1990), page 160. &nbso;Abbrev. IT.    Back
534 F. Clark SJ, A 'New Theology' of the Real Presence?, (London: CTS [Do 396], 1967), pages 13-14.  Abbrev. RP.    Back
535 W.N. Clarke, Person, Being, and St. Thomas, Communio, International Catholic Review, edited by D.L. Schindler, (Winter 1992), Vol. XIX, No. 4, page 607.  Abbrev PBS.    Back
536 D. L. Schindler, The Person: Philosophy, Theology, And Receptivity, Communio, Vol XXI, No 1, (Spring 1994), page 176: 'Esse intrinsically - and thus wherever it is "instantiated" - is characterized by movement from and toward which comes from "within" itself.'  This is then followed by an extensive footnote.  Abbrev PPTR.    Back
537 Cf. David L. Schindler, Is America bourgeois?, Communio, Vol XIV, No. 3, (Fall 1987), part II of his article particularly, pages 267-271.  The title of this issue is On The Soul.  Abbrev. IAB.    Back
538 I have reversed the terms for convenience.  D. L. Shindler says: 'Catholic-creedal ...' on page 269 of IAB.    Back
539 Ibid.    Back

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