January 25, 2011

St. Hilary on Theological Education

Today I finally got around to starting in on my project of reading St. Hilary's De Trinitate. Only a few pages in, I've already found some beautiful doctrine. For example, as he reflects on the revelation of the Word made flesh in the Gospel of John, Hilary pauses to note one of the foundational delights of theological education:

Proficit mens ultra naturalis sensus intelligentiam et plus de Deo quam opinabatur docetur. (I:10)

"The mind goes beyond the understanding of its natural knowledge, and is taught more about God that it had imagined it could be."

To me, this is where prayer and theological study have their most compelling intersection. Without a genuine and sustained encounter with Sacred Scripture, God remains an abstract concept. So abstract, most of the time, as to be so thin an idea that there is hardly anything to say about it, much less any personal response. This is the state of our secular culture; it hasn't forgotten about God but only allowed the idea of God to become so faint and transparent as to make no demand and unable to enter into any conversation.

But when you begin to live with the Scripture, and then put yourself into prayerful conversation with those who have been reflecting and exerting themselves to understand its meaning over the centuries, the abstract concept begins to achieve a density that finally transcends everything else. Your soul is taught with a sort of knowing you didn't even know about before.


Mark D. said...

And this is the key reason why scripture, as the Second Vatican Council puts it, is the heart of sacred theology.

Anonymous said...

Once again, just like the last time, you have advanced me another step in my spiritual journey with your words: ". . .when you begin to live with the Scripture. . . ."

The post came just when I was being less assiduous in this practice and beginning to feel the hunger pangs that result from a light Scripture diet.

I am trying but the day ends so quickly. How do religious get it all done?

BTW, your Grimm's Fairy Tales blog was good for my spirit! (Especially coming from a Franciscan.)