Logos Option

My e-mail address is on the list of Dr Robert Moynihan, and sometimes there are some lovely spiritual reflections. Most recently, he has sent out a letter with the title The Logos Option. It might seem somewhat corny after Benedict Option, and how many other Options. Slogans can be misleading and unnecessary. What provoked me to react was not the slogan but some of the context, which I will reproduce below. The text in question comes after the various considerations of interest to Roman Catholics.

I am impressed by a section which not only stresses our need to adore God and the Mystery of Christ, but to find the Kingdom for which we long and yearn. Dr Moynihan rightly affirms that:

The power of meaning (logos) and unselfish love (agape) and expiatory suffering will transform the very atomic structure of our reality, as it were, and sanctify it in a “new age” to come.

However, there is the dimension of eros which is present in Sehnsucht (as experienced by probably few of us) that motivates us towards the purity of disinterested love and adoration.

Human language is so limited when discussing the mysteries of God. We find ourselves today with the Greek word λόγος. It has many meanings in the history of philosophy. It cannot be limited to “word” or “reason”. If we go into all these historical meanings of the word, we might find a “logos option” becoming very complex indeed. The real meaning seems to be quite beyond us and only describable by analogy and allegory.

I find these bare bones interesting, but they need to be fleshed out and developed.

* * *

I feel I must try to shift the conversation toward the Logos, the center and summit of our hope.

What is important is not the individual controversy so much as whether we learn of the “Good News” of the existence and sacrifice of the Incarnate Logos.

Again as always before, we need to return to the Logos, to Christ, and not be distracted by anything else.

And it seems to me that now is an appropriate time.

So, how to turn toward the Logos, amid the turmoil and confusion of this world, and of the Church in our time?

By returning to Christ, by coming into His presence, wherever we are, whether in a chapel, in the Gospels, in prayer, whether in speaking or in silence.

By simply remaining in a posture of listening and implicit reverence.

But perhaps this is precisely the problem.

The human person, it seems, most often seeks to receive praise and glory, not to give it, to receive honor and genuflections, not to honor or genuflect (literally, “bend the knee”) before anyone else.

We regard such “submission” as unworthy of a man, or a woman.

We wish to have no “god” but… ourselves…

However, the truth is, if the highest reverence we give is to ourselves(!), we are giving reverence to a person… not truly worthy of reverence.

The sole being to whom a man or woman ought to give reverence is one worthy of such reverence.

The secular humanists may be quite correct when they argue that honoring or giving reverence to an imperfect human being — a king, a president, a general, a leader — is unworthy of true men and women.

But what if… what if the person were worthy, entirely worthy of honor and reverence?

Leaving aside the question of where we might encounter such a being, of how we might run into such a person in the vastness of space and time and our changing and passing world, we still could postulate, perhaps, that if we were to encounter such a being, then that being would elicit from us an ontological response, a response rooted in the understanding of our being and of the being before us who is worthy — a response rooted in the realization, the understanding, the recognition… that this other person, this being, is worthy.

And in this way we come to… the holy.

Holiness is the ontological characteristic which elicits this response, as in the Hollywood films where a light appears and the music rises in a crescendo to illustrate the presence of what is awesome, transcendent, numinous, divine…

The response to the holy is always a response of awe and adoration, because our souls were made to love and reverence and long for the holy.

The encounter with the holy naturally prompts our genuflection, our bowing of the head, but it is not an abasement of ourselves, per se, but an acknowledgment of a fact — that we are in contact with, in the presence of, what is holy.

I take it as axiomatic that we long for the holy, as a sunflower longs for the rays of the sun.

Perhaps this needs proving, but I take it as a given, as a point of departure.

We seek for the holy throughout our lives, and we always wonder if we will ever find even a trace of it, in this fallen world…

What affirms that the world is not meaningless (logos-less) is… meaning.

What affirms that world is not total chaos, senseless and cruel is… a person who is rational, reasonable, and kind.

To meet such a person, such a being, offers the prospect of true freedom — because the person is worthy.

This is why Moses took off his sandals on Mt. Sinai.

It was not his self-abasement, it was his recognition of the nature of the presence before him, who had come to him to enter into a relationship with him.

This is the point: the mind, the soul (with a certain imprecision, I use both terms, and apologize for that) of a human being was not made for frustration and deception, but for fulfillment and truth.

Christ, the Logos of God, the Word of God, God’s self-expression, His very nature and self, his Son, is the supreme object of the mind, or soul.

Furthermore, as St. Paul has taught us so well, once this “object” (actually a subject, a person, a “Thou”) is encountered, and contemplated — once we have removed our sandals before Him… He starts to transform us, our minds, our souls.

We ourselves, our minds, our souls — are changed.

This is why we can rejoice — because we are not “stuck” with this wretched, limited, selfish, inward-focused soul, or mind, which deceives, continually, our very selves.

Rather, we can be “perfected,” indeed, “replaced,” through and by the Logos, which penetrates and heals, cleanses and renews, the soul, the mind, and orients the soul, the mind, toward truth, toward faith, toward hope, toward love.

This is the blessing.

This is blessedness.

Thus is the liturgy, in the Byzantine rite of St. John Chrysostom, we pray: “You made us worthy to partake of Your holy, divine, immortal and life-giving Mysteries. Preserve us in Your holiness that we may meditate all the day upon Your justice.”

And no blandishment of our oligarchs, whether in Europe or America, Russia or China, no proposal of money, or power, or authority, or even magic or technological “miracle-making,” can be more attractive than this self-transcendence accomplished by the Logos.

Nothing can draw us away in temptation from the Logos, once we have encountered Him, for He is the true lover of our souls, that is, of our selves.

Suffering, in this context, is not to be feared or fled from. Rather, it is in some mysterious way the necessary and even beneficial — that is, “good-causing” — means which leads us home.

The resurrection of Christ reveals that this earthly existence we experience so briefly, this realm, is not the final word.

Rather, all of it is to be transformed.

The power of meaning (logos) and unselfish love (agape) and expiatory suffering will transform the very atomic structure of our reality, as it were, and sanctify it in a “new age” to come.

This is the eschaton, the kingdom of God’s reign.

In expectation of this, the Church’s work is not “hocus pocus” (words derived, in mockery, from the words of the consecration of the bread, “hoc est enim corpus meum” = “for this is my body”) but precisely the preparation for the transformation of this world into something implicit here already (because creation is good)… a process we can in faith perceive, be aware of, but never grasp, due to our limitations of mind, to our occasional frustration and sorrow.

Our best choice, given these facts, is to prepare to be transformed by the One who comes to meet us… always comes to meet us… especially in the very darkest hour.

Our best choice to save our society, our world, in as much as it can be saved, is therefore “The Logos Option.”

What is the meaning of “The Logos Option”?

That we put not our faith in princes, in any human leaders, or human parties or movements, but only in the Word, the Logos, the Meaning of the universe, who has been incarnate, and continues to be in a certain real sense incarnate, present in the world, in his Church.

That is, to put our faith in Christ alone.

And therefore, we must not flee. We must stand where we are, and live where we are, and if required, die where we are, in our living and in our dying bearing witness to the one truth which is above all truths: that God is, that He is holy, that he is above all and within all, and that he is good, and loves mankind.

Father van Zeller wrote in his The Mystery of Suffering: “The Christian ideal is shown to us in the garden of Gethsemane: our Lord asking that the suffering might pass from him, while at the same time being ready to bear it if this is the Father’s will… The saints flinch as instinctively as others when the cross comes along, but they do not allow their flinching to upset their perspectives… All I can say is that had I been healthy all my life I would not have prayed [so well] or put myself in God’s hands.”

So let us choose the Logos option, and proceed forward in His hands, to the end.

What is the glory of God?

“The glory of God is man alive; but the life of man is the vision of God.” —St. Irenaeus of Lyons, in the territory of France, in his great work Against All Heresies, written c. 180 A.D.

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2 Responses to Logos Option

  1. “However, there is the dimension of eros which is present in Sehnsucht (as experienced by probably few of us) that motivates us towards the purity of disinterested love and adoration.”.

    In last two months i think i’ve been “suffering” from sehnsucht (i don’t know why of course) (if sehnsucht can be described as a feeling of yearning for something undefined), and alongside that, i’ve also noticed that i don’t find religious ritual fulfilling anymore, although i know that ritual as such is not bad, and that Christian ritual in its essential parts was established by God himself. In terms of religious life i seek something simple (something along the lines of primitive apostolic liturgy) which in the same time provides some kind of more intimate experience of the divine.

    Is that what you talk about when you say: “motivates us towards the purity of disinterested love and adoration”?

    • I don’t think any two persons experience things the same way. This is a very vague term that covers everything from our relationships with a loved person, or something that is just beyond what we will ever attain in this life. It is in our spirits and souls, not places or even liturgies or churches. We search for the ideal and the perfect, the beautiful, the true and the sublime. It is “heaven” just beyond our reach as we are in this earthly life. Only you can know what is your blue flower with the face of the beloved. I think that “eros” is only a part of this all-consuming love and yearning.

      We have many things in this life that aren’t fulfilling, but are part of our condition as we are in this world. Family, work, money, buying food and clothes – all the everyday things. All those are mundane. That being said, Penelope Fitzgerald wrote her book “The Blue Flower” by starting with a description of washing day at the Von Hardeberg family home – bedsheets and linen or cotton clothes being thrown out of the windows and gathered up to be washed (the way they did it in the 18th century). Novalis himself exhorts us to see the sublime in the most mundane things. The liturgy can seem mundane, as can the priest and people in the pews, the music, the church building – but it all depends on how we see it and idealise it.

      Acedia is a spiritual sickness, as Sehnsucht can easily become. Many treatises were written in the middle ages about what we now call infatuation. I once noted during my six months at Triors Abbey in France, that I “suffered from suffering from the liturgy, especially the unending Matins”.

      Perhaps you can spend some time at a monastery – or on your own in the mountains for a time. We have to work these things out for ourselves.

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