Monday, December 08, 2003

Ah, but to accept the beginning in the Word is to submit to "offering" oneself up "to the fire that presses upon the center," and to "begin to understand surrender and sacrifice as eternal fruitfulness." (28 -- sorry, I think my pagination is different) Purgation _is_ annihilation: an annihilation that ends not in complete nothingness, but rather in richness in being rooted in Christ as our center. Man's natural center is not nothingness _in se_, rather it is "nothing without Christ" -- it is relative nothingness, a completely transitory will-o-th'-wisp. Why is it transitory? Because, "as his life burns out and dies, he is consumed: a descent, not a completion." (27)

In Christ, man is consumed by the fire of the Holy Spirit, but "beginning and fire are one" so that his apparent destruction contains new life "transposed into the eternal (and therefore ever new) beginning of God..." (29) For von Speyr this process is continuous, "The whole of man's progress consists in the perpetual destruction of the human center..." This is a result of God's love, which we experience diametrically as judgment and mercy. Do we experience this process beyond bodily death? God's love, certainly, "endures forever." (Ps 118, 136) When do we experience this divine love not as judgment and mercy but simply as love? At the Beatific Vision. Thus, is there the possibility of purgation after the Resurrection but before eternal fellowship with the Holy Trinity, perhaps as an event of the Final Judgment? While von Speyr leaves it unsaid, her grammar (fire, destruction, consummation, transformation, new life) leaves the possibility quite open.

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