Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Leaving All

Am reading Guardini again. Will I then leave all and follow you?

But perhaps Romano Amerio should be my companion on your way:

The height of perfection lies not in the conquest of the universe, nor in Bacon’s prolatio ad omne possibile, nor in any thing which can be put to either good or evil use by technology, but in moral heroism and in that alone, because through it alone man conforms to the divine image in which he is created, and express the life of the Incarnation and of the Holy Trinity.
— Romano Amerio, Iota Unum, Paragraph 212

In Paragraphs 202–203, Romano Amerio writes about the importance of every present moment:

The respect man owes to the law is owed and payable at every moment in time independently of every other. Past and future moments in life are absent here and now, but man’s relation to his ultimate end, namely God, is always present, and it dominates what the whole of man is, and leaves no part of himself that he can give to finite things as subtracted from God. This is what gives moral life its seriousness. Not one instant of a man’s life is free for him to devote to sin; this is a truth that has been preached in every age of Christian history. Every moment of wasted time has to be redeemed, that is, put into relation with the transcendent, apart from which there is nothing but non-being, whether metaphysical or moral. . . . A present intention to do evil is incompatible with an intention to repent and make reparation.

I die to myself when I make every act my last act.

The Christian religion teaches that a man should deny himself, not realize himself. This renunciation, it should be noted, is brought about by conforming oneself to the law, that is, to the will of God, and is not a self-annihilation, but the cutting off of egoism and self-love.
— Romano Amerio, Iota Unum, Paragraph 215

In one of the few, perhaps the only, humorous moments of Iota Unum, Romano Amerio quotes Lech Walesa: As I worker I would like to work as little as possible. Paragraph 211, Footnote 4.

This footnote I hope is true, even if it contradicts both Jacques Barzun and James Agate:

Mediaeval artists, who were often anonymous, would create beautiful objects not for the service of man, but so that they could proclaim the glory of God. Thus it was that they often placed their statues in the vaults of cathedrals, away from the light, though they were thus invisible to men, for whose benefit they had not been made.
— Roman Amerio, Iota Unum, Paragraph 216, Footnote 33.

Amerio comes back to this later:

An over-emphasis on the merely functional aspects of a church building diminishes one’s sense of the sacred. A church is indeed a place where the faithful meet to pray and to take part in the liturgy, but it has a sacred character even when such functions are not being exercised within it; a sacred building like every other artistic creation of a religious sort, exists in itself as distinct from the use which may subsequently be made of it. Si hi tacuerint, lapides clamabunt [Luke, 19:40 If these (people kept silent, the stones would cry out.] is a saying applicable to sacred architecture; or as Rouault said, churches ought to be maisons priantes [Houses that pray], not merely places that people use for prayer, but places which themselves pray. This is true of those mediaeval churches in which an artist has hidden some beautiful carving or painting high up in a remote corner, away from the light where nobody sees it, but where all by itself it still sings the glory of God for whom it was made; made by an artist content that his own name too should be similarly forgotten, that the name of God alone might be glorified.
— Roman Amerio, Iota Unum, Paragraph 292.

This, too, has to do with leaving.