Mysterium Verbi

CarlGutherzLightoftheIncarnation
“Light of the Incarnation”, Carl Gutherz, 1888.

“1 In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum. 2 Hoc erat in principio apud Deum.” – Iohannes 1:1-2

The mystery of the Son, the Eternal Word of the Father, is indicated by the Holy Spirit in his dictation to Maria Valtorta:

“”I am the First and the Last”

As God has no beginning, so the Word of God has no beginning. And yet He has a mysterious beginning, which is the one indicated by the inspired John at the start of his Gospel of Light: “In the beginning was the Word”. This beginning without beginning, with no time period serving to indicate it, since for the Eternal there is no temporal limit, but an endless abyss of eternity – what was it, then? It is one of the mysteries which the Word Himself will illuminate for souls when they are in the Kingdom. For everything will be illuminated and rendered knowable by means of the Word, there, in his Eternal Kingdom.

But for men, for whom the flesh and exile make it impossible to penetrate the mysteries and difficult to understand them, even in the measure of what is comprehensible for those living on earth, it could be said that this beginning with no beginning has been since God is, and, by his being, He generates and loves what He generates – that is, forever – for the first one begotten from his fecund spirit with a most ardent and perfect love is his Word, eternal as He is.

It could be said to those most resistant to understanding that the first blazing forth of Charity generated the Word and produced the procession of the Holy Spirit. But since there is no first blazing forth of Charity for one who is Eternal, it is better to say that the perfect Unity and Trinity of God has had no beginning in the sense which mean want to give that word and that the mystery, in being a mystery, will be revealed to us only when we are one with God, just as Christ requested and obtained for us.

Beforehand it is useless to seek to penetrate and know the truth of this mystery. The most ardent mystics, the deepest contemplatives, and the truest worshippers, though, nearly forgetting their human needs, they immerse themselves, plunge in, burn, rise, and dash into that Abyss of loftiness which is the Divinity, to gain knowledge so as to love better and better, to implore the only Object of their love to grant them the truth, the revelation of this mystery in order to be able to explain it to many who, in knowing it, would be attracted towards Love, will never, as long as mortal flesh robes them, be able to receive full knowledge of this mystery.”

An index to understand the mysterious beginning, is given by St. Jerome in his famous quotation: “Ignorance of scripture, is ignorance of Christ.” Holy Scripture, is the Word of God which treats principally of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is known as the Bible, which in French means “Livre” or “Book” in English. The principal purpose of every book is to tell a story, progressing from beginning, middle, to an end. As such, the Bible is the Book of the Word that speaks of the Story of His Testament, both in the Old Law, and the New Law. More importantly, the Bible treats of the triumph of Life over Death in the power of the Judgement of the Son, on the Cross. In this regard, it reveals the Divine purpose which is to tell the Story of the Word in Time.

The Bible is the Word of God, and it is a Story of Love in the expectation of Judgement, its primary Protagonist is Christ, the Son of God, and Satan is the antagonist. At the center, is an argumentation between Christ and Satan, over whether the Christ is the Son of God, that is, the Heir to the Eternal Kingdom of Heaven. Creation bears witness to the Word of God, and is a sidereal Liturgy that celebrates the Glory of the Holy Trinity. The phrase “In the beginning”, serves to indicate the beginning of the Book, thus, the Story itself. As St. Thomas Aquinas reveals, the phrase “In the beginning” indicates the Son of the Father.

Secundo considerandum est, quid significet hoc quod dicitur in principio. Sciendum est autem quod principium, secundum Origenem, multis modis dicitur. Cum enim principium importet ordinem quemdam ad alia, necesse est invenire principium in omnibus, in quibus est ordo. Invenitur autem ordo in quantitatibus; et secundum hoc dicitur principium in numeris et longitudine, puta lineae. Invenitur etiam ordo in tempore; et secundum hoc dicitur principium temporis, vel durationis. Invenitur ordo in disciplinis, et hic est duplex: secundum naturam, et quoad nos; et utroque modo dicitur principium. Hebr. V, v. 12: deberetis esse magistri propter tempus. Et hoc modo, secundum naturam quidem, in disciplina Christiana initium et principium sapientiae nostrae est Christus, inquantum est sapientia et verbum Dei, idest secundum divinitatem. Quoad nos vero principium est ipse Christus, inquantum verbum caro factum est, idest secundum eius incarnationem. Invenitur etiam ordo in productione rei; et secundum hoc principium dicitur ex parte generati, scilicet ipsa prima pars generati seu facti: sicut fundamentum dicitur principium domus. Vel ex parte facientis: et sic est triplex principium, scilicet intentionis, quod est finis, quod movet agentem; rationis, quod est ipsa forma in mente artificis; et executionis, quod est potentia operans. His igitur modis de principio inquirendum est, quomodo sumatur hic principium, cum dicit in principio erat verbum. 34 Secondly, we must consider the meaning of the phrase, In the beginning. We must note that according to Origen, the word principium has many meanings [such as “principle,” “source,” or “beginning”]. Since the word principium implies a certain order of one thing to another, one can find a principium in all those things which have an order. First of all, order is found in quantified things; and so there is a principle of number and lengths, as for example, a line. Second, order is found in time; and so we speak of a “beginning” of time, or of duration. Third, order is found in learning; and this in two ways: as to nature, and as to ourselves, and in both cases we can speak of a “beginning”: “By this time you ought to be teachers” (Heb 5:12). As to nature, in Christian doctrine the beginning and principle of our wisdom is Christ, inasmuch as he is the Wisdom and Word of God, i.e., in his divinity. But as to ourselves, the beginning is Christ himself inasmuch as the Word has become flesh, i.e., by his incarnation. Fourth, in order is found in the production of a thing. In this perspective there can be a principium on the part of the thing generated, that is, the first part of the thing generated or made; as we say that the foundation is the beginning of a house. Another principium is on the part of the generator, and in this perspective there are three “principles”: of intention, which is the purpose, which motivates the agent; of reason, which is the idea in the mind of the maker; and of execution, which is the operative faculty. Considering these various ways of using the term, we now ask how principium is used here when it says, In the beginning was the Word.
Dicendum est igitur quod potest sumi tripliciter. Uno modo, secundum quod principium supponit pro persona filii, quod principium est creaturarum secundum rationem virtutis activae, et per modum sapientiae, quae est ratio eorum quae fiunt; unde dicitur I Cor. I, 24: Christum Dei virtutem et Dei sapientiam. Unde et dominus de se dicit infra VIII, 25: ego principium, qui et loquor vobis. Sic ergo accipiendo principium, intelligendum est quod dicitur in principio erat verbum, ac si diceret in filio erat verbum, ut sit sensus: ipsum verbum est principium, ex modo loquendi, quo dicitur vita esse in Deo, quae tamen non est aliud, quam ipse Deus. 35 We should note that this word can be taken in three ways. In one way so that principium is understood as the Person of the Son, who is the principle of creatures by reason of his active power acting with wisdom, which is the conception of the things that are brought into existence. Hence we read: “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:24). And so the Lord said about himself: “I am the principium who also speaks to you” (below 8:25). Taking principium in this way, we should understand the statement, In the beginning was the Word, as though he were saying, “The Word was in the Son,” so that the sense would be: The Word himself is the principium, principle, in the sense in which life is said to be “in” God, when this life is not something other than God.
Et haec est expositio Origenis. Dicit ergo hic Evangelista in principio, ut statim in principio divinitatem verbi ostenderet, ut Chrysostomus dicit, dum asserit ipsum esse principium; quia secundum determinationem omnium principium est honoratissimum. And this is the explanation of Origen. And so the Evangelist says In the beginning here in order, as Chrysostom says, to show at the very outset the divinity of the Word by asserting that he is a principle because, as determining all, a principle is most honored.
Secundo modo potest accipi principium, prout supponit pro persona patris, quod est principium non solum creaturarum, sed omnis divini processus; et sic accipitur in Ps. CIX, 3: tecum principium in die virtutis tuae. Secundum hoc ergo dicitur in principio erat verbum, ac si diceretur: in patre erat filius. Et haec est expositio Augustini, et etiam Origenis. Dicitur autem filius esse in patre, quia eiusdem essentiae est cum patre. Cum enim filius sit sui essentia, in quocumque est essentia filii, est filius. Quia ergo in patre est essentia filii per consubstantialitatem, conveniens est quod filius sit in patre. Unde infra XIV, 10 dicitur: ego in patre, et pater in me est. 36 In a second way principium can be understood as the Person of the Father, who is the principle not only of creatures, but of every divine process. It is taken this way in, “Yours is princely power (principium) in the day of your birth” (Ps 110:3). In this second way one reads In the beginning was the Word as though it means, “The Son was in the Father.” This is Augustine’s understanding of it, as well as Origen’s. The Son, however, is said to be in the Father because both have the same essence. Since the Son is his own essence, then the Son is in whomsoever the Son’s essence is. Since, therefore, the essence of the Son is in the Father by consubstantiality, it is fitting that the Son be in the Father. Hence it says below (14:10): “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”
Tertio modo potest accipi principium pro principio durationis, ut sit sensus in principio erat verbum, idest verbum erat ante omnia, ut Augustinus exponit, et designatur per hoc verbi aeternitas, secundum Basilium et Hilarium. 37 In a third way, principium can be taken for the beginning of duration, so that the sense of In the beginning was the Word is that the Word was before all things, as Augustine explains it. According to Basil and Hilary, this phrase shows the eternity of the Word.

-“Chapter 1”, Commentary on the Gospel of St. John, St. Thomas Aquinas

As St. Thomas shows, the beginning is in the Person of the Son, in other words, the beginning of the Word is identical to the beginning of the Story; in its essence, the Word is a Story that the Father narrates throughout Time from Eternity.

In the Word, the Father contemplates Himself, the Word, and Time, that is, Creation since the Word is the principle of creatures. The Word is chiefly, the Story of Beauty, that marries Time in the paradox of poetry, that is an embrace of a Love that is Sacrifice. The name of the Story, of the Poem, can be titled: “The Poem of the Man-God”, for it is from the poem of the Son’s love for Time, that is found the Divine desire for Creation. The Bible, in its prophecy of the End, in its Love of the Story, is a Poem whose origin is found in Testamentum, the dispositions of the Victim born for the event of Death in order to cancel the foreknown existence of Sin from Creation. The mystery of the Word, of His beginning, is thus the beginning of a Story that is the Cause for the existence of Creation, which sings the magnificence of God and reveals the Beauty of His Goodness.

“In the beginning was the Word”, that is, in the Son, Creation finds its Reason for existence, the continuance of its being, and the liturgy of its movement. Everything that exists, in its natural capacity, praises the Being of God and reveals His Beneficence and Marvelous Power. “The Poem of the Man-God” is a witness to Truth, to the Beauty of Being, in the face of the denial of the Divinity of the Son. The mystery of the Son is the Story of a Temple of adoration of Eternal Beauty, a Temple that has beginning for it is born of the Divine Fiat, but that knows no end, for it justifies the existence of Creation and of that Power of Love that sublimates temporality into Eternity. The Word, as revealed by Christ Himself, is the Temple of God.

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19)

What then, is the Story of the Temple? Its Story is that Deicide is the Sin that caused the need for Redemption; in the foreknowledge of the future acts of men, God judged the Temple of the Word with the sanction of Death in order to convert man into a nothing that adores the paradox of Beauty, the Cross, that is, the Word that suffers in Time.

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