Book: And The Word Dwelt Among Us
Author: Romano Guardini
Sophia Press, Manchester, NH. pp. 120
Excerpt from Jacket:
Romano Guardini peers into three familiar Scripture passages — one each about faith, hope, and charity — and draws forth from them the bright splendor of Scripture's crown jewel: the vivid reality of God's presence among us.
You will learn to read the Bible in ways that will draw you closer to Christ's loving heart . . . You'll discover that God truly does dwell among us . . . and you'll come to see faith, hope, and charity not merely as virtues, but as tender manifestations of His abiding love.
Excerpts from Book:
On the Passage: In the Beginning was the Word.
"In the beginning was the Word." The beginning of St. John's Gospel, or, more exactly, the first eighteen verses of his first chapter, the so-called Prologue, have always made a particular impression upon believers. Many of its words touch the most hidden recesses of the spirit — especially the very first: "In the beginning was . . ."
One of the eternal questions of mankind is indeed: "What was in the beginning?" What was, in that beginning of time at which we arrive — or believe that we can arrive — if we retrace the hours and years and ages? What was, before anything had happened? What was the first thing that happened, and how was it brought about? And what was the beginning of being, the roots of things which we reach or believe that we can reach when we grope through the structure of things, the interaction of forces, the tissue of causes? What was, when nothing as yet existed? What was the first thing from which all else came, the essential, which gave its law to all the rest, and from what power did it come?
Our consciousness seems to have two answers to these questions. The first consists in explaining that there is no answer, or, more exactly that none is required, because the question itself is false. There is no original cause and no first ultimate force, because beyond all that we fathom, a new riddle arises. Indeed, everything is in itself a closed cycle. The world is that which has no beginning or end, the whole and the all, the closed cycle and no question can transcend it.
The other answer says: the movement of being is upward, from darkness and chaos into light and form. Hence in the beginning, there is voiceless being, blind necessity, unconscious urge, the primitive force.
Revelation replies: there is a beginning, and at the beginning stands the word and its creative act. We do not know as yet what this "word" means — for surely it means something special, and of that we shall have much more to say — but one thing is clear immediately: it is something bright, extended, free; a clearness of mind and a capacity for responsibility; not nature but spirit.
On The Yearning of Creation
Deep with each man, there lives the consciousness that something must happen to him, that this present existence is not the real and true one, that it must become new and different and so attain to its proper reality.
If one should ask him, he would not be able to say how this is to be, yet he waits for it with a hope that he perhaps does not admit even to himself. This hope is often mistaken about its own meaning. Then man thinks that what he is waiting for is the coming day or the spring or some encounter or a change in circumstances. But he is mistaken. The change for which he is really waiting does not consist in this — that he will learn tomorrow to control himself better than today, that his next work will be more successful than the last, that he will rise to success and power or will find the person whose love can wholly rouse and fill him. These things are fundamentally merely changes within a similar situation. What he desires is the real transformation, the genesis of something entirely new, from which man would at last receive his proper self.
But are these not fantasies — beautiful, profound, and ultimately vain imaginations of human longings?
No, to appeal to this desire, to interpret it, to promise that it shall be fulfilled, indeed that the fulfillment has already begun and is being consummated through the ages — this is the meaning of the "good news," the gospel. We shall learn this from one of the deepest and richest texts of Scripture, the eighth chapter of the letter that St. Paul wrote to the congregation in Rome.
. . . . St. Paul says that through faith in the gospel, we are committed to a new way of life. Herein we shall not serve what is earthly, for in that way, we shall die. Here speaks the deep experience of the ancients — that everything passes away, even what is greatest and most beautiful. No one becomes completely human who does not in someway reach this experience: that everything passes away and that nothing which is itself perishable can save us from this transitoriness. Man is not saved from death when a child is born to him, for this child in turn must die. He is not saved from perishing if he leaves a great work, for, in its time, this also shall perish. . . .
In this life, [As St. Paul tells us] you have a new relation to God, a new rank and a new right. You are his sons. No longer merely sons of men, of your parents, your clan, and your people, but of God. And the Spirit is the sacred breath which blows from Him through you, and the will that comes from the Father and guides you.
In this way, you are raised about the natural order by which everyone is bound. . . . The Spirit has raised us to a new status in making us brethren of Christ. As a result of this, we have a new disposition, that of children. The new spirit within us speaks directly to the holy, eternal God., and in this face-to-face, there is no longer fear, but freedom and confidence.