Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lacordaire: Conferences

The following is from the opening of Lacordaire's
"God: Conferences delivered at Notre Dame in Paris"



We have proved the divinity of Christian doctrine in a two-fold manner; by its results, in showing that it produces that marvel the Church, to which nothing is comparable and which evidently surpasses all human power; and also by showing that her founder is Jesus Christ, the envoy of God and the Son of God. The effects and source of this doctrine being divine, it is manifestly stamped with the seal of divinity, or, in other words, it is divine. It would seem that our task is ended, and that having drowned that doctrine whose minister we are with the most sacred and certain of all characters, we have but two things to demand from you, or rather to impose upon you, namely, silence and adoration.

But the human mind is so formed, it has been so steeped in light, that even if it saw the very hand of God bearing doctrine to it, it would not be willing to receive that doctrine without receiving therewith the right and power to sound its depths. The road of authority is doubtless a just, a natural road, and necessary for our present state; but it does not suffice for us. For our present state includes the foretaste of the future promised to us, and in regard to that future, nothing will fully satisfy us but light seen by us in the very essence of God himself. We do not desire henceforth to behold that light in its infinite fullness; we understand that limits have been placed to our mental vision and to our horizon; but how feeble so-ever that vision may be, it is that of an intelligent being; how limited so-ever its horizon, it is an horizon traced by the hand of God. Our mind seeks light, and our horizon receives its rays. As soon then as a doctrine is proposed to us, from whatsoever hand it may come, we thirst to fathom it, to scrutinize it from within, to assure ourselves, in fine, that it possesses other marks of truth than merely outward signs, however great they may be. I cannot escape from this law of our being, nor do I desire so to do. I respect it in you as in myself; I recognize therein our origin and our predestination. After having led you then for so many hears through the externals of Christianity, I must now, under the eye of God, pass the threshold of the temple, and without fear as without presumption, contemplate doctrine itself, the daughter of God and the mother of your soul.

I do not promise you its absolute superiority; this can be done only by leaving this present world and reaching the bright shores of the infinite. But I promise you that in comparing it with all the doctrines that have endeavored to explain the mysteries of the world, you shall easily discover in it an unquestionable and a divine superiority. I promise you that a light shall shine from it, which, without always attaining to evidence itself, will form at least a glorious dawn of evidence, and perhaps even at times a blending, as it were, of the reason of man with the reason of God. Your soul, elevated by veiled truths, will see them gradually growing clearer in the dawn of contemplation; in that holy exercise it will become accustomed to flights before unknown to it, and at length wonder at the sublime simplicity of the greatest mysteries.

Henri-Dominique Lacordaire
God: Conferences - Notre-Dame in Paris (1871)

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1 comment:

  1. France could sure use another Lacordaire. For that matter, so could we!