Spiritual murders

Publish date 05-04-2024

by Flaminia Morandi

While preaching, Origen (image) stopped to ask those who listened to him to pray with him to understand the sacred text.
Explaining the word of God, a task that makes your wrists tremble: it's not just about talking about the truth, but about putting it within the reach of souls. In the Homilies on Ezekiel he says: «I confess a recurring thought: about God, it is dangerous to speak even truthfully». Not only false things are dangerous, "but also true ones, if they are not said appropriately".

We would never have known God in himself if he had not become incarnate, he says. His "hidden, ineffable, invisible" presence becomes closeness for us only through Christ. Through Christ, God becomes "tangible, legible" as if he were flesh. Yet, even with the incarnation, "there is a certain closed door through which no one enters", because the Word does not reveal all his secrets. Even the Word made flesh is not truly knowable except for those "seekers" to whom he wants to reveal himself. The ardent passion for Scripture, which was Origen's entire life, had inspired the Didaskaleion, a scientific study center that he never closed.

The communication of the Word had to rely on four points to keep in mind: Scripture is given to announce mysteries and its first meaning is spiritual; the “letter” is intended to hide the mysteries from the uninitiated; at the same time, the letter is the transparent symbol of the mysteries for those with a simple faith; but, to prevent them from clinging to the meaning they think they have discovered, here and there there are passages whose meaning is uniquely spiritual, and confusing.
Everything has a spiritual meaning, it's our weakness that doesn't let us see it. «If reading the Scripture you falter over a thought that is good but which for you is a stone of scandal and fall, accuse yourself. Believe immediately, and beneath the apparent entanglement you will find great spiritual usefulness." The very discordance of the Gospels causes a "bewilderment" which is healthy, because it pushes us further, urges us to ascend. It is the "existential method" that God uses: "As long as we are earthly creatures, it is not appropriate to contemplate the immense hidden treasure of his goodness, for fear that harm may come to us."

The mystery is an invitation to walk in the fog with confidence. The preacher can only be precarius, a man of prayer.
Origen had been a child of prayer, raised in a time of persecution, initiated into the Scriptures by his father Leonidas, who died a martyr. Then the burden of the mother and six little brothers to get by, the study of the Bible night and day, an austere life, fasting, teaching. Until the martyrdom towards which he had been aiming his whole life.

Perhaps the "genius of Christianity", as Jean Danielou defines him, could suggest a reflection to the numerous rationalist preachers of the web. Those of his time, 3rd century, Origen defined as "talkers".
The knowledge they spread was a "sacrilegious communion" and a "spiritual murder."

Flaminia Morandi
NP February 2024

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