The Bible is not a complete book. The hearts of the human disciples of Christ are the sacred chambers where Holy Writ is completed. Every testament, every individual reading of the Bible matters and is inspired by the Holy Spirit, that is, by God himself.
Our interiors are made up of our personal biographical memories, which are largely structured by the Seven Sacraments of the Church, whether we know it or not.
Each interior is unique as we are confronted with an endless variety and variables of human experience, which is why every biography is precious and dear to our Lord. It is irreplaceable and irreproducible.
The testament we leave for posterity is a pale record of the true reality of our lived experience, but nevertheless the building block for the materialization and manifestation of Christian being in the world. It articulates the individual contribution to the communion of Saints. We owe the Church not only taxes and donations, but our life works, our individual testaments, which enrich the Christian community with knowledge, beauty, and emotional splendour.
The Vatican, earthly center of Christian civilization and symbol of Church Unity
Disciples of Christ Today
Joining a Church community is important for maintaining Christian power and leverage in an increasingly hostile world. Church practices are losing ground in traditional strongholds. Christian thought has been expelled from all university disciplines. Christian intellectuals have shrunk enormously in numbers. The few who have been allowed to participate in contemporary intellectual discussions are severely restricted. The role they have been allotted is already pre-packaged and pre-determined by other overarching discourses. As a result Christian thinkers are not present as active interlocutors and agents of knowledge on the intellectual scene. Their influence is very limited.
Given these sad historical developments, it is paramount that the remaining Churches reunite and individual members renew their commitment to the Bride of the Lamb. The Church represents the Christian communion of Saints directly. Each Christian must understand himself as part of the greater body of the Church, which spans all times and historical epochs and consists of the community of Saints.
Sacramental culture has been essential in establishing the cultural reality of the Christian world. Participating in the sacraments is our first duty as Christians. Our contribution to Church culture is also the cornerstone of our lives, which are structured by the sacraments. Our biographies wouldn’t make sense without our participation in the sacraments.
Rogier van der Weyden, The Seven Sacraments The Christian Life is structured by the sacraments, at the center of which is the crucifixion and the ensuing principal sacrament of mourning (the following post will focus on cultural production and the central sacrament)
Literary Testament, Individual Testament
Though we are required to remain in the Church, the living word of God only becomes complete in our interiors. Mechanical participation in rituals and sacraments would be meaningless if we don’t let God dwell richly in our innermost being.
God’s love unfolds in the interior of the disciple of Christ. We read in the Gospel that God dwells inside us. He sets up His Kingdom in the innermost spaces of our being. This also means that the unique labyrinth every Christian heart represents is an exclusive world fashioned after God’s image and resonating with God’s being.
Every Christian leaves a testament of some kind. Some leave books, poetry, or memoirs, others leave buildings, gardens, scholarly studies, or designs, still others leave athletic records and media, works of art and fashion, etc, the list goes on as there are endless ways of leaving a testament.
What is important in leaving a testament, however, is not how well it was received at the time of its making and presentation, nor how closely it conformed to the highest technical standards of the times, which become obsolete all too quickly, but how richly they let God’s word resonate in them and how well they accommodate the Living Word.
It is not by chance that the arts and sciences were developed and thrived on Christian soil. Christians understand the value of their work as service to God, service to others, but above all as an expression of the most precious gift we receive, the baptism in the spirit, which is absolutely unique for individual Christians.
What kind of testament are you leaving? How do we understand our interior worlds? How do we develop individual reading practices?
Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (c 1524) by Parmigianino
The modern age developed a unique form of literary arts, which lifted the curtain on an endlessly rich and elaborate interior human world. Since most testaments are written and since all testaments begin to mean something only once they become articulated in language, it is important to understand literature as sacred testament and not simply as profane commodity. Stay tuned for the Biblical and sacramental theory of literature as a personal and sacred testament. Literature upholds a standard designed to aid and support individual testaments, not to replace or annihilate them.