Detail from “15 Estacion: El paño de cuaresma latinoamericano: Un nuevo cielo y una nueva tierra” in the el Via Crucis Latinoamericano series by Argentine activist, community organizer, art painter, writer, sculptor, and 1980 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Adolfo Pérez Esquivel. A full description of the series, and this painting, may be found here
In my book Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth I speak of the need to fall in love at least three times per day. Of course such falling in love is not an anthropocentric kind of falling love—it is falling in love with creation itself and its many expressions of beauty, of the Divine.
Resurrection is democratized for Aquinas. Resurrection is not restricted to believers, but a “new creation “and a “common resurrection” happens to all and has already begun.
On that day on which the resurrection took place a kind of new creation, as it were, began. As the psalmist says (104:30) ‘Send forth your Spirit, and they will be created, and you will renew the face of the earth.’ And as Galatians puts it (6:15): ‘In Christ Jesus neither does circumcision nor uncircumcision have any value, but a new creation does….The life of the risen Christ is spread to all humanity in common resurrection. Christ’s resurrection is the cause of newness of life which comes through grace or justice.
Thomas Aquinas surprises us when he teaches that there are two resurrections: The first is Waking Up in this lifetime. And he implies that if we do this correctly, we don’t have to worry about the second. Aquinas explains the “first resurrection” this way: “Try to rise spiritually from the soul’s death, brought on by our sins, to that life of justice obtained through penitence: ‘Rise, you who sleep, and rise from the dead; and Christ shall enlighten you’ (Eph.5:14). This is the first resurrection: ‘blessed and holy is one who has part in the first resurrection’ (John 20:6).’”
The first resurrection is about Waking Up. Being asleep is a kind of death from which we need to rise up and resurrect. He cites Paul in Romans: “’As Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also must walk in newness of life’ (Rom. 6:4). The new life is the life of justice renewing the soul and leading it to the life of glory.”
As humans awaken a new creation emerges.
A life of justice would be a risen life of awareness of the suffering of the world, of those with coronavirus but also the suffering occurring and soon to be occurring regarding climate change and extinction of species (our own not excluded). Aquinas invokes the apostle Paul with an image found in Isaiah 60 (1): ‘Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem; for your light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. ‘Rise from a neglect of good works, you who sleep. ‘How long will you sleep, O sluggard?’ (Prov. 6:9) ‘Shall he that sleep rise again no more?’ (Ps 41:9).”
In other words, to be a mystic, is to undergo resurrection. Maybe this is what Mechtild of Magdeburg meant when she said “the day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw and knew I saw all things in God and God in all things.” If resurrection has been democratized, so has mysticism. And vice versa.
We are asleep if we “neglect good works.” We come awake and resurrect when we participate in good work.
Says Aquinas: “There is a double resurrection, one of the body, when the soul rejoins body, the other spiritual, when soul reunited to God. Christ’s bodily resurrection produces both in us—though he himself never rose again spiritually, for he had never been separated from God.” Our being asleep is being separated from God. It is also succumbing to acedia, the capital sin we often translate as sloth but that has a far richer meaning that includes depression, despair, passivity, boredom–in short couchpotato-itis. Aquinas defines acedia as “the lack of energy to begin new things.” We find it everywhere today, it is a “sign of our times,” and that is why we created a new word for it, namely couchpotato-itis.
Its cure is Waking Up. When we fall in love with life we live this life fully both as mystics and as prophets. Then we are awake and risen and have undergone our first Resurrection. Upon dying, the second resurrection takes care of itself.
Mysticism is also Meister Eckhart talking about “breakthrough” when he says “In breakthrough I learn that God and I are one.” Mysticism is about oneing (Julian of Norwich’s term). Our union with self, cosmos, others, God
Mysticism is Resurrection and Resurrection is Mysticism for Aquinas and Mechtild, Eckhart and Julian. Us too?
Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times, 167-169.
See also Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth
Do you agree with Aquinas that Waking Up and Resurrection are the same thing? How are you becoming more awakened in this time of coronavirus and beyond?
Do you agree with Aquinas that Waking Up and Resurrection are the same thing? How are you becoming more awakened in this time of coronavirus and beyond? 19.