Thursday, January 26, 2006

How Solitude Prepares Man for Communion

We left last time discussing Original Solitude, and how it is through the dual nature of solitude (of man being literally alone, no woman to complete the meaning of being human; and of man being distinct from the rest of creation through the fact that he comes to self-discovery that he is distinct by naming the animals). We have an idea of what Original Solitude is, now we will see what it prepares us for.

Man cannot be understood without understanding the call to enter a covenant with God, a covenant of love. This is an immensely personal covenant, one that is experienced at the very core of the human person. Man is dignified to such an extent that God willfully gives over a gift to man to enter that eternal, loving communion, something no other creature could possibly share. God has made us for Himself! This gift from God, in all its immensity and mystery, explains to us who we are.

In order to enter this covenant, man must be able to willfully enter into it. This demands a choice, which is why there is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It is that choice, we can choose to enter God's covenant fully, or we can choose to reject Him. Man ends up seeing the tree as the answer to that deep longing, they listen to the devil and are fooled. They eat of it and their world perspective becomes distorted. They see solitude no longer as a good thing, proper to prepare us for intimate loving communion, but now it is something that hinders our own personal progress, and thus it is no longer solitude, but is loneliness. This is why Adam was alone first, why both Adam and Eve were not created at the same time, he had to prepare himself for that communion. The same goes for us nowadays. And this will also be applied to those in the religious life. That life of solitude is not bad, it is a great preration for that reality of eternal communion with God. Loneliness is the result of sin's distortion of our world perspective.

And so, it is this freedom that makes for us the ability to have eternal life with God. We must choose, no one can choose for us. Adam and Eve had two choices, they could eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or they could eat of the tree of eternal life. They chose to live apart from God. Adam, also, had a perfect understanding of what was meant by death. Just as we can contrast our own experiences with those of Original Man by reflecting on our own experiences, so too can Original Man, by reflecting on his own experiences and knowledge, contrast who is compared to God. Adam knew God, and knew that he was a limited being, dependent on God. If this is the case, he could see that he could have the opportunity of no longer living, it was all dependent on God.

Man, therefore, is, at the very essence of his being, defined by his relationship of dependence and partnership with God. Man is defined according to his relation to God. We are dependent because we have been created by God and are creatures, but we are in a partnership because God freely gives us a covenant of love in which we may participate in.

Man also comes to a deep understanding of who is through the very experience of his body! Man is formed out of the dust of the earth and God breaths His Spirit into man. Man is a person constituting a body and a soul, intimately intertwined. Thus, through the very experience of his body, man comes to learn of who God is and, it follows, who he is.

If the invisible has control over the visible, as is true with who we are, so too, then, does the visible express the invisible. Our bodies reveal that invisible reality of who we are. The body is transparent and penetrable in a certain degree so that it makes clear who man is.

This is why Adam saw none of the animals fit to be helpers for him. He knew, through his own experience of himself in his solitude, that his helper that would be fit for him would reveal to him through her body the inner depths of her personhood, of who she is and who she is meant to be! This is an awesome and beautiful mystery, one that we cannot fully comprehend. Furthermore, through the experience of his body in solitude, Adam sees that it is not fit for him to be alone. His very body expresses the reality that he is built to be in a communion of love with another! How beautiful is this?

It is thus through this Original Solitude that man is able to see that he is fit for another, to have a loving communion with another. This will come about with the creation of woman. His body anticipates that original unity which Adam and Eve will experience in which the "two will become one flesh". To bring this to an applicable side quickly, this is why it is good to have solitude, to see how we are fit to give ourselves completely to another through our vocation. For some it is in marriage (in fact, this is the most common case). However, for others, the vocation can be one of giving themselves completely over, seeing their body is made for that loving union between male and female, but that we are also made for a greater communion, that communion that is eternal and loving with God.

I have a note in my book here that I wish to share with everyone that can be applied to what has been discussed. We have seen how solitude prepares us for communion. I'm going to do a quick bit of application, though I'm sure this will be discussed in more depth with regards to the cycle on Religious Life. I put down that the religious life, priesthood, and single life is an intense preperation for communion with God because of the fact that these vocations express that eschatological reality.

What this means is that the time of solitude helps us prepare for that deep, personal, and intimate communion we have with the other. All people have that to a certain extent, regardless of their vocation. We are all preparing for that eternal communion with God. However, those who give up marriage for the sake of the kingdom are able to prepare in a more intense way. That is to say, the fact that they give up marriage, they make present on earth that reality which we all will be living in Heaven (the eschatological reality). They thus prepare in a very real and personal way through a life of solitude (from having a spouse) so that they can be as best prepared as possible for that Divine and eternal communion. This will be discussed more much later on, but I wanted to throw it out there. Note, this does not put marriage as a vocation under those called to a celibate life. I just wanted to throw this out there.

Next post will be about a very beautiful, profound, and deep subject, the Creation of Woman. It is one of my personal favourites.


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