Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Heaven's Song (in progress)

On this week's snow day, I was able to go to the Holy Hour at my church and spend some time with our Lord. I brought with me the borrowed copy of Heaven's Song, by Christopher West. I'm not now going to review the book, as I plan to do that in another post when I'm finished. However, I do want to share one thing that struck me.

John Paul II, inspired by St. Louis de Montfort recognizes Mary as the bride in the Song of Songs, further seeing her as the New Eve. Check out this comparison:

"So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate" (Gen 3:6). Interestingly, the woman of the Song also speaks of a tree that was "good for food," or taking delight in it, and of eating its sweet fruit: "As an apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow and his fruit was sweet to my taste" (2:3). Eve sins and the woman of the Song doesn't. What's the difference? It is that of grasping at the fruit versus receiving it as a gift....It seems the precise sin, then, was not the eating of the fruit of this particular tree....Rather, the sin seems to be the doubting of God's benevolence, the doubting and denial of his love, the doubting of his gift. We want the knowledge of good and evil ("the tree was good for food...a delight to the eyes...to be desired to make one wise," Gen 3:6), but we don't believe God will give us such knowledge, so we grasp....If the bride in the Song is a type of Mary, then this New Eve has redeemed the first Eve's sin -- not by refusing to eat the fruit, but by refusing to grasp at it. Eve doubed the gift, yet still yearning for it, she reached out to take it for herself; the New Eve believed in the gift, and "waited on the Lord" in her yearning. What Eve took to herself, the New Eve received as a gift from God.

This ties in quite well with the (Augustinian?) notion that we never seek evil when we sin, but rather, we are always seeking after something good through perverted means or in degraded or impartial form. We steal out of need or desire for goods; we cheat to gain prosperity or freedom from constraint; we abort babies to avoid discomfort or pain. It is rarely out of pure malice that we choose evil; even then we are seeking the pleasure of the rush that such actions might bring. Good things are not in themselves the ends that justify any means. Like virtues, they must be in the proper context: the right way, in the right amount, at the right time with the right attitude.

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