Greek Myths and Christian Mystery

By Hugo S. J. Rahner | Go to book overview
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THE spiritual trail we have followed has reached the summit. From the dark womb of the mysteries we have painfully ascended, by way of the healing of souls, to that sweet home-coming which in holy Homer's mythical scenes enabled us to see the goal which endowed all our upward climbing with divine meaning. Let us now strip the knowledge out of which the Christian interpretation of Greek myths was born, of the bright imagery which surrounded it, let us put aside all the learned references and texts which I had more or less of necessity to introduce, and let us try and touch this thing of which the longing of Greek and Christian humanists sought to lay hold -- τ γυμnu; nu; tau; sgmav; lambda;eta; ε ας χ λλος -- the naked beauty of truth.

We can discern three things that we have learnt and they correspond to the three stages of our ascent; all show us in what dire straits we barbarians of today are living, yet they also provide the physic that can aid our recovery.

The first of these pieces of knowledge came to us when we glanced at the mysteries. That which the pious genius of Hellas vaguely guessed at was, ere that genius was utterly dead, brought home by the Church into the light of that divine revelation of which she is the guardian. The Church was "heir to the glories that only slept with open eyes".

Without mystery all religion must wither into barren rationalism. The Church alone has retained the element of mystery: by her sacraments she has consecrated sun, moon, water, bread, wine and oil and also the love of the flesh, nor will it ever be permitted to her to cease teaching mankind that behind the veils of the visible the eternal secrets lie concealed, and that it is only through the word of God which lives on in the Church, that we can recognize the true meaning of earthly things.

Since the West has turned away from the custodian of mystery it has died of the utter sterility of its pure intellectualism. Only



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