Friday, February 11, 2011

Fr. Divry's Explanation of the Tabor Light 1

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VERY Roughly translated from the French in pp. 425-426 of Fr. Édouard Divry, O.P., La Transfiguration selon l'Orient et l'Occident:

Our solution adopted in order to explain the Light of Tabor
In his Seven Canonical Epistles, Nicholas of Gorran (†1295), in a text very close to the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas but posterior to it, carefully posed to us the problem of the Light seen in the Transfiguration, considered in its twofold intelligibility: "I believe that this light was glorious by an analogical similitude, not univocally. Indeed, this was a light formed (formata) in the body by the divinity (a divinitate) that the Apostles apprehended by their external senses. Through this light that their eyes were seeing, they understood by their intellect (intellexerunt) the light of glory that they, however, did not see with their fleshly eyes."1309 We will continue to comment on these two levels perceived by Nicholas of Gorran: the visible light witnessed by the senses, and the light of glory that is invisible but grasped by the intellect.

St. Thomas effectively distinguishes the subject (subjectum) and the term (terminus) of all that is attributed to the Son, and, in so doing, he distinguishes the divine Person (Persona) as the subject, and the human nature (natura) as the term. He uses this distinction particularly in the case of the movement (motus) of the human nativity (nativitas).1310 Applying this analogically to the case of the light of the Transfiguration, we say that the term of movement of the Transfiguration consists in the shining visible light (claritas), and that the subject of movement of the Transfiguration goes back to a Personal property--the spiration a Filio--, then in obliquo back to the very Person of the Word.1311

If the three Apostles grasped, through their sufficiently spiritualized senses, that at the Transfiguration it was the divine glory, it means that they were able to understand also that the luminous visible quality is not numbered analogically with a property of the Person of the Son, grasped in their intellect. The underlined phrase in Nicholas of Gorran, "a divinitate," designates first of all the source, the efficient cause, that is to say, God Himself. All theologians, Latin and Eastern, agreed on the first cause, that is, the divine origin of the Transfiguration. Did Christ, in His Soul, participate in this action? Inasmuch as Christ, in His Soul, merited--and He alone merited this--the glorification of His Body,1312 was the pre-glorification of Christ's Body secondarily an effect of His very powerful Soul?1313 Christ's Soul could actually be a second cause of the illumination of His Body, thereby causing, inwardly by itself, a reinforcement of an illuminating form for the Body representing a Personal property as in similitude. This is the main finding of this chapter, as a Thomist extension.


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