Sacred Cosmology in the Christian Tradition (Part III)
The Original Christian World-view
A study of the lives and writings of the great spiritual masters of the First Millennium of the Christian Church — East and West — will show that a sacred cosmology was integral to the Church’s world-view. Salvation, or deification, as the ancient Church and the Orthodox Church of today calls the process of reconciliation with God, was cosmic as well as personal in scope. It included not only human beings but also everything else in the universe, through the reciprocal relationship of the human microcosm with the macrocosm of the created order.
The self-understanding of the ancient Church — the united Christian faith of the first thousand years — shows a complex and subtle relationship between Church and cosmos. For the sacred cosmology of the early Church — the traces or vestiges of which still can be found in the Orthodox Church today — showed that not only was the Church imbedded in the cosmos, but that the cosmos was imbedded in the Church.
St. Maximos the Confessor describes the teaching of his own spiritual master (to whom he refers as “the great elder”) on the Church:
“On a second level of contemplation, he [the great elder] used to speak of God’s Holy Church as a figure and image [ikon] of the entire cosmos, composed of visible and invisible essences, because, like it, it contains unity and diversity… in this way the entire world of beings produced by God in creation is divided into a spiritual world filled with intelligible and incorporeal essences and into this sensible and bodily world which is ingeniously woven together of many forms and natures.”
In the new order inaugurated by the Incarnation of Christ, the Church is the new cosmos. The Church is the Body of Christ, which is the new creation. As such, the Church is the destiny of the cosmos. The Church is the cosmos becoming itself, what it truly is to be — its end — as intended by God. The mission of the Church is the mission of Christ, which is the reconciliation, unification and glorification, not only of human beings, but of all things in the universe.
But how can this knowledge become an effective force for protecting God’s Creation? This challenge is a form of asking how the knowledge of a cosmically-enlightened ancient tradition actually gives believers the power to transform our world.
How, in short, in the Christian tradition does information become knowledge, become wisdom, become transfigured life? The answer to that challenge lies in the nature and method of Christian spiritual practice. The art of Christian Creation-keeping is an aspect of the Christian spiritual way.
~By Vincent Rossi, Sacred Cosmology in the Christian Tradition, taken from Business Life (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2465/is_1_30/ai_59520591/?tag=content;col1). Vincent Rossi is an Eastern Orthodox theologian and environmentalist, and founder of Epiphany Journal, a quarterly on traditional Christian spirituality. He is an Associate of World Stewardship Institute in Santa Rosa, California.