11/25/2009, 00.00
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Pope: history is not the result of chance, God is present and works within it

Illustrating the figures of two theologians Hugh and Richard of St. Victor during the general audience Benedict XVI said: "How different world would be if relationships were lived according to the example of the three divine persons in which each lives for the other, with the other, and in the other. Only love makes us happy because we live to love and be loved".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - History is not the result of "blind fate or chance." In it "there is surprising and salvific intervention of God who enters history, is part of the story, but saves the freedom and responsibility of man". So said  Hugh of St Victor, one of the medieval theologians of whom which Benedict XVI spoke during the general audience. And today, to the eight thousand people present in the audience hall, Benedict XVI spoke of two members of the monastery of St. Victor in Paris, where "a happy synthesis between monastic theology intent on contemplation of Scripture and scholastic theology that employed reason to scrutinize such mysteries" was represented by Hugh and Richard.

There is little information available about Hugh. It is known that around 1116 he entered the abbey of St. Victor, "first as a pupil and then as a teacher." In De sacramentis and Didascalion  Hugh supported the congruence between reason and faith. "He thought a lot about the relationship between faith and reason," saying that "all the sciences in addition to their value to read Sacred Scripture, have value in themselves in order to broaden the knowledge of man and respond to his longing to know the truth." "Never restrict, he said, the desire to learn. Learn from everything that you do not know and you will be wiser".  The monks of the abbey of St Victor, saw theology as a "loving study of Sacred Scripture". "To know God one must start from what God has chosen to reveal of himself through Scripture" . Hugh stated that Scripture has "a literal historical sense, then allegorical, analogical, and moral. Four dimensions of the meaning of Scripture that today are being rediscovered".

While respecting the four dimensions, "in an original way compared to his contemporaries he insisted on the importance of historical-literal sense of Scripture, so before you discover the symbolic value and the moral teaching of Bible stories, we must know and deepen the meaning of history as told in Scripture''.  Otherwise, the Pope observed, quoting the monk “we risk being like  scholars of grammar who ignore the alphabet. " "Those who know the meaning of history in the Bible, human events appear marked by Providence. Thus history is not the result of blind fate or chance, the Holy Spirit is at work in history, inspiring the marvellous dialogue between God and men".  "The surprising and salvific intervention of God who enters history, is part of history, but saving the freedom and responsibility of man. "

Study, then, "makes theology itself possible, ie the systematic revelation of truth." Hugh of St. Victor, said the Pope, is credited with "the definition of sacrament which when further refined offers interesting ideas." He shows that in the sacrament there are the three elements of divine institution, grace, and the analogy between visible and invisible elements, "the visibility of the symbol, the embodiment of the gift, which hides the divine grace."  

Even Richard, who was a pupil of Hugh, and, originally from Scotland became the prior of  Saint Victor to his death in 1172, gives a central role to the study of theology, but, unlike his master, he privileges the symbolic meaning. He dedicated two works to Benjamin seen as a symbol of contemplation, the summit of spiritual life. "A path that calls monks to practice the various virtues, regulate their emotions with reason" in order to arrive at contemplation, "the souls profound reflection on the wonders of the depths of Wisdom." Contemplation, therefore, is the "culmination of a hard journey that involves dialogue between faith and reason." It is important today", said the Pope, that "liturgical animation, and especially priests, enhance their sacramental rites with pastoral wisdom, carefully taking care of the catechesis, so that every celebration of the sacraments may be experienced by all the faithful with devotion, intensity and spiritual joy".

Of Richard, in particular, the Pope recalled the Trinity, which he called "one of the great books of history." In six volumes he stated that "God is love", but warned that "love is still an analogy for dialogue about a mystery that goes beyond the human mind". "The perfection of happiness and goodness does not allow exclusivism and closure”. The Trinity is a "model of love, it is really perfect communion." "Love carries out this incessant miracle, plurality comes together in unity." Trinitarian love is participation and agreement, it is communication, oblation and direction among three Persons". 

"How much the world would change - concluded the pope - if relationships lived the example of the three divine persons in which each lives for the other, with the other, and in the other. Only love makes us happy because we live to love and be loved".

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