One of the features of Commonweal that has kept me a faithful reader and contributor over the years is the seriousness of its attention to theology. The latest example is the insightful article by Ronald Modras in the current issue (April 21st). “Benedict XVI: Then and Now” draws upon lectures on church given by the then Professor Ratzinger in 1968, and shows their continued importance today.
When it comes to journals, exclusively devoted to theology, my personal favorite is Pro Ecclesia: A Journal of Catholic and Evangelical Theology. With its most recent issue (volume XV, no 1), the Journal has a new editor, Reinhardt Huetter, of Duke University, an attractive new format, and a new publisher, Rowman & Littlefield. But its defining commitment to an ecumenical approach to theology, at the service of the life and mission of the church, thankfully, remains steadfast.
Among the riches of the present issue, I would single out R.R. Reno’s article, “Origen and Spiritual Interpretation.” Toward its close, Reno identifies the governing principle of this early church father’s biblical interpretation:
the decisive background assumption that underwrites [Origen's] bold exegetical moves is the belief in the divine economy as the overarching, structuring principle of scripture (and of all reality). If one truly believes that God providentially orders all things toward fulfillment in Christ, then one has a warrant for discerning that providential order at many levels of reality.
Concluding his article, Reno writes:
The purpose of scripture is to draw us into fellowship with the Son, and through the Son with the Father, and to be so drawn we must enter the strenuous disciplines of the cross and allow ourselves to be enrolled in the stretching and reaching necessary for any movement toward the transcendent holinesss of God.
Despite the rhetoric of “participatio actuosa” in the Liturgy, one wonders how fully engaged the people of God, homilist and assembly, are in that “stretching and reaching,” that wrestling with scripture, as we prepare for the Lord’s Day. Too often, as Andre Dubus says: “we are distracted, we run errands.”