In looking for the context of this statement of Ireneus’s I discovered that it is actually used in the new Catholic catechism. I like it there so much I will copy and paste it below.
As I suspected, the statement “The glory of God is man fully alive,” taken out of context can be deceiving. It seems to imply that the way to glorify God is to just be yourself and follow your heart. Now, being yourself is very important — just look at what happens when you try to be someone else — but it’s important to remember that the only way to truly be yourself, a created being, is through and for the One who created you.
The glory of God is man fully alive, but man fully alive is man glorifying God.
But I have better words waiting in my clipboard.
|ARTICLE NO. 293
Scripture and Tradition never cease to teach and celebrate this fundamental truth: “The world was made for the glory of God.” St. Bonaventure explains that God created all things “not to increase His glory, but to show it forth and to communicate it,” for God has no other reason for creating than His love and goodness: St. Thomas expresses it thusly. “Creatures came into existence when the key of love opened His hand.” The First Vatican Council explains:
This one, true God, of his own goodness and “almighty power,” not for increasing his own beatitude, nor for attaining his perfection, but in order to manifest this perfection through the benefits which he bestows on creatures, with absolute freedom of counsel “and from the beginning of time, made out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal…”
ARTICLE NO. 294
The glory of God consists in the realization of this manifestation and communication of His goodness, for which the world was created. God made us “to be His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace,”(Eph. 1:5-6) for as St Irenaeus states; “the glory of God is man fully alive; moreover man’s life is the vision of god: if God’s revelation through creation has already obtained life for all the beings that dwell on earth, how much more will the Word’s manifestation of the Father obtain life for those who see God.” The ultimate purpose of creation is that God “who is the creator of all things may at last be all in all, thus simultaneously assuring His own glory and our beatitude.”(1 Cor.15: 28)
gorgeous. gorgeous. gorgeous.
“The Glory of God is man fully alive.”
I once read NT Wright desperately trying to understand the horrors of hell in light of the God he loves. Personally I think he did an abysmal job, but what the hell do I know? Anyway, eventually he decides that there must come a point when some human beings refuse God’s grace over and over and over until finally God rejects them. So crippled by their choice against God, they cannot be recognized as the creatures God created them to be, all vestiges of the imago dei suffocated by rebellion. For all intents and purposes, he says, they cease to be HUMAN.
Of course I don’t really follow his logic quite as far as he does, but he is on to something. Man fully alive is man in reception of God’s free grace, bestowed on whosoever will.
Would it be more accurate to say: To the extent a person rejects the grace of God, the image of God in him is vitiated and his humanity shrinks? He may not necessarily act in an “inhuman” manner; but the absence of the True Life of God, which is in Jesus Christ (John 1:4-5) enables that very absence to continue and prevail in him: It’s only by the presence of that Life the absence can be removed! (For the grace of God = Jesus Christ as grace is not a celestial commodity dispensd by God but God’s giving of Himself to us in Jesus).
A person ever ceasing to be HUMAN, to my reckoning, is impossible. In a strict sense, we all live “partially human” lives as we no longer possess the fullnesss of the image of God (Humanity) in us. But the good news is that the Holy Spirit living in us is restoring that image!
By giving us the Holy Spirit to indwell us, God has granted us to share in His divinity, and in sharing in His divinity, we are becoming fully human (Restoration of the divine image)!
Great meditations! Thus the Canticle of Zechariah is a celebration of freedom … “for he has come to set his people free” … “free to worship him without fear.” That freedom presents the opportunity to become fully alive through union with Christ. Yet, it is possible to choose the absence of God to prevail. This latter course is represented by Nietzsche’s protege, the “free-woman” Lou Andreas-Salomé, who, in her godless quest to be authentically human, reaches her hour of death and says: “If I let my thoughts roam I find no one. The best, after all, is death.”
Compare that with: “In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Shalom!
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A few years ago, during a seminar on the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, Fr John McDade, SJ, the then Principal of Heythrop College, London was asked the question, “Is it not human to sin?” His answer is an eye-opener for all of us: “No, not at all because we were not created to sin, but to worship”.
The word worship is a much misunderstod by a great many. Often it is perceived as an act of abject submission akin to what people in a despotic regime may offer to teh tyrant. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Worship is an invitation to live in a loving and fulfilling relationship with teh very God who is both our Creator and Father! Or it may also be understood as an invitation to a mariatal relationship as existing between a husband and a wife.
It is, then, in such an intimate, loving and open relationship that the fullness of humanity can and will be restored thus revealing the glory of God. And it is here that true freedom, as expressed by Zechariah in the Benedictus, comes into play.
“Free to worship Him without fear all the days of our life.”
In Jesus we are indeed set free by His love, which Paul tells us has been ppoured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:5). “If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed”. (John 8:36)
And, “Perfect love casts out fear.” (I John 4:18)
It is this life of divine love that God offers us through Jesus Christ by His Holy Spirit to all who shall desire it.
I found your note while searching for the quotation: The glory of God is man fully human. My wife had it turned around a bit and thought it was in the psalms. I clicked on the picture that looked like it came from “The Little Prince” and up came your bio-reflection. I found it quite insightful and very human. Having been a “doer” all my long life, learning to breathe ‘being” is forever the challenge.
Thanks for the comment, Reg! It makes me happy that the little prince (or the thought of him) brought someone to my blog.
I came across Ireneus’ quote several years ago, and loved it. It came near the beginning of my journey – a journey I still joyfully embrace – of discovering the glory of God in all of life. I stumbled onto your blog just now while searching for the author of the quote. I am preparing to teach a Bible class to highschool students focused on living for the glory of God, and I loved your thoughts on the quote. I’m saving this page. Blessings on your journey!
Hi Brian, thanks for stopping by! Blessings to you, too.
I had heard this quote before but did not know who said it. I did a search and picked your blog to read. I especially like what you wrote after the quote and before the notes from the CCC…”man fully alive is man glorifying God”
Peace be with you,
Jessica- (and others who found her blog like I did!)
I also googled Irenaeus’ quote and stumbled on your blog! And….I also love your follow up comment “Man Fully alive is Man Glorifying God….”
Wonderful stuff! Hope you don’t mind….I’ve mentioned you over here at http://www.mmienuroom.com … Thank you for your heart and insight!
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