From Woman in the Church
by Louis Bouyer,
translated by Marilyn Teichert,
published by the Ignatius Press, San
1979 and reproduced here with the usual permissions.
The objection might be made to the preceding observations that they are based upon symbolic considerations. But to make such an objection would be to forget that all of Biblical revelation, and beyond that the whole sacramental economy, which tends toward the realization of the divine plan for creation, revealed to us in the Word of God, rests on what is fundamentally symbolic in that creation itself, and particularly in human nature. Contemporary psychologists tell us rightly that the crisis with which humanity is struggling today both as a whole and in each man in particular can be attributed above all to the rejection or the misunderstanding of the inborn symbolism of our being and that of the world. For the Church to adapt to this deficiency under the pretext of adapting to the modern world would only prevent her from bringing the world the very thing it most needs today. At the same time, she would be obstructed in the channels of her own proper life of grace, effectively incarnated in a humanity which God created in such a way that it is adapted to this from the outset.
It must be said once again that we are the first to recognize all the insufficiencies and indeed the possible inexactitudes of the present rough sketch. It is our opinion, however, that we do not exaggerate the importance of our work in asking those who read it not to make these weaknesses a pretext for brushing aside the questions posed here, for these questions are questions which are latent in all the reality of human existence and of which Christian revelation has simply revealed the great urgency.
For revelation was formulated for us only in such a way that at the same time unsuspected depths in nature were revealed.
We are all the more conscious that in limiting ourselves to displaying what appear to us as the essentials from the tradition on this matter, we have not even begun to draw from it the multiple applications, whether entirely new or simply renewed, which the present situation in the Church and the world demands. What the Church has done in the past is certainly far from exhausting her present and future possibilities. But to reflect as we have tried to do on the Word of God and all the experience of the Church since the apostles, while shedding light on that which must condemn deviating ways as dead ends in advance, suffices already, we believe, to demonstrate the riches which await us in apparently hidden ways, which are nevertheless the only ways of the Gospel, the only ways which correspond to the instinctive thrust of created nature such as God willed it in order to make it his own.
Abbaye de la Lucerne 31 July 1976
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