For fuller reference and prerequisite, see the essays before this one similarly titled this week, daily installations.
STUDENT: Ok, so we were going to apply this to the Joyful Mysteries.
TEACHER: >Thank you, but actually, I think it would behoove us to explore this current theology a bit deeper to see that it is not arbitrary but even more ordered and meaningful than we have currently. Moreover, if greater rigor can be seen, the argument for its application to the forthcoming Joyful Mysteries will be all the more plausible.
STUDENT: >Great. What did you have in mind?
TEACHER: > Well, we can also note, that St Methodius of Olympus basically maps out our days of creation as well. He testifies of the ages of the world: “Five are the ages of the Old Law. The sixth is designated to the Church, to labor against sin and heresy. The seventh is the Millennium of rest, and the eighth is Eternity.”
STUDENT: >Hold it right there. Isn’t the idea of a “Millennium of rest” the heresy of chiliasm, which Augustine and the Church condemned?
TEACHER: >You are right. Some early Fathers, in applying the theology of the days of creation, saw Apocalypse 20 as literal, that Jesus would literally come back in Resurrected form to rule the nations for a literal thousand years of physical paradise and with the literal resurrected just. Then, after this “literal millennium”, the damned would be resurrected, there would be a final confrontation, and then the final judgment and end of time. Admittedly, this is condemned by the Church.
St Augustine gave a solution that enabled Apocalypse to remain in the canon: for Him, and the Church’s long-standing tendency, the Millennium can be seen as a symbolic, spiritual period, as the >whole> era of the Church, Her spiritual reign through the souls of the martyrs who come to life again in the living Church on earth countless times. The resurrection of the just at the commencement of the Millennium symbolizes all of our spiritual resurrections at Baptism, which causes us to die with Christ and rise to new life by the washing away of our Original Sin and the infusion of Divine life. During this time of missionary activity, the dragon is restrained by the Church’s evangelization and self-same renewing activity. At the close of the Church’s age of bringing the Gospel to maturity, the dragon goes forth from his prison at the great apostasy, seducing humanity to darkness. Here, the Christ then literally returns to destroy the age of sin and usher in the world that will never end.
To be sure, this interpretation is fine the way it is. However, we can ask, does it provide the greatest depth of the meaning of human history?
STUDENT: >Ok, but so then how do we interpret the millennium of rest in the context St Methodius?
TEACHER: >Like this: even though the Church has tended toward the Augustinian solution above, there is a secondary solution that will fit our needs that the Church has never condemned. In this view, the Millennium is still figurative, a spiritual period of peace, and is not necessarily a literal thousand years. The reign of Jesus is spiritual, not literally on earth in a resurrected, direct revelatory presence. BUT, unlike Augustine, it is not the >whole> age of the Church but rather this >partial> age toward the end, this age of peace that is coming in our time that we have just discussed. In this way, the resurrections on either end of the figurative Millennium are figurative too, basically of spiritual light and darkness, respectively: the resurrection of faith and goodness in the world on the left end, and the resurrection of darkness and apostasy on the right end, the great apostasy.
For this, I argue in my book that the scenes of the dragon in Apocalypse >before> this Millennial scene of chapter 20 can be describing, at least one layer of meaning, the more tumultuous time in Church history, the last 2000 years or so, where the dragon is active and has not yet been supremely defeated in the way he will this side of the end of time by that same renewal in the age of peace. The Dragon: >http://www.theologyoftheages.com/home.php?target=dragon-woman-millennium
In fact, this secondary view of the Millennium is just giving us a refined view of Church history, showing that rather than there being merely a general period of gray between pagan Rome and Antichrist of the end, this age has two sub ages: an initial period of intense suffering for the Church from laboring to spread the Gospel against perpetual resistance of sin, error, and heresy, and then a second age of rest: Christian unity and a world that freely embraces the Catholic Gospel with little to no resistance. This then shows the Church really does have a day six and seven, and not just a general day.
In fact, as well, this is really a reflection of the way the Church understand the Ways of the Saint then vs now. Then, that is, in Augustine’s day, the Church saw the illuminative and unitive ways more or less fully interwoven and mingled. They didn’t know about the dark night of the soul. Now, a thousand and more years later, we have a better picture: whereas purgation has a small amount of illuminative and untiive ways present in its stage, and whereas the illuminative way has small amounts of purgation and union present, the reality is, the illuminative way is a general way that comes >second> in the process, and the untiive way comes >third>. They are not fully commingled into a general phase. Rather, the saint goes through a general way of illumination with some purification and some unitive aspects, but it is itself primarily illumination. Then, at the conclusion of this illuminative way, the dark night of the soul enters in, and, after this, a period of general union, with a lesser amount of illumination and no purgation. This unitive way is truly a distinguished successor to the illumination. It is a period in which the saint walks every step with the will of God, just as in the age of peace, the Gentiles veritably walk every step with God.
Again, this perfectly reflects the contrast of Augustine with the Private Revelation scenario: for Augustine, effectively by our model, Church history has two poles of darkness: the dark night of the senses [pagan Rome], and apocalyptic martyrdom [the great apostasy], in between of which lies a general period of gray: a commingled illumination and union, this period being the Millennium. But by the mystics’ scenario, there is a dark night of the soul in the midst of the period of light between pagan Rome and the great apostasy, and it divides the first light from the second light, the first light being gray [mostly illumination with some minor desolations, and some purgation], and the second light be almost entirely light [beautiful union and some illumination], the Millennium.
STUDENT: >Yes, I see what you are saying: as the Church’s understanding of the Way to maturation and holiness becomes deeper, the Church can understand apocalyptic mysteries deeper, so that as Augustine’s day had a limited understanding of the Way in her time, so their understanding of the Millennium was limited, but that, now in modern times we have a renewed understanding of this way, the truer meaning of Milllennium and possibly other Scriptures become clearer.
(for full reference, see Theology of the Ages - The Joyful Mysteries as Image of the Whole of Salvation History)