|Francis at the Israeli separation wall in Bethlehem, May 25, 2014|
Over the weekend I was glued to the Pope App on my phone as Francis made his way around the Middle East. On the plane back to Rome last night he gave one of his hour long "off the cuff" press conferences with journalists. The journalists asked him if he had planned many of the symbolic gestures that were made during the trip. Francis' reply is getting very close to what I intuit as "pure act":
“The most genuine gestures are those which are made spontaneously. I had thought something could be done but none of the concrete gestures I made was conceived that way. Some things, like the invitation to the two presidents we had thought of doing there, during the visit, but there were lots of logistical problems, many, the place where we intended for it to happen was not an easy one. But in the end, the invitation was accepted and I hope the meeting will go well. But my gestures were not pre-planned, I just do what comes to me spontaneously. Just to clarify about the meeting in the Vatican. The purpose of the meeting will be to pray not meditate. The two presidents and I will only meet to pray and I believe that prayer is important and doing this helps. Then they will go home. There will be a rabbi, a Muslim and me. I have asked the Custody of the Holy land to deal with the practical side of things.”
(quoted from the Vatican Insider HERE)
Lax says it best:
“… I think it’s what Merton is saying about prayer, - whatever it is, anything in it that is an impurity, that is anything but the act itself, which is practically unnamable. And if it is what it should be, then the poetry is prayer, the acrobatic act is prayer.
“Pure act, I think it’s a metaphysical concept starting with Aristotle and flowering in St. Thomas that God is pure act and that there is no POTENTIA in Him. But that almost everything else in the universe is IN POTENTIA, it’s on its way to being pure act, on its way to unity with God. But only God is pure act. And that made me think about a lot of things. One of them is that business of the purity of an acrobatic performance, of any performance, at the point where it becomes really pure, is at its closest to the divine and closest to that unity.”
“Throwing everything away except the act itself, and I think at that point it also joins with the ideas of Zen, that everything is right here in this moment, and all those same things are being thrown away in what they describe as the Zen act. So if you were living in that kind of purity or call it action, it would be close to the kingdom of heaven. (p. 437-438)