Lifting Up the World: Dr. David Fagerberg’s Lecture “Making the World Whole”

by on June 18, 2015

Dr. David Fagerberg delivered the last of his Paluch Lectures at the University Club of Chicago on May 26. The title of his lecture was “Making the World Whole: A Sacrificial Vision of Ordinary Life.” The purpose of the talk was to help us see the inner connection between the world, the Church, and the Liturgy.

Often seen in separation, Dr. Fagerberg presented to us the Chruch’s seamless vision of the whole, a truly “Catholic” vision, i.e. “according to the whole.” Most of us have unfortunately lost this vision, tending to see the faith in separation from the world. While conceptual clarity is a good thing there lurks the danger of separating what is inherently related. For example, man’s rules of logic fail when standing before the mystery of the Trinity. You just cannot slice and dice the Trinity. The Son is inherently related to the Father and the Father is related to the Son. Any definition that lacks the other is insufficient. Such a balancing act is what, I beleive, Dr. Fagerberg is calling us to accomplish when thinking about the world, the Church and the liturgy. As Dr. Fagerberg says “the difference between them does not divide them into pieces.” In order to accomplish this he brought us the precinct of the Temple.

The Temple, in its architecture and its rituals, embodied and supported the Biblical worldview. In the Bible, God descended in the Shekinah (Cloud of Glory) to renew and restore creation, human society, and every individual. The sacred was not confined to Temple, but flowed out of the Temple and into the world, with the purpose of ordering each creature back to God. While the sacred and profane are distinct, the profane receives its meaning from the sacred. Dr. Fagerberg showed us that the word ‘profane’ is from pro (before) and fano, the ablative of fanum (temple). In this context we should think of the profane as finding its destiny in the sacred instead of forever being its opposite. Elsewhere, Dr. Fagerberg has said, “The fanum (“temple”) is the destiny of the pro-fanum (what stands outside the temple), destined for the temple, waiting to get in.” The sacred perfects the profane. This is why the Liturgy – through the Mystical Body of the Church – perfects the world.

Dr. Fagerberg likes Wittgenstein’s picture theory of meaning. To better grasp the meaning of the relationship between the world, the Church, and the Liturgy Dr. Fagerberg drew for us a mental picture of Archimedes lever. Archimedes believed that if you gave him a lever at any length and a point outside the world to step on he could move the world. But how could he step off the thing he lives on (the world) in order to move it? How could he operate the lever if he had no footing? In philosophy this became known as the Archimedian point. Dr. Fagerberg said that the Archimedian point is the liturgy. It is beyond the profane while at the same time bringing the profane into its eschatological fulfillment. The Church is the fulcrum. Dr. Fagerberg repeatedly mentioned Fr. Aidan Kavanagh’s saying that, “Liturgy is doing the world the way the world was meant to be done.” Through the Liturgy and Sacrifice, God lifts the world to its “proper eschatological proportions.”

Dr. Fagerberg concluded the lecture by asking all the laity at the lecture to go out and eden-ize the world after they have participated in the Divine Life made present in the Liturgy. Remember that Mundelein is forming priests who will lead us in the Liturgy that makes the world whole. Please pray for us and our seminarians.

Finally, Dr. Fagerberg’s lecture nicely complements Pope Francis new encyclical Laudato Si. Keep in mind Dr. Fagerberg’s lecture when reading the encyclical.