Matter articulate

From the epilogue of Denys Turner’s biography of St. Thomas Aquinas:

Thomas’s matter speaks, it overflows with meaning. For what are human beings but matter articulate, animals that in speaking make sounds utter, and in writing make literate shapes?…

Articulate animals that were are, our bodies speak to one another, and through word and gesture we share in friendship the universe we inhabit. And it is through that same materiality of speech that the body of Christ is in converse with the world, the Word spoken to us as food and food given to us as Word spoken, as body speaks to body, as friend speaks to friend.

If…central to Thomas’s philosophy of mind and body is the idea of ‘matter articulate’, then we can see why central to his theological perspectives is the Eucharist. For if ever matter were made articulate, if ever there could be a limit case of matter bearing meaning and becoming what it declares, if ever there were an ultimate possibility of bodily presence through sign, it will be if so elementary a form of life-giving matter as bread and wine can be made to carry the meaning of the whole of salvation history (the Eucharist)…[which is] food breaking out into wholly unexpected realms of meaning, once again the thing through which the divine action being called upon to surpass itself, food supererogatorily [gratuitously] being called upon to mean more than you can possibly say. Thus it is that for Thomas in the Eucharist is to be found all the work done which there is for the theologian to do.”

Catholic eucharistic theology [words about how bread and wine can presence God in matter] lay the groundwork for what Teilhard de Chardin would call his ‘Mass on the World’: the view that all the cosmos is the sacred body of God. If this view is true, then we human beings, made as we are from the dust of the stars, are that through which the body of God finally wakes up and speaks. When we speak, God speaks, When we act, God acts.

We are all Matter articulate and Mind incarnate.

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