In the third stage, man goes over into the Divinity, like a drop of wine which falls into a glass of wine. The substance remains, but the form of the individual drop is dissolved into the all-embracing Divine form. You don’t lose your identity, but your identity is a part of the Divine reality into which you fall.
Now here we have two forms of mysticism which must always be distinguished: concrete mysticism, which is mysticism of love and participating in the Savior-God; abstract mysticism, or transcending mysticism, which goes beyond everything finite to the ultimate ground of everything that is.
When we look at these two forms, then we can say that at least for this life, Bernard’s mysticism is in the Christian (tradition). When we ask about the second type, you can say: Now this makes an eternity love impossible. – But we must also add that Paul said something similar when he said that God will be all in all. This means that when we come to the ultimate we cannot simply think in terms of separated individuals, although we still must think in terms of love, and this is not an easy task. In any case the decisive thing is that we now have one man in which more is involved than in Pseudo-Dionysius, namely, it is concrete mysticism, Christ mysticism, love mysticism. But it is still mysticism, because it is participation, and participation always means partly participation and partly identification.
Now I come to the end of this lecture on the early Middle Ages, to another man, Hugh of St. Victor. He was the most inf luential theologian of the 12th century. He was already the fulfiller of systematic thinking, to an extent in which neither Anselm nor Bernard nor Abelard were fulfillers. This man wrote a book, “On the Sacraments of the Christian Faith.” This brings us back to what I said about the sacramental character of the medieval Church. The term ” sacrament” in his book is used in the broadest sense – everything in which the Divine becomes visible; I. e. all works of God are sacraments. If this is the case, he can distinguish two groups of the works of God. He calls them the opera conditionis, the works of condition, and the opera reparationis, the works of reparation. This gives you a deep insight into medieval life. All things are visible embodiments of the invisible ground behind them. Nevertheless this does not lead to – what you are also much afraid of – a pantheistic form of theology, because although all works of God are sacraments, they are concentrated into seven sacraments. And if not only bodily realities, but also activities of God are called sacraments, then you see the full dynamism of this idea of sacrament.
So we have here an interpretation of the world in a dynamic sacramental form, centered around the seven sacraments of the Church, and there again centered around Mass and penance. This is the medieval situation which in people like Hugh of St. Victor already found a rather consistent and sharp expression. Now I see you after Easter again. I wish you a good Easter.
Paul Tillich, A History Of Christian Thought – Table of Contents