From “Paradoxes of Faith”
by Henri de Lubac, 1896-1991
Before it can be adapted in its presentation to the modern generation, Christianity in all necessity must, in its essence, be itself. And once it is itself, it is close to being adapted. For it is of its essence to be living and always of the time.
The big task consists then in rediscovering Christianity in its plenitude and in its purity. A task which is always and ceaselessly called for, just as the work of reform inside the Church itself is called for always and ceaselessly. For even though Christianity is eternal, we are never once and for all identified with its eternity. By a natural leaning, we never cease losing it. Like God himself; it is always there, present in its entirety, but it is we who are always more or less absent from it. It escapes us in the very measure that we believe we possess it. Habit and routine have an unbelievable power to waste and destroy.
But how should we rediscover Christianity if not by going back to its sources, trying to recapture it in its periods of explosive vitality? How should we rediscover the meaning of so many doctrines and institutions which always tend toward dead abstraction and formalism in us, if not by trying to touch anew the creative thought that achieved them? How many explorations into distant history such research supposes! How many painful reconstructions, themselves preceded by long preliminary work! In a word, how much “archaeology”! The task is not for everyone, obviously, but it is indispensable that it be done and forever done again. Let us not think that it is possible to reach the goal cheaply: to try that would be a kind of fraud, and when it comes to essential goods, the crook is never successful.
It took forty years in the desert to enter into the Promised Land. It sometimes takes a lot of arid archaeology to make the fountains of living water well forth anew.