Lacoste on Good Friday

Good Friday is the nightscape that best illustrates Jean-Yves Lacoste’s phenomenology of liturgy. On Lacoste’s view, liturgy arises from our decision to expose ourselves to our present nonexperience of God. In Experience and the Absolute, Lacoste writes why the event of God is shrouded in mystery:

[T]o try to live somewhere other than the world in order to find the Kingdom is in fact to live nowhere. Or to put it in other terms: its unhappiness, in contrast to that of whoever knows how to interpret the event of Good Friday, lies in its unawareness of the fact that being-in-the-world and being-before-God are thoroughly intertwined.

Lacoste is most famous for what Jean-Luc Marion calls his ‘correction to the existential analytic’. Joeri Schrijvers starts with works of art and powerful affect, experiences that demand our attention and install a primacy of the present. Does art, powerful concern for others, etc. belong to “the they” for Heidegger? It seems so. In Being and Time, “the they” tranquilize us before the trauma of death (BT §51), presumably through love and care. But, paradoxically, the Heideggerian concept of Befindlichkeit also involves Dasein in a the future-oriented structure of being-in-the-world as care. 

Lacoste sees The Origin of the Work of Art (1935) as a turning-point in Heidegger’s thought that is at least as important as the vaunted Kehre. The appearance of the ‘earth’ re-enchants the world, but it also opens the possibility for a non-place, neither Dasein’s anxious world nor man’s sacred earth. Human being seems fascinated by the limits of the world. Love is excessive, purposeless, and paradoxical. But it is the key for Lacoste to understand. Faith, Lacoste writes, the the phenomenology of what is lovable. Liturgy is a non-experience because it is exceeds intentionality; faith is the foolishness that knows (via trusting love) that the kenosis of Good Friday will be followed by Easter Sunday.

The prayerful should not measure their success by counting glimmers of theophany, but by their faithfulness in keeping vigil for the Lord.

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