The visage: essence, transcendence and presence

Romans 12: 2 (NIV) 

© 2007 Liviu Anastase



  1. The essential nature of the visage


    1. Guarding the essence of the visage – Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world…


The true essence of the human being is in its visage. The visage is ambiguous profile of a supreme presence: the human is pervaded by the divine presence. Surely, the visage is a bivalent reality: it is a mark of humanity and sign of human identity; moreover it is also sign of its divine origin. The coordinates of the spirit are seen if observing the status of the visage. The visage is the external sign of the inner and intimate reality of the person: his divine essence. The essence expressed in the visage is the simultaneous expression of the absolute subordination and its absolute freedom, its origin and its essence. It is something that God donates but that also the man possesses; it is the union of the divine with the human; it is the incarnation of the Creator into His Creation, the archetype of the man whom the Creation promotes. The visage of the other is the genuine affirmation of the very own essence.

The human relations are the human resemblance of the divine essence. The divine essence, that all mankind owns, guarantees in the visage the encounter space with the other. The essence of God materialized in the visage of the man is according to the image of God, the visage that God has destined the man to live with. The man is not the absolute; he is only a reflection of it. Every man is depositary of the absolute original splendor of the image of God. This visage can be protected only in the contemplation of the divine visage made flesh. The reduction of Christ to the human state in order to realize the redemption, gives the opportunity of restoration and development of the visage towards the state of pure divine essence. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world means therefore to safeguard the essence of the visage given at the Creation and to promote its nobilitation.



    1. Transformation (essentialisation) of the visage – But be transformed by the renewing of your mind…


The essence expressed in the visage is not static: it is a value to conserve but also to develop. The dynamism of the visage needs to be increased, needs a constant renewal, it is not an ossification process. The transformation of the visage according to the image of Christ evidences the possibility of getting for himself the image of God that become effective by the work of Christ, that works in you to will and to act (Philippians 2: 13 NIV). He is the image of the Father; He is the Son of God and the Son of man. Who saw the Son has seen also the Father. Christ is the essence of the humanity and is also the essence of the divinity revealed to the humanity. Christ is the visage of the transcendence made manifest in the immanence of the human visage. Christ is the infinite person who becomes finite in order to discover the appearance of the visage of His Father. Christ is the mystery of the divinity that first has been disguised by the snake and then rendered evident to the cross. Christ takes on Him the image of the sin making Himself sin for us in order to grant redemption from the mortality of the sin. He destroys with the cross the visage of the sin in order to reconquer His true image before the whole Universe. Christ gives to all humanity the possibility to resume the visage had before the sin in order to return to the original essentialisation. Christ represents with His humanity the universal man who is image of God; Christ represents the humanity all at the same time and every individual; that is reflected in every visage with its characteristic beauty. Every visage does not exist in virtue of another but has its own teleology; however it is related to the universal man, to the image of God incarnated in Christ. Adam is the prototype of the fallen human race; Christ – of the winning one. We are we called to the victory in Christ. To Christ the vision does not lack and is able to recognize the virtues in the believers. Christ, the second Adam, sees in us the heroes who can obtain victory with the transformation of our image according to the divine likeness.



B. Relational nature of the visage


1.              Transcendence of the visage – Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is…


There are various kinds of relationship that come along when exposing himself to a relation with the world. The relationship with an object is different from one with another person. God does not let us to confine Him within our mind or categories. The man cannot see God, but he can perceive Him. The sense of mystery appears when the man is in front of God: this is a relationship with the transcendence. The limit of our perception make of God the great absent (if He should be truly absent we would not be able to perceive even this absence) because He is too much for us. Perhaps this absence drifts from an excessive presence: we perceive the absence because He is too present. There is another way of understanding this absence: if God did not manifest Himself through the absence, and if He were present to our perception He would be in our hands. God does not permit being perceived like an object.

What we have said about God has to do with the mystery, with the enigma. The phenomenon is the event that evidences by the sensible impressions. The phenomenon is another type of description of the reality. The visage has a sensible form; it is the essence of the sensibility. This sensibility of the visage allows the subsistence of the relation. The man is between the phenomenal reality (sensible) and the transcendental one (spiritual). The man can perceive the presence of the visage of another, like a phenomenon and manifestation of the transcendence. This visage is not measurable neither graspable since the essence of men is transcendental. The visage refuses to be content, possessed, explained. To represent something means to assimilate or include it for himself, therefore to deny the alterity. The visage is the vehicle for knowing God; it is through it that we perceive the fact of being perceived. Observing the visage of the other, which is in the image of God, we can know God for experience. The visage joins God and man. Carrying out a relation with the human visage, we have relation with God Himself. The visage is a metaphysical experience when the man finds himself beyond his own limits, as a result of meeting the other people’s visage. The human existence is not authentic if it is not seen in terms of auto transcendence. The transcendence is defined not singly from the presence of I but also from the presence of the other. The transcendence is discovered through the signs: the other is a sign of the transcendence. The alterity is material, but I meets the absolutely other, the place of encounter with the metaphysics. God operates concretely through the instruments of the historical reality, using the persons who live on the earth. He does not suspend the laws of nature in order to become part or coerce the human reality. God manifests His presence through the other’s visage. Meeting the visage of the other is a transcendental experience. To perceive the expression of the visage means to exceed our perception. The visage unravels the form and always exceeds beyond the idea that we make of.

The visage does not indicate simply the presence of the other, but it expresses the modality in accordance to which such presence is arranged. The visage represents in a certain way to be in attendance of other and as other. Other is introduced to me like infinity of veiled possible ways. The infinity manifests in the visage and the visage reveals the infinity. This relation with the infinity is not a theoretical recuperation, neither a presupposed hypothesis that renders the description possible. The human limitation explains the world beginning with that fact that is already clear. Therefore the humanization, used to explain the world, is not evil, after all. Consequently, in order to be acquainted with God it is necessary to begin to comprise our similar one. In the material visage we meet and recognize something that constitutes the door towards the transcendence. The visage is not a limited place without a sense, but the exceptionally place of the announcement of the transcendence.

God manifests Himself in the symmetry: on one side the Revelator, on the other side the human, which is able of being caught up by this revelation. Evenly, the visage manifests in the symmetry. The relation between the visages is the correlation between two transcendences, which forms the Kingdom, a spiritual reality of a dialectic love. Such symmetrical correlation is a relation of twofold movement of liberty that is donated. The truth of the Kingdom is possible only in the association with the other members of the body of Christ. The visage is evidenced just in the approach; not synthesis, symbiosis, but association. The Kingdom lives in the human hearts that take part of. Every visage that is correspondent of the divine one has its place in the Kingdom. The presence of the divine image in the man, the divine essence in the man, induces longing for the Kingdom. The Kingdom calls forth the essentiality that converts the man from the dispersiveness of the existential casualism to the trusting hope in the advent of the Kingdom, which is faithful witnessed in the people’s visage – passage towards the transcendence. Therefore, discovering the necessity of the visage in order to comprehend oneself, the other and also God, is essential for understanding the transcendental nature of the visage.



2.              The presence (manifestation) of the visage – His good, pleasing and perfect will.


The metaphysics is the relationship with God; ethics – the relationship with the related one, the respect of the other people’s visage. The idea of the Kingdom admits an ethical width, talking about the presence of the visage. Entering in relationship with God through the visage of the other, that’s ethics. Therefore ethics becomes the place of the metaphysics and the metaphysics comes true at the level of ethics. Ethics is correlated to the productive activity (not passive); therefore it is dynamic and involves the human being. In such a way the visage is an active presence that evidences itself in ethics. The man is not always present to himself in his completeness because he lives with and in others. In the elaboration of the person, I is totally in himself when, in the constitution of himself, knows to recognize the visage of the other, participating therefore intimately to the well-being and the life of another. This is not annihilation of the being but promptness without limits, that is an action of authentic moral. In the structure of the ethical relation, I does not get lost but, rather, discovers being faithfully to himself. This norm of existence does not dissolve the possibilities of the being. In this direction, the transcendence of the visage is not corroded and never gets exausted to introduce itself as an infinite entity. I is found inserted in the relation and it is destined to the participation. The immediate unity of the being in the world of the friends – phenomena (the visages of the others) bring along with itself the beatitude of rejoining with the harmonious world of the Kingdom. The man is complete as he is in relation with his similar ones. With the refusal of the hospitality, the man rinegate his own original election for the other (with whom collaboration he would give life to the image of God). Crushed the creational bond, he becomes alienated from the other, leaving apart the privilege of being for others. To be for the others is exact the opposite of the possession to which the visage escapes. The relation with the visage excludes the possession that would imply to dishonor the mystery of the visage. The ethics of the visage involves first of all the reciprocal interrogation and second, puts into effect a common plan; thus is made possible both the communication and the action, the two condition for the communion.

In conclusion, the essence of the human being is the image of God; the “visage” is the way of its manifestation. Visage means the place of junction between divine and the human: it is the modality of God to become alike a phenomenon. The visage that is dynamic, represents the transcendence of the man since the transfigured visage of Jesus belongs to the entire humanity inasmuch revelation of the divine in the flesh. The Kingdom is the common plan that realizes reliability one to the other and it is situated in the hearts of the persons. The visage is also the place of the ethic choice: place of manifestation of good or evil. Even if there is an ambiguity of the visage, the human visage is representing the divine image, in virtue of the filiation and the redemption. The Kingdom is close to those who consent being questioned by its expression that is the renewal through which every man, according to the visage of God, allows the own divine essence and eschatological destination be represented in himself.