Thursday, August 27, 2015

“Laudato ‘Si”

Class August 28 (Feast of  St. Augustine)



When we misuse the environment in any of its manifestations –physical, social, economic, family, it is because we have not identified it as an extension of the humanity of Christ that is “compenentrated” with the divinity creating it. We have lost the sense of creation.

Fifteen years after the economic collapse of Communism in 1989, Benedict XVI summed up the state of the world. He said: “The essential problem of our times, for Europe and for the world, is that although the fallacy of the communist economy has been recognized – so much so that former communists have unhesitatingly become economic liberals – the moral and religious question that it used to address has been almost totally repressed [i.e.,  God]. The unresolved issue of Marxism lives on.”[1]
What rankles many of our observant orthodox Catholics in the pew is the pope’s apparent hewing to the media line of the environment in general and global warming in particular when the vital issues of abortion, gay marriage, on-going contraception, the lucrative trade in body parts, etc. go unaddressed with the urgency that was exhibited in previous papacies.
My take is that the pope is after something more profound and urgent than today’s and tomorrow’s blood curdling moral atrocity, namely,  Atheism and our unconscious presence in a structure of sin.  We are horrified by moral atrocity, but we know it to be an atrocity. But what happens when you are a being with a transcendent destiny and an internal longing for the Absolute and you are offered a Norman Rockwell picture of the American family at Thanksgiving dinner and everything seems relatively OK. Walker Percy wrote: show me that Rockwell picture “and I’ll show you the first faint outline of the death’s-head.

“God may be good, family and marriage and children and home may be good, grandma and grandpa may act wise, the Thanksgiving table may be groaning with God’s goodness and bounty, all the folks healthy and happy, but something is missing. What is this sadness here? Why do the folks put up with it? The truth seeker does not. Instead of joining hands with the folks and bowing his head in prayer, the truth seeker sits in an empty chair as invisible as Banquo’s ghost, yelling at the top of his voice: Where is it? What is missing? Where did it go? I won’t have it! I won’t have it! What this sadness here? Don’t stand for it! Get up! Leave! Let the boat people sit down! Go live in a cave until you’ve found the thief who is robbing you. But at least protest. Stop, thief! What is missing? God?  Find him!”[2]

In the Rockwell picture, we may have religion, and grandma and the good self. What is this “urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution”[3] that Francis is talking about?  And how does it take the form of attending to global warming, and the sundries of inattention and damage to the physical and social environment, the culture of consumerism, an economy of profit, lonely individualism? What is he really talking about? I respond:  The humanity of Christ. That is, when he is talking about the environment, the economy, the social ecology, he is talking about Jesus Christ as Creator and Creation at the same time. He perceives the world as not simply “there” but “there” as relation from and to the Creator Who has also become part of His own creation and who shows us, in living out His humanity – which is created – how we are to see things with realism and live with them.

 We are atheists unawares. We have lost the sense of creation.  Francis sees that “humanity has taken up technology and its development according to an undifferentiated and one-dimensional paradigm. This paradigm exalts the concept of a subject who, using logical and rational procedures, progressively approaches and gains control over an external object. This subject makes every effort to establish the scientific and experimental method, which in itself is already a technique of possession, mastery, and transformation [my emphasis]. It is as if the subject were to find itself in the presence of something formless, completely open to manipulation…. We are the ones to lay our hands on things, attempting to extract everything possible from them while frequently ignoring or forgetting the reality in front of us. Human beings and material objects no longer extend a friendly hand to one another; the relationship has become confrontational. This has made it easy to accept the idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers, and experts in technology. It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods,…” (106).

Francis continues: It can be said that many problems of today’s world stem from the tendency, at times unconscious, to make the method and aims of science and technology an epistemological paradigm[4] which shapes the lives of individuals and the workings of society. The effects of imposing this model on reality as a whole, human and social, are seen in the deterioration of the environment, but this is just one sign of a reductionism which affects every aspect of human and social life. We have to accept that technological products are not neutral, for they create a framework which ends up conditioning lifestyles and shaping social possibilities along the lines dictated by the interests of certain powerful groups. Decisions which may seem purely instrumental are in reality decisions about the kind of society we want to build” (107).  “Epistemological paradigm

We see “things” as “formless. We are not dealing with a world that has been created by God Who is really Creator, i.e. of a God Who creates ex nihilo (out of nothing). Rather, we are treating the world as “thing” that God has created out of a pre-existent something. And therefore, God is the Supreme Being, First Cause, Necessary Being, Perfection Itself and Final Cause of all that is in the world. And, although He is first and most, He is still in the world as part of it since He does not give it being.

This is not the God of the Old Testament, nor the God of Jesus Christ. He is not the Creator ex nihilo, and therefore the God Who would be even if nothing else was. So different is the being of God and the being of the world, that if the world were not, God would not be less; and that the world is, God is not more. What we mean by “is” for God is “otherly  other” than what “is” means for anything created.[5] More clearly, Robert Sokolowski writes, “In our natural and original experience, the world is first presented and taken as the encompassing whole, as the ultimate context, enclosing both necessities and contingencies. Everything, both the divine and the non-divine, is subject to the rhythms and destiny of the whole. But through biblical revelation, through the events and teachings presented in both the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, the new understanding of God was gradually brought  forward, and we were taught that the divine is to be found neither in  the stars nor in the Canaanite idols, but in the God who could be all that he is in goodness and perfection even if the world did not exist. A new distinction between the divine and the non-divine was introduced, one that deepens and transforms the distinction between the gods and the profane that was known to paganism… God is hidden not just because of human psychological limitations, but because he is not one of the things in the world.”[6]

Francis’s Vision of the World in Laudato ‘Si: Jesus Christ as the center and meaning of all creation.

 “99. In the Christian understanding of the world, the destiny of all creation is bound up with the mystery of Christ, present from the beginning: “All things have been created though him and for him” (Col  1:16).[7] The prologue of the Gospel of John (1:1-18) reveals Christ’s creative work as the Divine Word (Logos). But then, unexpectedly, the prologue goes on to say that this same Word “became flesh” (Jn 1:14). One Person of the Trinity entered into the created cosmos, throwing in his lot with it, even to the cross. From the beginning of the world, but particularly through the incarnation, the mystery of Christ is at work in a hidden manner in the natural world as a whole, without thereby impinging on its autonomy.

“100. The New Testament does not only tell us of the earthly Jesus and his tangible and loving relationship with the world. It also shows him risen and glorious, present throughout creation by his universal Lordship: “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Col 1:19-20). This leads us to direct our gaze to the end of time, when the Son will deliver all things to the Father, so that “God may be everything to everyone” (1 Cor 15:28). Thus, the creatures of this world no longer appear to us under merely natural guise because the risen One is mysteriously holding them to himself and directing them towards fullness as their end. The very flowers of the field and the birds which his human eyes contemplated and admired are now imbued with his radiant presence.

            If Christ is the center and meaning of the totality of creation,[8] and He has entered His creation as part, and central part, then the relation of the creature to the Creator must take its meaning from the relation of Christ’s humanity to His divinity. Chalcedon gives us the metaphysical structure of the Person of Jesus Christ: one divine Person, two natures, divine (uncreated) and human (created). The meaning of creation must be taken from that relation: “one and the same Christ only begotten Son our Lord, acknowledged in two natures, without mingling, without change, indivisibly, undividedly, the distinction of the natures nowhere removed on account of the union but rather the peculiarity of each nature being kept, and uniting in one person and substance, not divided or separated into two persons, but one and the same son only begotten God Word, Lord Jesus Christ, just as from the beginning the prophets taught about Him and the Lord Jesus Himself taught us, and the creed of our fathers has handed down to us.”

Ratzinger on Constantinople III (680-681): “In the manuals, the theological development after Chalcedon has ordinarily come to be little considered. The impression thus frequently remains that dogmatic Christology finishes up with a certain parallelism between the two natures of Christ. This impression has also been the cause leading to the divisions since Chalcedon. But in effect the declaration of the true humanity and the true divinity of Christ can retain its significance only when there is clarification also of the mode of unity of the two natures, which the Council of Chalcedon has defined by the formula of the `one person’ of Christ, at that time not yet fully examined. In fact only that unity of divinity and humanity which in Christ is not parallelism, whereon stands alongside the other, but real compenetration[9]compenetration between God and man – means salvation for humankind. Only thus in fact does that true `being with God’ take place, without which liberation and free do not exist.”[10]

“The same query returned at the third Council of Constantinople (680-681) after two centuries of dramatic struggle, marked most often also by Byzantine politics. According to this Council, on the one hand: the unity between the divinity and the humanity in Christ does not in any sense imply an amputation or reduction of the humanity. If God joins himself to his creature –man/woman – he does not wound or diminish it: he brings it to its plenitude. But on the other hand (and this is no less important) there remains no trace of that dualism or parallelism of the two natures which in the course of history was frequently judge necessary to defend the human liberty of Jesus. Such studies forgot that the assumption of the human will into the divine will does not destroy freedom, but on the contrary generates true liberty. The Council of Constantinople has analysed concretely the problem of the two natures and one person in Christ in view of the problem of the will of Jesus. We are reminded firmly that there exists a specific will of the man Jesus that is not absorbed into the divine will. But this human will follows the divine will and thus becomes a single will with it, not, however, in a forced way but by way of freedom. The metaphysical duplicity of a human will and a divine will is not eliminated, but in the personal sphere, the area of freedom there is accomplished a fusion of the two, so that this becomes not one single natural will but one personal will. This free union – a mode of union created by love – is a union higher and more intimate than a purely natural union. It corresponds to the highest union which can exist, the union of the Trinity. The Council explains this union by a saying of the Lord given in the Gospel of John: ‘I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of the Father who sent me’ (Jn. 6, 38). Here the divine Logos is speaking, and speaking of the human will of Jesus in the mode by which he calls his will the will of the Logos. With this exegesis of John 6, 38, the Council proves the unity of the subject: in Jesus there are not two ‘I,’ but only one. The Logos speaks of the will and human thought of Jesus using the ‘I;’ this has become his ‘I,’ has been assumed into his ‘I,’ because the human will has become fully one with the will of the Logos, and with it has become pure assent to the will of the Father.

My Comment: It is most important to observe that the two “wills” are “wills” of the One Person Who wills as both God and man. The wills, as the natures, are ontologically distinct, the one being uncreated , the other, created. They are not separated as two persons, nor elided as one, the divine abolishing the human. Rather, they are both wills of the same divine Person, Who alone could do such a thing because, as Creator, divine and the human are not in competition. This is the supreme insight of Robert Sokolowski and Robert Barron projects it through all of his writings. If they were in competition, they could never be the same Person. But Chalcedon (451) declares this as the ontological architecture of Jesus Christ Who is, Himself, the revelation of not only Who God is, but who man is. Ratzinger wrote: “in my view, Chalcedon represents the boldest and most sublime simplification of the complex and many-layered data of tradition to a single central fact that is the basis of everything else: Son of God, possessed of the same nature as God and of the same nature as us. Chalcedon interpreted Jesus theologically. I regard this as the only interpretation that can do justice to the whole range of tradition and sustain the full impact of the phenomenon itself.”[11]
                Therefore, the humanity of Christ is not an instrument of His divinity as an instrument of His Persona, but it is His very Persona: “Feel Me and see; for a spirit does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have” (Lk. 24, 39-40). Therefore, realism and the truth about the world is intimately connected to the truth of Jesus Christ. And, as we know, “no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and him to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Mt. 11, 27); and “no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him” (Jn. 6, 44); and “This is everlasting life, that they may know thee, the only true God, and him whom thou hast sent, Jesus Christ” (Jn. 17, 3). And, since like is known by like, we can know who a person or thing is only by becoming that person or thing. And since Christ has revealed Himself to be constant prayer to the Father as the relation of Self-Gift, only if we pray can we be able to say, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16, 16).
              
   Francis writes “Laudato ‘Si” because the misuse of the environment reveals that we have culturally turned back on ourselves “and ended up prizing technical thought over reality, since ‘the technological mind sees nature as an insensate order, as a cold body of facts, as a mere given,’ as an object of utility, as raw material to be hammered into useful shape; it views the cosmos similarly as a mere ‘space’ into which objects can be thrown with complete indifference.’ The intrinsic dignity of the world is thus compromised. When human beings fail to find their true place in this world, they misunderstand themselves and end up acting against themselves” (115).
               
Knowing Creation àß Knowing Christ

Why Do We Have Such Trouble Keeping the Creation of the World in Focus? Because the Creator of the world is not part of the world, but would be even if the world were not. It is the same question that Christ asks the disciples: Who do men say that I am? Who do you say that I am?

The human faculty of a human person does not will; that is, wills do notwill. Persons will. So also, if that human will is the will of a divine Person, it is the divine Person willing with a human faculty, not the human faculty. And yet, at the same time, that human will is not abolished by the fact that it has been assumed by a divine Person. On the contrary, the human will as the entire human nature of the historical man Jesus (whose only Person is the Logos) now achieves the autonomy and freedom of the divine Person. The human will does not lose its freedom by saying Yes to the will of the Father. It achieves the supreme freedom of self-gift that is its ontological “construction” as image of God. Hence, there is no antagonism between the divine and the human because in the creating Prototype, it is the same divine Person working in the irreducibly distinct (created and uncreated) natures.

 Of major importance is that they are not in parallel. The divine and human wills are not in parallel. They “compenetrate”

The conclusion that must be drawn is the identity of all creation with the humanity of Christ. The entire material cosmos is an extension of that created humanity (body and soul). Hence, creation is not a “thing,” nor an “object.” It is a relation to the Creator. It is no thing in itself. It is not a “substance.” It is a pure receptivity in relation to the Ipsum Esse of the Creator.

Barron on the meaning of being creature, and therefore being world and environment:
“Our consideration of Thomas’s Christological method revealed that knowledge of God and the human are correlative: God’s ecstatic otherness is disclosed precisely in the measure that the human creature becomes self-forgetful. In Christ’s perfect obedience, the ever greater and always stranger love of God pours forth. Following Heidegger, Paul Tillich explicitly states that the human relationship to God is the lens through which the creaturely relationship in general can be understood. A human being can know, feel, and describe the dynamics that characterize all finite being in relation to the infinite. The full expression of the human in rapport with the divine is, for Tillich, Jesus of Nazareth, especially in the obedience and self-surrender of the cross. In that moment of utter transparency to the divine in love and obedience, the crucified Christ reveals what the creature ought to look like in the presence of the unconditioned reality of God. It ishter efore fr om the standpoint of Christ that Tillich reads the ontology of the creature, concluding that  the finite thing is most itself when it is least itself, in sheer transparency to the unconditioned ground of being.”

I move to Barron in 1996: “All of Christian life begins with Jesus because in him we see the meeting of two ecstasies, that of God and that of the human being.  For Thomas the most impressive and powerful aspect of the Incarnation is its surprise. God’s decision to join us human beings in our own flesh, in time and space, in all of the weakness and suffering of our finitude, is something in the presence of which astonishment is the only proper response. God must be a reality stranger, more powerful, more wonderful than we can imagine. Though God needs us not, through God is utterly self-sufficient. God nevertheless goes out of himself, in an unheard of ecstasy, and become one of us. There is, in all of this, says Thomas, en excessive, ever greater quality.
                “And the human being Jesus Christ, in perfect obedience and openness to this ecstatic
God, forgets himself, goes out beyond himself in love, gives himself in a sort of imitation of divine ecstasy. And in this radical self-emptying, Jesus does not lose himself; rather he becomes most fully himself, finding his deepest identity in union with God. This meeting of the ever greater, evermore surprising God and a self-transcending human being is the event of the Incarnation and the icon that presides over all of Thomas spirituality… God is not a being like other beings in the world…God is is not even the highest or supreme being, that God is rather being itself [Ipsum Esse], ungraspable, unknowable power. …
                 “It is from the same point of view that Thomas interprets the act of creation. Creation is not an act at the beginning of time, not a once-and-for-all emanation from God; the life and being of God. The world is totally dependent, from moment to moment, on the sheer generosity of the Creator. Aquinas calls this creation ex nihilo, creation from nothing. When we recall the Christological roots of Thomas’s theology, this teaching takes on great spiritual power. To be a creature means to be ‘nothing,’ that is to say, pure openness and obedience in the presence of the creator God. And, as the icon of Christ reveals, in this ‘nothingness,’ in this ecstatic abandon, the creature most fully discovers herself. Various denials of the doctrine of creation ex nihilo are unmasked by Aquinas as sinful attempts to avoid obedience. To deny the creator God is to live the illusion that one can find oneself apart from total surrender…
See Barron handout “Thomas Aquinas” on Creation as a Relationship (and  therefore not a “substance.”













 R. Connor




[1] J. Ratzinger, “Without Roots,” Basic Books (2006) 73-74.
[2] Walker Percy,  “The Second Coming” Ivy books [Ballantine] (1980) 248.
[3] “Laudato ‘Si” #114.
[4] Science and technology, as ways of knowing and doing, are not ways of giving self but of control and domination, which are ways of being in self. As a paradigm, it tends to render the subject blind to the real crea ted dimention of the world, and will tend to see the world as “thing-in-itself.” Ancient philosophy has seen this as the prius of the meaning of being under the rubric of “substance.” And this paradigm gives us a mistaken perception of material things. We do not see them as created receptivities of being, but as “things-in themselves.” We do not see them aright, and t his because of sin. By sin, we are turned back on ourselves, and therefore lack the experience of self-transcendence and consciousness that accrues to it. Hence, the mind tends to be reductive and objectifying reducing the intelligible content of what is sensed to mere empirical “facts.”
[5] “In Kathryn Tanner’s language, God is not simply other; he is ‘otherly other;.” Robert Barron, “Exploring Catholic Theology,” Baker Academic (2015) 21.
[6] R. Sokolowski, “Eucharistic Presence,” CUA (1994) 51-52.
[7] Barron: “There is not more extraordinary and far –reaching description of Jesus’s significance than the one found in the first chapter of the letter to the Colossians. There we read that Jesus is the ‘the image [eikon] of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation,’ the in whom ‘the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (Col. 1,, 15, 19). Lest we miss the power of these statements, their implications are clarly spelled out: ‘in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible… In this Jesus, all things have come to be; he is the prototype of all finite existence, even of those great powers that transcend the world and govern human affairs. … Individuals, societies, cultures, animals, plants, planets and the stars – all will be drawn into an eschatological harmony through him. Mind you, Jesus is not merely the symbol of an intelligibility, coherence, and reconciliation that can exist apart from him; rather, he is the active and indispensable means by which these realities come to be. This Jesus, in short, is the all-embracing, al-including, all-reconciling Lord of whatever is to be found in the dimensions of time and space.

                “A text that parallels the first chapter of Colossians in the intensity and range of its claims is, of course, the prologue to the Gospel of John. If in Colossians the particular figure Jesus of Nazareth is identified with the creative power of God, In the Johannine text the process is reversed: now the transcendent Logos of God is appreciated as the one who became concretely available in this Jesus: The Word became flesh.” But the assertion of Christ’s absolute ontological priority remains  the same:  this Jesus is the Word that was with God from the beginning and through whom all things that exist came  to be and continue in being.;” “The Priority  of Christ,” Brazos Press (2007)134-135.

[9] Barron borrows the word “coinherence” from Bruce Marshall and develops the teaching of Chalcedon and Constantinople III in “Exploring Catholic Theology, Baker Academic (2015) 31-43. 
[10] J. Ratzinger, “Journey Towards Easter,” Crossroad (1987) 88-89.
[11] J. Ratzinger, “Dogma and Preaching” Franciscan Herald Press (1985) 8.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Link to Humanum Conference Last Fall




Presentation by the Pope on Complementarity


http://humanum.it/

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Today: Locution: 8/23/1971


August 5, 1982 was the date that John Paul II approved Opus Dei as a Personal Prelature and ordered it published on August 23, 1982, the anniversary of the locution received by8/23/71 by St. Josemaria Escriva: “Adeamus cum fiduciaadthronumgloriaeutmisericordiamconsequamur.

Explanation of St. Josemaria afterwards: "Voy a deciros algo que Dios Nuestro Senor quiere que sepais. Los hijos de Dios en el Opus Dei: Adeamus cum fiducia – hemos de ir con much fe – ad thronum gloriae, al trono de la gloria, la Virgen Santisima, Madre de Dios y Madre Nuestra, a la que tantas veces invocamos como Sedes Sapientiae, ut misericordiam consequamur, para alcanzar misericordia (…).

"Que lo tengais muy en cuenta en estos momentos y tambien despues. Yo diria que es un querer de Dios: que metamos Nuestra vida interior personal dentro de esas palabras que os acabo de decir. A veces las escuchareis sin ruido ninguno, en la intimdad de vuestra alma, cuando menos lo espereis. 'Adeamus cum fiducia: id – repito –en confianza al Corazon Dulcisimo de Maria, quees Madre nuestra y Madre de Jesus. Y con Ella, queesMedianera de todaslas gracias, al Corazon Sacratisimo y Misericordioso de Jesucristo.”

Footnote 55 on p. 426 of V. de PVol III: “Archbishop Julian Herranz tells us something interesting. He heard about this supernatural incident from the founder himself, shortly after the return from Caglio. At this time the work on Cavabianca… had already begun, and the Father asked that they put there a stone bas-relief which would show our Lady seated on a throne and being crowned by the Blessed Trinity. At its base would be engraved the words of the locution. The Father suggested that while they awaited the juridical solution to the institutional problem of the Work, those words should be prayed as an aspiration, to obtain from our Lady the desired solution. That was a suggestion that his children acted on for years. ‘And so,’ concludes Archbishop Herranz, ‘very great were our joy and our gratitude to the Blessed Virgin when the Pope (who knew nothing about this) made public his decision to establish Opus Dei as a personal prelature on August 23, 1982 – the anniversaryof the special divine light received by the founder eleven years earlier.” 

Opus Dei was not publically proclaimed a Personal Prelature until November 28, 1982, the first Sunday of Advent.  The reason it was not proclaimed on August 23 to coincide with the above locution (as the pope wanted)was a mistaken leak of those constitutional documents to the media which jeopardized the privileged silence of office needed for the private and free consultation with the respective bishops throughout the world for their free acceptance of Opus in their dioceses as a Personal Prelature. John Paul II, being informed of this state of affairs, for the sake of prudence, decided to delay the public notification from the Vatican until November 28 when everyone and everything would be in place and duly notified and consulted with no surprises.
cf. Vazquez de Prada Vol. III 425-430. 

After  the locutions of 1970 and 1971, consider the following flurry of apostolic activity: Summer of 1972: Two months of Catechesis is thought up and begun – interspersed with the Escriva’s three “Last Madnesses.” The building of Cavabianca, the building of Torreciudad and Morir a Tiempo [to die on time].





Francis and Pius X (On Friday)


Pope Francis surprised the faithful in St. Peter’s Basilica when he attended the morning Mass at the Altar of St. Pius X in the church. It was the feast day of the saint.

The Mass was celebrated by Msgr. Lucio Bonora, an official of the Vatican’s Secretary of State, who was unaware the Pope planned on being there.

When he was informed Pope Francis was praying at the altar, he asked if he should go back to the sacristy, but was told to say Mass as usual.

“When [Pope Francis] saw me, he told me he came to pray because he had already said Mass earlier in the Casa Santa Marta, and he wanted to pay his respects to St. Pius X,” Msgr. Bonora told Vatican Radio.

“When he say I had come to celebrate Mass, he wanted to remain, to stay there with the faithful, attend Mass and pray,” he said.

Msgr. Bonora said Pope Francis greeted the faithful during the sign of peace.

“It was very moving for me, and for the faithful, to see the Pope as a humble member of the faithful, going to pray at the tomb of St. Pius X,” the priest said.

Msgr. Bonora said Pope Francis told him he has a strong devotion to Pius X, and prayed especially for catechists, since in Buenos Aires the feast serves as the Day of Catechists.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Import of August 23, 1971-1982 in the History of Opus Dei:

(I recopy this from 2005)


1) Historical text: “Only rarely did the Father [St. Josemaria Escriva] mention these supernatural events; he would not do it unless he considered it necessary for the good of the Work and of his children. So we know little about the extraordinary graces that he received. But we do know some of them: for instance, that of August 23, 1971. He was spending a few days in Caglio, a little village near the town of Como, in northern Italy. That morning, after celebrating Mass, he was reading the newspaper, and suddenly, with great clarity and irresistible force, there was imparted to his soul a divine locution: `Adeamus cum fiducia ad thronum gloriae, ut misericordiam consequamur’ (`Let us confidently approach the throne of glory, to obtain mercy’).
Then, the footnote: “This is Hebrews 4, 16, with one difference: `throne of glory,’ instead of `throne of grace.’ The founder explained that our Lady is the throne of glory, in virtue of her constant and unalloyed intimacy with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is good that by means of her intercession we betake ourselves to God, appealing humbly to his mercy… The founder was in the habit of doing that, and so this locution `confirmed him in his need to always go to her’… He directed Don Alvaro to communicate this locution, in writing, to those on the General Council; this was, Ernesto Julia testifies, the only occasion on which he proceeded in this way…
Archbishop [now Cardinal] Julian Herranz tells us something interesting. He heard about this supernatural incident from the founder himself, shortly after the return from Caglio. At this time the work on Cavabianca (the definitive seat of the Roman College of the Holy Cross) had already begun, and the Father asked that they put there a stone bas-relief which would show our Lady seated on a throne and being crowned oby the Blessed Trinity. AT its base would be engraved the words of the locution. The Father suggested that while they awaited the juridical solution to the institutional problem of the Work, those words should be prayed as an aspiration, to obtain from our Lady the desired solution. That was a suggestion that his children acted on for years. `And so,’ concludes Archbishop Herrance, `very great were our joy and our gratitude to the Blessed Virgin when the Pope (who knew nothing about this) made public his decision to establish Opus Dei as a personal prelature on August 23, 1982 – the anniversary of the special divine light received by the founder eleven years earlier.’”[1]

2) The communication of the locution by St. Josemaria himself.

“I am going to tell you something that God Our Lord wants you to know. The sons of God in Opus Dei adeamus cum fiducia - we must go with much faith – ad thronum gloriaeto the throne of glory, the Most Holy Virgin, the Mother of God and our Mother, whom we invoke so many times as Sedes Sapientiaeut misericordiam consequamurto get mercy
“Keep it in mind in these moments and also afterwards. I would say that it is a desire of God: that we place our personal interior life within these words that I have just said. At times you will hear them without the noise of words, in the intimacy of your soul, when you least expect it. Adeamus cum fiducia: go – I repeat – with trust to the most Sweet Heart of Mary, who is our Mother and Mother of Jesus. And with Her, who is Mediatrix of all grace, to the Most Sacred and Merciful Heart of Jesus Christ.”

3) Historical Account of the Erection of the Prelature:

On August 23 of 1982, the Holy Father, John Paul II, made the official announcement of his decision to erect Opus Dei as personal Prelature after having approved – on the 5th of August of 1982, feast of our Lady of the Snows – a Declaration of the Sacred Congregation for Bishop in which the fundamental characteristics of the new Prelature are explained. Finally, the Holy Father ordered the Prelature to be erected on the 28th of November of 1982, the first Sunday of Advent. He ordered the pontifical act be published on that Sunday’s vigil, that is, the afternoon of Saturday November 27th which coincided with a date beloved by St. Josemaria, the feast of the Virgin of the Miraculous Medal, which was also the anniversary of the death of his Father.
[1] Andres Vazquez de Prada, The Founder of Opus Dei Scepter (2004) 426-427.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Pope Francis: Work Is an Expression of Human Dignity


Reflects on the Sacredness of Work During Weekly General Audience

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Vatican City, August 19, 2015 (ZENIT.org)

Work is sacred and gives dignity to the people. Any person or entity that violates this reality, hurts humanity. Pope Francis suggested this during this morning's weekly General Audience in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall as he continued his catecheses on family life, specifically this week focusing on work.
 
The Pontiff's comments were said in the context of how critical work is in giving dignity to human beings and in supporting the family, without which, the morale of persons and often the lives of children suffer. The Holy Father stressed that a good work ethic and willingness to work is learned often within the family from the parents' example. He pointed out that in the Bible we see this in the Holy Family, how Jesus learned to be a carpenter from Joseph.

Work, the Pope stressed, expresses the dignity of the person. "Work is sacred," he reminded those gathered. Because of this, he stressed, it is important to reflect on the serious problem of unemployment facing so many and to offer prayers.

"To cause a loss of jobs," the Pope underscored, "means to create serious social damage." When work is detached from the alliance between God and man and woman and is separated from their spiritual qualities, there is a 'degradation of the soul' that contaminates everything, even the air, water, grass, and food. 
"Sometimes the 'modern organization' of work has a dangerous tendency to consider the family as a burden, a weight, a liability for labor productivity. But let us ask ourselves: What is productivity? And for whom? The so-called 'intelligent city' is, without a doubt, very organized and rich in services; But, for example, it is often hostile to children and the elderly."
Turning to his recent encyclicalLaudato Si', the Pontiff noted that "when we engage in work, we share in Creation by caring for the Earth and cultivating it." Yet, when work is reduced to profits and productivity, he warned, this hurts humanity, especially the most poor and families.

Also during his catechesis, the Pontiff recalled how Saint Paul warns Christians that "anyone unwilling to work, neither should that one eat'.' (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

"It is a good recipe for losing weight, 'Who does not work, does not eat!'" Francis said jokingly. 

The Apostle refers explicitly to 'false spiritualism' of those who "live off the backs of their brothers and sisters 'doing nothing (2 Thes 3:11)," the Pope said. Noting this attitude is unacceptable, the 78-year-old Pontiff reminded those gathered that work and the spiritual life are not at all at odds with each other, but are complementary.

'It is important to understand this!" he said, "Prayer and work can and should be together in harmony, as taught by St. Benedict. Lack of work is bad for the spirit, as a lack of prayer also damages the practical activity."


[Blogger: I would suggest that work and prayer are not to be seen merely in harmony, but that work, when done with the animus of self gift, is prayer. The reference to St. Benedict is not enough because the monks do not achieve the sanctity of their canonically religious vocation by working, but entering into their religious state and taking the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Work, understood in the secular sense, is only a small part of their religious vocation. ]

Music, Christ and Truth

Music and Truth




·         Description:
 On July 4, 2015, in Castel Gandolfo, Benedict XVI received an honorary doctorate from the Pontifical University of John Paul II of Krakow and from the Academy of Music of Krakow. Making an exception to his decision not to receive honorary awards, he accepted the proposal made on 1 January 2015 — from the rectors of the two institutions and from Cardinal Stanis?aw Dziwisz, Archbishop of Krakow and Chancellor of the University —as a tribute to John Paul II. This article provides extensive excerpts from the speech given by the Pope emeritus for the occasion.
·         
LLarger Work:
L'Osservatore Romano
·         Pages: 16
·         Publisher & Date:
Vatican, August 7 -14, 2015

I grew up in Salzburg, thus I was marked by the great tradition of this city. It goes without saying that Sunday Masses, accompanied by choir and orchestra, were an integral part of our experience of faith in the celebration of the Liturgy. I still retain an indelible impression of how, for example, as soon as the opening notes of Mozart’s Messa dell’ incoronazione sounded, the sky seemed to open and one would feel the Lord’s presence most profoundly. Alongside this experience, however, the new reality of the Liturgical Movement had started, introduced in particular by one of our chaplains who was later to become vice-regent and then rector of the Major Seminary in Freising.
Then during my studies in Munich, I became increasingly involved in the Liturgical Movement in a very practical way, through the lessons of Professor Pascher, one of the most important liturgical experts at the Council, and especially through the liturgical life of the seminary community. Thus, little by little, the tension became perceptible between the participatio actuosa consistent with the liturgy and the solemn music which enhanced the sacred action, although I was not yet acutely aware of it.
In the Constitution on the Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council, it is very clearly written: “The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and cultivated with great care” (n. 114). Indeed, this text highlights that the participatio actuosa of all the faithful in the sacred action is a fundamental part of the liturgy. The relationship which was still harmonious in the Constitution later, in applying the Council’s recommendations, often developed into a dramatically tense relationship. Important circles in the Liturgical Movement held that in the future for great choral works and even for sacred orchestral works, there would be room only in concert halls, not in the liturgy, where there would only be room for the hymns and common prayer of the faithful. On the other hand there was dismay over the cultural impoverishment of the Church, which would necessarily arise from this. How could the two things be reconciled? How could the Council’s provisions be implemented fully? These questions were being asked me and many other faithful, by simple people as well as by those with theological training.
At this point perhaps it is fair to ask the basic question: What, in fact, is music? Where does it come from and to what does it aspire? I think that one can identify three “places” from which music flows.
One of its primary wellsprings is the experience of love. When people are seized by love, another dimension of being opens to them, a new magnitude and scope of reality. It also impels them to express themselves in a new way. Poetry, song and music in general arise from being struck in this way, from this opening to a new dimension of life. A second origin of music is the experience of sadness, being touched by death, by sorrow and by the abyss of existence. In this case too, new dimensions open up in the opposite direction, new dimensions of reality which can no longer find answers in words alone.
Finally, music’s third place of origin is the encounter with the divine, which from the very beginning is a part of what defines humanity. More important still, is that it is here that are present the wholly other and the wholly great which inspire in mankind new forms of expression. Perhaps one could state that in fact even in the other two spheres — love and death — the divine mystery touches us and, in this sense, it is that being touched by God which is the overall origin of music. I find it moving to observe how, for example in the Psalms, singing is no longer enough for man, and all instruments are needed: the music hidden in creation, its mysterious language, is reawakened. With the Psalter, in which the two motives of love and death work, we find ourselves directly at the origin of the music of the Church of God. One might say that the quality of music depends on the purity and greatness of the encounter with the divine, with the experience of love and of pain. The purer and truer the experience, the purer and greater will be the music which is born and develops from it. At this point I would like to express a thought which in recent times has come to my mind more and more, as various cultures and religions have began relating to each other. In the most diverse cultures and religions there is great literature, great architecture, great painting and great sculpture. And music too is present everywhere. In no other cultural environment, however, does the greatness of music equal that born in the sphere of the Christian faith: from Palestrina to Bach, from Händel up to Mozart, Beethoven and Bruckner. The music of the West is something unique, which has no equal in other cultures. This should make us think.
Of course Western music goes far beyond the religious and ecclesial realm. Nevertheless, its deepest source can be found in the liturgy in the encounter with God. In the works of Bach, for whom the glory of God ultimately represented the aim of all music, this is quite evident. The great and pure response of Western music was developed in the encounter with a God who, in the liturgy, is rendered present to us in Jesus Christ. I feel that this music is a demonstration of the truth of Christianity. Wherever such a response develops, there has been an encounter with Truth, with the true Creator of the world. For this reason great sacred music is a reality of theological rank and of permanent significance for the faith of the whole of Christianity; even if it is by no means necessary that it be performed always and everywhere. On the other hand, however, it is also clear that it cannot disappear from the liturgy and that its presence can be a completely special means of participating in the sacred celebration, in the mystery of faith.
If we think about the liturgy celebrated by St John Paul II on every continent, we see the entire range of the possible expressions of faith in the liturgical celebration. We also see that the great music of the Western tradition is not extraneous to the liturgy, but is born and grows from it and in this way it continually contributes to giving new form to it. We do not know the future of our culture and of sacred music, but one thing is clear: where an encounter really occurs with the living God who comes to us in Christ, there too arises and grows the response, whose beauty springs from truth itself.

This item 10967 digitally provided courtesy of CatholicCulture.org

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Evangelization of the Entire World by the Laity - A Mission Beyond the Prophets of Old: Parrhesia [Daring and Enthusiasm (en Theou)]

From a homily on Matthew by St. John Chrysostom, bishop
Salt of the earth and light of the world
You are the salt of the earth. It is not for your own sake, he says, but for the world’s sake that the word is entrusted to you. I am not sending you only into two cities only or ten to twenty, not to a single nation, as I sent the prophets of old, but across land and sea, to the whole world. And that world is in a miserable state. For when he says: You are the salt of the earth, he is indicating that all mankind had lost its savour and had been corrupted by sin. Therefore, he requires of these men those virtues which are especially useful and even necessary if they are to bear the burdens of many. For the man who is kindly, modest, merciful and just will not keep his good works to himself but will see to it that these admirable fountains send out their streams for the good of others. Again, the man who is clean of heart, a peacemaker and ardent for truth will order his life so as to contribute to the common good.

  Do not think, he says, that you are destined for easy struggles or unimportant tasks.You are the salt of the earth. What do these words imply? Did the disciples restore what had already turned rotten? Not at all. Salt cannot help what is already corrupted. That is not what they did. But what had first been renewed and freed from corruption and then turned over to them, they salted and preserved in the newness the Lord had bestowed. It took the power of Christ to free men from the corruption caused by sin; it was the task of the apostles through strenuous labour to keep that corruption from returning.

  Have you noticed how, bit by bit, Christ shows them to be superior to the prophets? He says they are to be teachers not simply for Palestine but for the whole world. Do not be surprised, then, he says, that I address you apart from the others and involve you in such a dangerous enterprise. Consider the numerous and extensive cities, peoples and nations I will be sending you to govern. For this reason I would have you make others prudent, as well as being prudent yourselves. For unless you can do that, you will not be able to sustain even yourselves.

  If others lose their savour, then your ministry will help them regain it. But if you yourselves suffer that loss, you will drag others down with you. Therefore, the greater the undertakings put into your hands, the more zealous you must be. For this reason he says: But if the salt becomes tasteless, how can its flavour be restored? It is good for nothing now, but to be thrown out and trampled by men’s feet.

  When they hear the words: When they curse you and persecute you and accuse you of every evil, They may be afraid to come forward. Therefore he says: “Unless you are prepared for that sort of thing, it is in vain that I have chosen you. Curses shall necessarily be your lot but they shall not harm you and will simply be a testimony to your constancy. If through fear, however, you fail to show the forcefulness your mission demands, your lot will be much worse, for all will speak evil of you and despise you. That is what being trampled by men’s feet means.”

  Then he passes on to a more exalted comparison: You are the light of the world.Once again, “of the world”: not of one nation or twenty cities, but of the whole world. The light he means is an intelligible light, far superior to the rays of the sun we see, just as the salt is a spiritual salt. First salt, then light, so that you may learn how profitable sharp words may be and how useful serious doctrine. Such teaching holds in check and prevents dissipation; it leads to virtue and sharpens the mind’s eye.

[Notice that it is not doctrine that is preached, but the Kerygma: Christ lives! The reason for doctrine: to prevent dissipation, build virtue and sharpen the mind]

A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do men light a lamp and put it under a basket. Here again he is urging them to a careful manner of life and teaching them to be watchful, for they live under the eyes of all and have the whole world for the arena of their struggles.

Amazon and Laudato Si’

  

The Technocratic Paradigm:

What’s the problem?

Blogger: It turns everything into an object of control, presupposing and exhalting the centrality of the Unencumbered Self: Ye shall be as gods

105. There is a tendency to believe that every increase in power means “an increase of ‘progress’ itself”, an advance in “security, usefulness, welfare and vigour; …an assimilation of new values into the stream of culture”,[83] as if reality, goodness and truth automatically flow from technological and economic power as such. The fact is that “contemporary man has not been trained to use power well”,[84] because our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience. Each age tends to have only a meagre awareness of its own limitations. It is possible that we do not grasp the gravity of the challenges now before us. “The risk is growing day by day that man will not use his power as he should”; in effect, “power is never considered in terms of the responsibility of choice which is inherent in freedom” since its “only norms are taken from alleged necessity, from either utility or security”.[85] But human beings are not completely autonomous. Our freedom fades when it is handed over to the blind forces of the unconscious, of immediate needs, of self-interest, and of violence. In this sense, we stand naked and exposed in the face of our ever-increasing power, lacking the wherewithal to control it. We have certain superficial mechanisms, but we cannot claim to have a sound ethics, a culture and spirituality genuinely capable of setting limits and teaching clear-minded self-restraint.

II. THE GLOBALIZATION OF THE TECHNOCRATIC PARADIGM

106. The basic problem goes even deeper: it is the way that humanity has taken up technology and its development according to an undifferentiated and one-dimensional paradigm. This paradigm exalts the concept of a subject who, using logical and rational procedures, progressively approaches and gains control over an external object. This subject makes every effort to establish the scientific and experimental method, which in itself is already a technique of possession, mastery and transformation. It is as if the subject were to find itself in the presence of something formless, completely open to manipulation. Men and women have constantly intervened in nature, but for a long time this meant being in tune with and respecting the possibilities offered by the things themselves. It was a matter of receiving what nature itself allowed, as if from its own hand. Now, by contrast, we are the ones to lay our hands on things, attempting to extract everything possible from them while frequently ignoring or forgetting the reality in front of us. Human beings and material objects no longer extend a friendly hand to one another; the relationship has become confrontational. This has made it easy to accept the idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology. It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit. It is the false notion that “an infinite quantity of energy and resources are available, that it is possible to renew them quickly, and that the negative effects of the exploitation of the natural order can be easily absorbed”.[86]
107. It can be said that many problems of today’s world stem from the tendency, at times unconscious, to make the method and aims of science and technology an epistemological paradigm which shapes the lives of individuals and the workings of society. The effects of imposing this model on reality as a whole, human and social, are seen in the deterioration of the environment, but this is just one sign of a reductionism which affects every aspect of human and social life. We have to accept that technological products are not neutral, for they create a framework which ends up conditioning lifestyles and shaping social possibilities along the lines dictated by the interests of certain powerful groups. Decisions which may seem purely instrumental are in reality decisions about the kind of society we want to build.
108. The idea of promoting a different cultural paradigm and employing technology as a mere instrument is nowadays inconceivable. The technological paradigm has become so dominant that it would be difficult to do without its resources and even more difficult to utilize them without being dominated by their internal logic. It has become countercultural to choose a lifestyle whose goals are even partly independent of technology, of its costs and its power to globalize and make us all the same. Technology tends to absorb everything into its ironclad logic, and those who are surrounded with technology “know full well that it moves forward in the final analysis neither for profit nor for the well-being of the human race”, that “in the most radical sense of the term power is its motive – a lordship over all”.[87] As a result, “man seizes hold of the naked elements of both nature and human nature”.[88] Our capacity to make decisions, a more genuine freedom and the space for each one’s alternative creativity are diminished.
(…)
110. The specialization which belongs to technology makes it difficult to see the larger picture. The fragmentation of knowledge proves helpful for concrete applications, and yet it often leads to a loss of appreciation for the whole, for the relationships between things, and for the broader horizon, which then becomes irrelevant. This very fact makes it hard to find adequate ways of solving the more complex problems of today’s world, particularly those regarding the environment and the poor; these problems cannot be dealt with from a single perspective or from a single set of interests. A science which would offer solutions to the great issues would necessarily have to take into account the data generated by other fields of knowledge, including philosophy and social ethics; but this is a difficult habit to acquire today. Nor are there genuine ethical horizons to which one can appeal. Life gradually becomes a surrender to situations conditioned by technology, itself viewed as the principal key to the meaning of existence. In the concrete situation confronting us, there are a number of symptoms which point to what is wrong, such as environmental degradation, anxiety, a loss of the purpose of life and of community living. Once more we see that “realities are more important than ideas”.[91]

The NYT publishes a negative article on Amazon  on precisely this point:

“Amazon’s Bruising, Thrilling Workplace” (NYT, Sunday August 16, 2015 –[front  page].

Bottom Line:  “Amazon is driven by data,” said Ms. Pearce, who now runs her own Seattle software company, which is well stocked with ex-Amazonians. “It will only change if the data says it must — when the entire way of hiring and working and firing stops making economic sense.”
(…)
”…. Many women at Amazon attribute its gender gap — unlike Facebook, Google or Walmart, it does not currently have a single woman on its top leadership team — to its competition-and-elimination system. Several former high-level female executives, and other women participating in a recent internal Amazon online discussion that was shared with The New York Times, said they believed that some of the leadership principles worked to their disadvantage. They said they could lose out in promotions because of intangible criteria like “earn trust” (principle No. 10) or the emphasis on disagreeing with colleagues. Being too forceful, they said, can be particularly hazardous for women in the workplace.
Motherhood can also be a liability. Michelle Williamson, a 41-year-old parent of three who helped build Amazon’s restaurant supply business, said her boss, Shahrul Ladue, had told her that raising children would most likely prevent her from success at a higher level because of the long hours required. Mr. Ladue, who confirmed her account, said that Ms. Williamson had been directly competing with younger colleagues with fewer commitments, so he suggested she find a less demanding job at Amazon. (Both he and Ms. Williamson left the company.)
He added that he usually worked 85 or more hours a week and rarely took a vacation.
WHEN ‘ALL’ ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH
Molly Jay, an early member of the Kindle team, said she received high ratings for years. But when she began traveling to care for her father, who was suffering from cancer, and cut back working on nights and weekends, her status changed. She was blocked from transferring to a less pressure-filled job, she said, and her boss told her she was “a problem.” As her father was dying, she took unpaid leave to care for him and never returned to Amazon.
“When you’re not able to give your absolute all, 80 hours a week, they see it as a major weakness,” she said.
A woman who had thyroid cancer was given a low performance rating after she returned from treatment. She says her manager explained that while she was out, her peers were accomplishing a great deal. Another employee who miscarried twins left for a business trip the day after she had surgery. “I’m sorry, the work is still going to need to get done,” she said her boss told her. “From where you are in life, trying to start a family, I don’t know if this is the right place for you.”
A woman who had breast cancer was told that she was put on a “performance improvement plan” — Amazon code for “you’re in danger of being fired” — because “difficulties” in her “personal life” had interfered with fulfilling her work goals. Their accounts echoed others from workers who had suffered health crises and felt they had also been judged harshly instead of being given time to recover.
A former human resources executive said she was required to put a woman who had recently returned after undergoing serious surgery, and another who had just had a stillborn child, on performance improvement plans, accounts that were corroborated by a co-worker still at Amazon. “What kind of company do we want to be?” the executive recalled asking her bosses.
The mother of the stillborn child soon left Amazon. “I had just experienced the most devastating event in my life,” the woman recalled via email, only to be told her performance would be monitored “to make sure my focus stayed on my job.”
 “The joke in the office was that when it came to work/life balance, work came first, life came second, and trying to find the balance came last.”
Mr. Berman, the spokesman, said such responses to employees’ crises were “not our policy or practice.” He added, “If we were to become aware of anything like that, we would take swift action to correct it.” Amazon also made Ms. Harker, the top recruiter, available to describe the leadership team’s strong support over the last two years as her husband battled a rare cancer. “It took my breath away,” she said.
Several employment lawyers in the Seattle area said they got regular calls from Amazon workers complaining of unfair treatment, including those who said they had been pushed out for “not being sufficiently devoted to the company,” said Michael Subit. But that is not a basis for a suit by itself, he said. “Unfairness is not illegal,” echoed Sara Amies, another lawyer. Without clear evidence of discrimination, it is difficult to win a suit based on a negative evaluation, she said.
For all of the employees who are edged out, many others flee, exhausted or unwilling to further endure the hardships for the cause of delivering swim goggles and rolls of Scotch tape to customers just a little quicker.
Jason Merkoski, 42, an engineer, worked on the team developing the first Kindle e-reader and served as a technology evangelist for Amazon, traveling the world to learn how people used the technology so it could be improved. He left Amazon in 2010 and then returned briefly in 2014.
“The sheer number of innovations means things go wrong, you need to rectify, and then explain, and heaven help if you got an email from Jeff,” he said. “It’s as if you’ve got the C.E.O. of the company in bed with you at 3 a.m. breathing down your neck.”

A STREAM OF DEPARTURES
Amazon retains new workers in part by requiring them to repay a part of their signing bonus if they leave within a year, and a portion of their hefty relocation fees if they leave within two years. Several fathers said they left or were considering quitting because of pressure from bosses or peers to spend less time with their families. (Many tech companies are racing to top one another’s family leave policies — Netflix just began offering up to a year of paid parental leave. Amazon, though, offers no paid paternity leave.)
In interviews, 40-year-old men were convinced Amazon would replace them with 30-year-olds who could put in more hours, and 30-year-olds were sure that the company preferred to hire 20-somethings who would outwork them. After Max Shipley, a father of two young children, left this spring, he wondered if Amazon would “bring in college kids who have fewer commitments, who are single, who have more time to focus on work.” Mr. Shipley is 25.
Amazon insists its reputation for high attrition is misleading. A 2013 survey by PayScale, a salary analysis firm, put the median employee tenure at one year, among the briefest in the Fortune 500. Amazon officials insisted tenure was low because hiring was so robust, adding that only 15 percent of employees had been at the company more than five years. Turnover is consistent with others in the technology industry, they said, but declined to disclose any data.
Employees, human resources executives and recruiters describe a steady exodus. “The pattern of burn and churn at Amazon, resulting in a disproportionate number of candidates from Amazon showing at our doorstep, is clear and consistent,” Nimrod Hoofien, a director of engineering at Facebook and an Amazon veteran, said in a recent Facebook post.
Those departures are not a failure of the system, many current and former employees say, but rather the logical conclusion: mass intake of new workers, who help the Amazon machine spin and then wear out, leaving the most committed Amazonians to survive.
“Purposeful Darwinism,” Robin Andrulevich, a former top Amazon human resources executive who helped draft the Leadership Principles, posted in reply to Mr. Hoofien’s comment. “They never could have done what they’ve accomplished without that,” she said in an interview, referring to Amazon’s cycle of constantly hiring employees, driving them and cutting them.
“Amazon is O.K. with moving through a lot of people to identify and retain superstars,” said Vijay Ravindran, who worked at the retailer for seven years, the last two as the manager overseeing the checkout technology. “They keep the stars by offering a combination of incredible opportunities and incredible compensation. It’s like panning for gold.”
The employees who stream from the Amazon exits are highly desirable because of their work ethic, local recruiters say. In recent years, companies like Facebook and LinkedIn have opened large Seattle offices, and they benefit from the Amazon outflow.
Recruiters, though, also say that other businesses are sometimes cautious about bringing in Amazon workers, because they have been trained to be so combative. The derisive local nickname for Amazon employees is “Amholes” — pugnacious and work-obsessed.
Call them what you will, their ranks are rapidly increasing. Amazon is finishing a 37-floor office tower near its South Lake Union campus and building another tower next to it. It plans a third next to that and has space for two more high-rises. By the time the dust settles in three years, Amazon will have enough space for 50,000 employees or so, more than triple what it had as recently as 2013.

Those new workers will strive to make Amazon the first trillion-dollar retailer, in the hope that just about everyone will be watching Amazon movies and playing Amazon games on Amazon tablets while they tell their Amazon Echo communications device that they need an Amazon-approved plumber and new lawn chairs, and throw in some Amazon potato chips as well.
Maybe it will happen. Liz Pearce spent two years at Amazon, managing projects like its wedding registry. “The pressure to deliver far surpasses any other metric,” she said. “I would see people practically combust.”
But just as Jeff Bezos was able to see the future of e-commerce before anyone else, she added, he was able to envision a new kind of workplace: fluid but tough, with employees staying only a short time and employers demanding the maximum.
“Amazon is driven by data,” said Ms. Pearce, who now runs her own Seattle software company, which is well stocked with ex-Amazonians. “It will only change if the data says it must — when the entire way of hiring and working and firing stops making economic sense.”
The retailer is already showing some strain from its rapid growth. Even for entry-level jobs, it is hiring on the East Coast, and many employees are required to hand over all their contacts to company recruiters at “LinkedIn” parties. In Seattle alone, more than 4,500 jobs are open, including one for an analyst specializing in “high-volume hiring.”
Some companies, faced with such an overwhelming need for new bodies, might scale back their ambitions or soften their message.

Not Amazon. In a recent recruiting video, one young woman warns: “You either fit here or you don’t. You love it or you don’t. There is no middle ground.”