Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Ontological and Epistemic Priority of Christ (in view of Robert Barrons’s “The Priority of Christ”[1]


“(R)ather than experts in dire predictions, dour judges bent on rooting out every threat and deviation, we should appear as joyful messengers of challenging proposals, guardians of the goodness and beauty which shine forth in a life of fidelity to the Gospel.”[2]


The Epistemic Priority of Christ: The mind-boggling reality that God, the Creator of all things, has become man. This is the truth that St. Anselm was after, and Robert Sokolowski clarifies. Anselm had said that God was “that than which nothing greater can be thought.”  Sokolowski  writes: “Anselm’s argument works explicitly with the contrast between being in the mind and being in reality. This contrast, the two ways of being that it distinguishes, are themselves deserving of further thought. But besides this explicit premise for his argument, there is another, an implicit premise, which the argument requires but which is not expressed openly by Anselm in chapter two [of the Proslogian]. This implicit premise also contains a contrast. It might be formulated as the statement that:
                (God plus the world) is not greater than God alone;”[3]

                The point Sokolowski makes is that the being of God is so different from the world, that His Being (reality) would not be more because the world exists, nor would It be less if it did not. That is to say, the Being of God as Creator of all things is so different from the being of all things that they are incommensurable. That is not to say that they are not analogous insofar as they are; but rather to say that the way that they are is epistemically different.

                What does that mean? That the Being of God is not part of the world that we know by the experience of sensation, abstraction and rational thought.  His humanity is, indeed, “part” of our world, but His divine Person is not “part” but Creator of all of it.  Nevertheless, His humanity was assumed by His divine Person, and therefore, is it. Being Creator of the world, and yet “in” it, He must be known – as incarnate God in Jesus Christ - through the experience of ourselves as created images of Himself and baptized into Him. We do this by transcending ourselves in the act of faith as He is totally out of Himself as Son of the Father.

Romano Guardini says it thus: “The person of Jesus is unprecedented and therefore measureable by no already existing norm. Christian recognition consists of realizing that all things really began with Jesus Christ; that he is his own norm – and therefore ours – for he is Truth.
                “Christ’s effect upon the world can be compared with nothing in its history save its own creation: ‘In the beginning God created heaven and earth.’ What takes place in Christ is of the same order as the original act of creation, though on a still higher level. For the beginning of the new creation is as far superior to the love which created the stars, plants, animals and men. That is what the words mean: ‘I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled’? (Lk. 12, 49). It is the fire of new becoming; not only ‘truth’ or ‘love,’ but the incandescence of new creation…. Down, down through terrible destruction he descends, to the nadir of divine creation whence saved existence can climb back into being…
                Guardini then points out that this will demand a new way of knowing: “Now we understand what St. Paul meant with his ‘excelling knowledge of Jesus Christ:’ the realization that this is who Christ is, the Descender. To make this realization our own is the alpha and omega of our lives, for it is not enough to know Jesus only as the Savior. With this supreme knowledge serious religious life can begin, and we should strive for it with our whole strength and earnestness, as a man  strives to reach his place in his profession; as a scientist wrestles with the answer to his problem; as one labors at this life work or for the hand of someone loved above all else.”[4]
                And then, in implicit reference to the spirit of Opus Dei: “Are these directives for saints?  No, for Christians. For you. How long must I wait? God knows. He can give himself to you overnight, you can also wait twenty years, but what are they in view of his advent? One day he will come. Once in the stillness of profound composure you will know: that is Christ! Not from a book or the word of someone else, but through him. He who is creative love brings your intrinsic potentialities to life. Your ego at its profoundest is he.”

                This is totally the charism St. Josemaria Escriva received experientially on October 2, 1928. And you will know Christ in the most profound intimacy with the most radical realism because you will become Him, such that you will hear from the Father: “You are my Son; you are Christ.” Escriva wrote: “When God sent me those blows back in 1931, I didn’t understand them… The all at once, in the midst of such great bitterness, came the words: ‘You are my son (Ps. 2, 7), you are Christ.’ And I could only stammer: ‘Abba, Pater! Abba, Pater! Abba! Abba! Abba!’ Now I see it with new light, like a new discovery, just as one sees, after years have passed, the hand of God, of divine Wisdom, of the All-Powerful. You’ve led me, Lord, to understand that to find the Cross is to find happiness, joy. And I see the reason with greater clarity than ever: to find the Cross is to identify oneself with Christ, to be Christ, and therefore to be a son of God.”[5]

                With this in view, Pope Francis encourages “the fundamental role of the first announcement or kerygma, which is the first proclamation that must ring out over and over: “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to to enlighten, strengthen and free you.” Since it is addressing the unique ontological reality of the God-Man, it is “the principal proclamation, the one which we must hear again and again in different ways, the one which we must announce one way or another throughout the process of catechesis, at every level and moment.”[6]  And as a result, “rather than experts in dire predictions, dour judges bent on rooting out every threat and deviation, “we should appear as joyful messengers of challenging proposals, guardians of the goodness and beauty which shine forth in a life of fidelity to the Gospel.”[7]

                Msgr Robert Barron has written “The Priority of Christ – Toward a Postliberal Catholicism.”[8] The third part of the book is entitled “The Epistemic Priority of Jesus Christ,” and his first chapter under that rubric is “The Scriptural Warrant.” There he writes that “It is my conviction that we don’t read Jesus through the lens of a predetermined epistemology, but rather that we understand the nature of knowledge in general through the (narrative icons concerning Jesus Christ).”[9]
                “But is this coherent? Do Christians know in a distinctive way? Are both the object of their intellectual investigation and their manner of rational procedure unique?”

                I skip to the point:  Two texts: a) Accepting St. Paul’s face to face experience of Christ led to his Colossians 1, 15:  “(Jesus is) the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible… All things have been created through and unto him, and he is before all creatures, and in him all things hold together.” Barron writes: “Jesus is not only the one in whom things were created but also the one in whom they presently exist and through whom they inhere in one another. And if we are inclined to view the future as a dimension of creation untouched by Christ, we are set straight: ‘Through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross’(v. 20). 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, all-including, all reconciling Lord of whatever is to be found in the dimensions of time and space.

                b) The Prologue to the Gospel of St. John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God… He was in the world, and the world was made through him… And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us… No one has at any time seen God. The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed him.” (1-18).

Barron writes [the same as Guardini]: “Now what follows from these breathtaking descriptions is a centrally important epistemic claim: that Jesus cannot be measured by a criterion outside of himself or viewed from a perspective higher than himself.”[10] That is, you cannot apply a metaphysic of “being” taken “from below” – i.e. from the experience of the created world [except the created human person going out of himself]. And this because there cannot be any created things without the Creator. The Being of God and the being of things have two totally different meanings save that they are (or can be). Barron writes: “He cannot be understood as one object among many or surveyed blandly by a disinterested observer. If such perspectives were possible, then he would not be the all-grounding Word or the criterion than which no more final can be thought. If we sought to know him in this way, we would not only come to incorrect conclusions but also involve ourselves in a sort of operational contradiction. To be consistent with these accounts, we must say that Jesus determines not only what there is to be known (since he is the organizing principle of finite being) but also how we are to know what is to known (since the mind itself is a creature, made and determined through him).
                “A Christ-illumined mind in search of Christ-determined forms seems to be the epistemology implicit in Colossians and the Johannine prologue. Further, as Bruce Marshall has argued, this primacy implies that the narratives concerning Jesus must, for Christians, be an epistemic trump, that is to say, an articulation of reality that must hold sway over and against all rival articulations, be they scientific, psychological, sociological, philosophical, or religious. To hold to Colossians and the prologue to John is to have a clear negative criterion concerning all claims to ultimate truth: whatever runs contrary to the basic claims entailed in the narratives concerning Jesus must certainly be false.”[11]

                Keep the Chalcedon-Constantinople III Christology in mind. There is only one ontological Person in Christ, and He is God the Son, endowed with two natures. All free actions performed by Christ, be they divine or human, are performed by His Person. Both natures are ontologically distinct as uncreated and created, but there is only one active principle: the Person. Therefore, every human act of Christ is divine in time and space. This is what Barron means by “Jesus cannot be measured by a criterion outside of himself or viewed from a perspective higher than himself.”
                Therefore, He is the meaning of “Being.” And if his every human action derives from his divine Person, it will have the characteristic of relation since He is nothing but Relation to the Father.  Therefore, we have to view all the human from sex to doughnuts through the prism of Christ, divine and human. This is a revolution.

The unfathomable forgiveness revealed: How can we begin to understand the magnitude of divine mercy unless we commit an unfathomable sin and be forgiven?
                The unfathomable sin: Deicide. Did Christ suffer as man, or as God-man? Ratzinger: “The suffering Christ… was an unshakeable fact; but there is no such thing as a Passion without the passions: suffering presupposes the ability to suffer, the sensibility and its feeling faculty. In the patristic period it was Origen who most profoundly grasped the theme of the suffering God, and who also most straightforwardly declared that this theme cannot be reduced to the suffering humanity of Jesus, but that it colors the Christian conception of God himself. The fact that the Father allows the Son to suffer constitutes the Father’s own Passion, and this is also the suffering of the Spirit, of whom Paul says that he sighs in us and that, in us and for us, he bears the passion of our longing for the fullness of redemption (Rom. 8, 26f). And it was also Origen, moreover, who formulated the normative hermeneutic on the theme of the suffering God: whenever you hear of God’s passions and sufferings, says Origen, you must always relate these to his love. God is a sufferer only because he is first a lover; the theme of the suffering God follows from the theme of the loving God and continually points to it. The decisive step that the Christian concept of God takes beyond that of the ancients is the realization that God is love.”
                And so, God can be rejected and suffer and not cease to be God as Greek “instrumental” reason saw it. They under stood that one suffers only by a diminution in being, and therefore God, within that metaphysic, would have to cease to be God to suffer. But if God is Love as Self-gift, He suffers because He is not received.[12]

                The Son of God dies, not because they kill Him (Person), but because He wills to die. Death is an act of the whole person. It is done to us; but it could not be done to Him (the Author of life). He would have to execute the action of dying by His divine Self.

John Henry Newman wrote: “He offered Himself wholly, a holocaust, a whole burnt-offering; - as the whole of His body, stretched out upon the Cross, so the whole of His soul, His whole advertence, His whole consciousness, a mind awake, a sense acute, a living co-operation, a present, absolute intention, not a virtual permission, not a heartless submission, this did He present to His tormentors. His passion was an action; He lived most energetically, while He lay languishing, fainting, and dying. Nor did He die, except by an act of the will; for He bowed His head, in command as well in resignation, and said, ‘Father, into Thy hands I comend My Spirit;’ He gave the word, He surrendered His soul, He did not love it.

                “Thus you see, my brethren, had our Lord only suffered in the body, and in ti not so much as other men, still as regards the pain, He would have really suffered indefinitely more, because pain is to be measured by the power of realizing it. God was the sufferer; God suffered in His human nature; the sufferings belonged to God, and were drunk up, were drained out to the bottom of the chalice, because God drank them; not tasted or sipped, not flavored, disguised by human medicaments, as man disposes of the cup of anguish.”[13]

                Now, in the light of the mental revolution that we must undergo to come to grips with the reality of God in His own creation and living a human life in time and space through a full humanity, we can begin to understand the unthinkable horror of deicide and the return we received from it: Shalom: “Peace to you! It is I, do not be afraid” (Lk. 24, 36).
                Barron wrote: “According to the standard interpretation of justice and the traditional theology, this greatest of crimes would call for the greatest of retributions, but instead it is met with nonviolence, compassion, shalom. This in turn shows us that authentic justice is much different from what we had imagined and that God is much stranger than we had thought. God’s love is such that it can swallow up, absorb, and conquer even the most pointed resistance, and this becomes clear in the manner in which the murdered God restores order to the broken circle of his disciples. They (alone with many others) contributed to the killing of God, the most egregious violation of justice imaginable, and God answers this injustice with forgiving love. In light of this compassion that swallowed up the greatest of sins, Paul could exclaim, ‘I am certain that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers… neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Rom. 8, 38-39).  Human beings committed the unsurpassable sin – not only turning from God but actively opposing him, even to the point of putting him to death – and they were met with forgiveness. The only conclusion is the one that Paul drew: that nothing is powerful enough to turn back the relentlessness of the divine mercy.”[14]

                Conclusion: Revolutionaries!! Christ lives! “(R)ather than experts in dire predictions, dour judges bent on rooting out every threat and deviation, we should appear as joyful messengers of challenging proposals, guardians of the goodness and beauty which shine forth in a life of fidelity to the Gospel.”[15]

                The goal is not morality, virtues, orthodoxy, a religious life, apostolate, heaven…, all of which can be ways of looking for yourself. The goal is Christ, the God-Man. And you find Him by exercising in the Bread and the Word.



[1] Brazos Press (2007).
[2] Pope Francis, Joy of the Gospel #168
[3] Robert Sokolowski, The God of Faith and rEason, UNDP (1982) 8.
[4] Romano Guardini, The Lord Gateway (2002) 357-358.
[5] John F. Coverdale, “Uncommon Faith,” Scepter (2002) 93-94.
[6] Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, #163.
[7] Ibid #168
[8] Brazon Press (2007).
[9] Ibid. 133.
[10] Ibid 135.
[11] Ibid
[12] J. Ratzinger, “Paschal Mystery as Core and Foundation of Devotion to the Sacred Heart,” in Towards a Civilization of Love. Ignatius (1985) 154-155.
[13] John Henry Newman, Discourse 16 to Mixed Congregations:  Mental Sufferings of Our Lord in His Passion.
[14] Barron, Ibid, 125.
[15] Pope Francis, Joy of the Gospel #168

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Who Will Stand Up for the Christians?



·   
By RONALD S. LAUDERAUG. 19, 2014


·          
WHY is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa? In Europe and in the United States, we have witnessed demonstrations over the tragic deaths of Palestinians who have been used as human shields by Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza. The United Nations has held inquiries and focuses its anger on Israel for defending itself against that same terrorist organization. But the barbarous slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Christians is met with relative indifference.
The Middle East and parts of central Africa are losing entire Christian communities that have lived in peace for centuries. The terrorist group Boko Haram has kidnapped and killed hundreds of Christians this year — ravaging the predominantly Christian town of Gwoza, in Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, two weeks ago. Half a million Christian Arabs have been driven out of Syria during the three-plus years of civil war there. Christians have been persecuted and killed in countries from Lebanon to Sudan.
Historians may look back at this period and wonder if people had lost their bearings. Few reporters have traveled to Iraq to bear witness to the Nazi-like wave of terror that is rolling across that country. The United Nations has been mostly mum. World leaders seem to be consumed with other matters in this strange summer of 2014. There are no flotillas traveling to Syria or Iraq. And the beautiful celebrities and aging rock stars — why doesn’t the slaughter of Christians seem to activate their social antennas?
President Obama should be commended for ordering airstrikes to save tens of thousands of Yazidis, who follow an ancient religion and have been stranded on a mountain in northern Iraq, besieged by Sunni Muslim militants. But sadly, airstrikes alone are not enough to stop this grotesque wave of terrorism.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is not a loose coalition of jihadist groups, but a real military force that has managed to take over much of Iraq with a successful business model that rivals its coldblooded spearhead of death. It uses money from banks and gold shops it has captured, along with control of oil resources and old-fashioned extortion, to finance its killing machine, making it perhaps the wealthiest Islamist terrorist group in the world. But where it truly excels is in its carnage, rivaling the death orgies of the Middle Ages. It has ruthlessly targeted Shiites, Kurds and Christians.
“They actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick” a Chaldean-American businessman named Mark Arabo told CNN, describing a scene in a Mosul park. “More children are getting beheaded, mothers are getting raped and killed, and fathers are being hung.”
This week, 200,000 Aramaeans fled their ancestral homeland around Nineveh, having already escaped Mosul.
The general indifference to ISIS, with its mass executions of Christians and its deadly preoccupation with Israel, isn’t just wrong; it’s obscene.
In a speech before thousands of Christians in Budapest in June, I made a solemn promise that just as I will not be silent in the face of the growing threat of anti-Semitism in Europe and in the Middle East, I will not be indifferent to Christian suffering. Historically, it has almost always been the other way around: Jews have all too often been the persecuted minority. But Israel has been among the first countries to aid Christians in South Sudan. Christians can openly practice their religion in Israel, unlike in much of the Middle East.
This bond between Jews and Christians makes complete sense. We share much more than most religions. We read the same Bible, and share a moral and ethical core. Now, sadly, we share a kind of suffering: Christians are dying because of their beliefs, because they are defenseless and because the world is indifferent to their suffering.
Good people must join together and stop this revolting wave of violence. It’s not as if we are powerless. I write this as a citizen of the strongest military power on earth. I write this as a Jewish leader who cares about my Christian brothers and sisters.
The Jewish people understand all too well what can happen when the world is silent. This campaign of death must be stopped.
Ronald S. Lauder is the president of the World Jewish Congress.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Papal Envoy: Iraqi Minorities Facing Genocide, Calls For Urgent Action
Cardinal Filoni Appeals to International Community to Intervene, Says Visit of "Great Benefit"
By Staff Reporter

BAGHDAD, August 20, 2014 (Zenit.org) - The Pope’s special envoy to Iraq has said Christians and religious minorities in the country are facing genocide and the international community must act quickly to come to their aid.
In an interview with the Italian bishops’ newspaper Avvenire Wednesday, Cardinal Fernando Filoni said Iraqis have told him the world must urgently help them and “not wait until they are in a hopeless situation.”
“We are faced with a tragedy that is genocide,” Cardinal Filoni said, “because when all the men are taken and killed, when women are robbed, taken away, their dignity violated in the worst human way and then sold, then you are destroying these people, knowing that in this way they will no longer have a future.”

The special envoy, who has been in Iraq and Jordan since Aug. 12, was speaking after celebrating Mass in Ankawa, an Assyrian suburb of Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Pope Francis sent Cardinal Filoni to the region after Islamic State terrorists brutally drove Christians and Yazidis from their homes in northern Iraq.
Asked about offering the religious minorities international protection, the Church diplomat echoed comments made by other Church leaders in suggesting that military action is necessary but on a multilateral basis. The international community “must intervene to take responsibility for the situation and not only morally,” he said. “It’s nice to say we defend these people, but they are dying. How can they be removed from the clutches of these predators? There’s already an answer.”

He said a “stable solution” must be found to the refugee crisis, and that the primary responsibility for dealing with those displaced rests with the civil authorities, but with help from international bodies such as the United Nations and the European Union. “We must act at different levels and with different capacities,” he said.

The special envoy said his presence on behalf of the Pope has been much appreciated. “My visit has been of great benefit,” he said. Thousands, he said, have told him and the authorities: “Thank you for coming to see how we are”, “please don’t forget about us,” and “tell people about us.”  
“As a pastor,” Cardinal Filoni added, “I feel that these are the forgotten sheep that, as Pope Francis said, we must take on our shoulders.” He said the local church, bishops and patriarchy have all "given an extraordinary hand", and although they alone cannot give hope, "we promise to be always present." He added that “walking in the midst” of the Iraqi people “gives us strength and gives them strength to want to continue living here.”

“As [Iraq’s] President Barzani said, ‘This is a mosaic of large stones and small stones, but even removing only one piece of the jigsaw, we are no longer the same: this is not Iraq.’ We must ensure that these stones do not fall, but are part of this coexistence. We must find a means to foster peaceful coexistence.” 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

St. Maximilian Kolbe: Love Lives Through Sacrifice
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-AmOCVqu7FFs/U-z3og04-1I/AAAAAAAAKYs/tSDVe7uK9_c/s1600/barbed_wire2.jpg

Love lives through sacrifice

and is nourished by giving....
Genuine love rises above creatures
and soars up to God.
In Him, by Him, and through Him it loves all men,
both good and wicked,
friends and enemies.
To all it stretches out a hand filled with love;
it prays for all,
suffers for all,
wishes what is best for all,
desires happiness for all,
because that is what God wants.
~ St. Maximilian Kolbe, Martyr of Auschwitz, August 14, 1941

Monday, August 18, 2014


Francis: Evangelisation is not about bringing the other person to me

  "Pope Benedict XVI said it very clearly: 'the Church does not grow through proselytism but by attracting others. If we want to get to the theological root of this we go to the Father, we are all children of the Father.'"

(08/17/2014 
©Afp)
 THE POPE AT HIS MEETING WITH ASIA'S BISHOPS

Today Francis addressed 70 Asian bishops and invited the Church to be “versatile and creative”, explaining that dialogue and openness to all are inherent in Christian identity

ANDREA TORNIELLI

SHRINE OF HAEMI

The Asian Church is called to be “versatile and creative”, aware of its own Christian identity. Dialogue, openness and empathy towards others are inherent in Christian identity. And this makes  one receptive and able to listen. Pope Francis addressed seventy Asian bishops at the shrine of Haemi, where he gave the most important speech of his Korean visit, especially thanks to his customary deviations from the prepared text.
Francis chose not to sit in the throne that had been prepared for him on a raised platform. Instead he approached the microphone and lectern on the same level as the bishops’ seats. At one point the lectern collapsed and the Pope joked: “My speech has taken nose-dive”.

Francis said “dialogue” and an “openness to all” are essential in the Church’s mission in Asia. Our own identity must be our point of departure: “We cannot engage in real dialogue unless we are conscious of our own identity.  Nor can there be authentic dialogue unless we are capable of opening our minds and hearts, in empathy and sincere receptivity, to those with whom we speak.” The word “empathy” which the Pope uses in the written text corresponds to the trademark Spanish term he uses to refer to a church that is close to people, “iglesia de la cercanía”. “If our communication is not to be a monologue, there has to be openness of heart and mind to accepting individuals and cultures.”

The Pope went on to present some risks. “Everyday practical relativism which almost imperceptibly saps our sense of identity” and affects Christians communities too. “Superficiality, a tendency to toy with the latest fads, gadgets and distractions, rather than attending to the things that really matter.” This also poses a pastoral problem: “For theministers of the Church, it can also make itself felt in an enchantment with pastoral programs and theories, to the detriment of direct, fruitful encounter with our faithful, especially the young who need solid catechesis and sound spiritual guidance.” “Without a grounding in Christ ... dialogue can be reduced to a form of negotiation or an agreement to disagree.”

Then there is a “third temptation”, the Pope said: “that of the apparent security to be found in hiding behind easy answers, ready formulas, rules and regulations.” A “law and order”-style Christianity that manifests itself in the Church in many different forms. “Jesus fought so hard against people who behaved in a superficial manner; they are hypocrites,” he said in an off the cuff comment. “Faith by nature is not self-absorbed; it “goes out”.  It seeks understanding; it gives rise to testimony; it generates mission.”
In sum, “it is our living faith in Christ which is our deepest identity.” Being rooted in the Lord is what is important, everything else is secondary “because Christ is our life, let us speak “from him and of him” readily and without hesitation or fear.  The simplicity of his word becomes evident in the simplicity of our lives, in the simplicity of our communication, in the simplicity of our works of loving service to our brothers and sisters.”

“Authentic dialogue” and “empathy” were at the heart of the Pope’s speech. “We are challenged to listen not only to the words which others speak, but to the unspoken communication of their experiences, their hopes and aspirations, their struggles and their deepest concerns.” “Such empathy must be the fruit of our spiritual insight and personal experience, which lead us to see others as brothers and sisters, and to “hear”, in and beyond their words and actions, what their hearts wish to communicate.”

“I cannot engage in dialogue unless I am open to others. What I should say is: come into my home; we have to open up our hearts.” “This capacity for empathy enables a true human dialogue in which words, ideas and questions arise from an experience of fraternity and shared humanity.  It leads to a genuine encounter in which heart speaks to heart.  We are enriched by the wisdom of the other and become open to travelling together the path to greater understanding, friendship and solidarity.”
“But my brother Pope, if I act like this, no one will ever convert!” Francis said voicing a possible objection. “You do this, listen to that, walk with him. This refers to the doctrine of our father Abraham ... I should not bring the other to me. Pope Benedict XVI said it very clearly: the Church does not grow through proselytism but by attracting others.” “If we want to get to the theological root of this we go to the Father, we are all children of the Father.”

Dialogue has its basis in “the incarnation in Jesus, God himself became one of us, shared in our life and spoke to us in our own language.”Here the Pope pronounced a phrase from the prepared speech, adding one very significant point in reference to China. “In this spirit of openness to others, I earnestly hope that those countries of your continent with which the Holy See does not yet enjoy a full relationship, may not hesitate to further a dialogue for the benefit of all. And here I do not only refer to political dialogue but to fraternal dialogue as well.” In an improvised statement, he then added: “These Christians do not come as conquerors; they don’t come to take away our identity. They bring us their own identity but want to walk with us.” “The Lord will grant us his grace, some will ask for baptism and some will not, but we will always walk together.”

Essentially, Christians do not intend to impose any cultural models and neither are they motivated by political strategies. They simply wish to proclaim the Gospel, not achieve a political regime change.


The Ontological and Epistemic Priority of Christ (in view of Robert Barrons’s “The Priority of Christ”[1]


 “(R)ather than experts in dire predictions, dour judges bent on rooting out every threat and deviation, we should appear as joyful messengers of challenging proposals, guardians of the goodness and beauty which shine forth in a life of fidelity to the Gospel.”[2]


The Epistemic Priority of Christ: The mind-boggling reality consists in that God, the Creator of all things, has become man. This is the truth that St. Anselm was after, and Robert Sokolowski clarifies in a very important way. Anselm had said that God was “that than which nothing greater can be thought.”  Sokolowski  writes: “Anselm’s argument works explicitly with the contrast between being in the mind and being in reality. This contrast, the two ways of being that it distinguishes, are themselves deserving of further thought. But besides this explicit premise for his argument, there is another, an implicit premise, which the argument requires but which is not expressed openly by Anselm in chapter two [of the Proslogian]. This implicit premise also contains a contrast. It might be formulated as the statement that:
                (God plus the world) is not greater than God alone;”[3]

                The point Sokolowski makes is that the being of God is so different from the world, that His Being (reality) would not be more because the world exists, nor would It be less if it did not. That is to say, the Being of God as Creator of all things is so different from the being of all things that they are incommensurable. That is not to say that they are not analogous insofar as they are; but rather to say that the way that they are is epistemically different. That is, you cannot know God the way you know things. Or better, you can, but that is not the way God is.

                What does that mean? That the Being of God is not part of the world that we know by the experience of sensation, abstraction and rational thought.  His humanity is, indeed, “part” of our world, but His divine Person is not “part” but Creator of all of it.  Nevertheless, His humanity was assumed by His divine Person, and therefore, is it. Being Creator of the world, and yet “in” it, He must be known – as incarnate God in Jesus Christ - through the experience of ourselves as created images of Himself and baptized into Him. We do this by transcending ourselves in the act of faith as He is totally out of Himself as Son of the Father.

Romano Guardini says it thus: “The person of Jesus is unprecedented and therefore measureable by no already existing norm. Christian recognition consists of realizing that all things really began with Jesus Christ; that he is his own norm – and therefore ours – for he is Truth.
                “Christ’s effect upon the world can be compared with nothing in its history save its own creation: ‘In the beginning God created heaven and earth.’ What takes place in Christ is of the same order as the original act of creation, though on a still higher level. For the beginning of the new creation is as far superior to the love which created the stars, plants, animals and men. That is what the words mean: ‘I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled’? (Lk. 12, 49). It is the fire of new becoming; not only ‘truth’ or ‘love,’ but the incandescence of new creation…. Down, down through terrible destruction he descends, to the nadir of divine creation whence saved existence can climb back into being…
                Guardini then points out that this will demand a new way of knowing: “Now we understand what St. Paul meant with his ‘excelling knowledge of Jesus Christ:’ the realization that this is who Christ is, the Descender. To make this realization our own is the alpha and omega of our lives, for it is not enough to know Jesus only as the Savior. With this supreme knowledge serious religious life can begin, and we should strive for it with our whole strength and earnestness, as a man  strives to reach his place in his profession; as a scientist wrestles with the answer to his problem; as one labors at this life work or for the hand of someone loved above all else.”[4]
                And then, from my perspective, he makes an implicit reference to the spirit of Opus Dei as I understand it: “Are these directives for saints?  No, for Christians. For you. How long must I wait? God knows. He can give himself to you overnight, you can also wait twenty years, but what are they in view of his advent? One day he will come. Once in the stillness of profound composure you will know: that is Christ! Not from a book or the word of someone else, but through him. He who is creative love brings your intrinsic potentialities to life. Your ego at its profoundest is he.”

                This is totally the charism Escriva received existentially on October 2, 1928 which was not in the theological/legal structure of the Church, but which became so in Vatican II in 1964 [Lumen Gentium #31]. And you will know Christ in the most profound intimacy with the most radical realism because you will become Him, such that you will hear from the Father: “You are my Son; you are Christ.” Escriva wrote: “When God sent me those blows back in 1931, I didn’t understand them… The all at once, in the midst of such great bitterness, came the words: ‘You are my son (Ps. 2, 7), you are Christ.’ And I could only stammer: ‘Abba, Pater! Abba, Pater! Abba! Abba! Abba!’ Now I see it with new light, like a new discovery, just as one sees, after years have passed, the hand of God, of divine Wisdom, of the All-Powerful. You’ve led me, Lord, to understand that to find the Cross is to find happiness, joy. And I see the reason with greater clarity than ever: to find the Cross is to identify oneself with Christ, to be Christ, and therefore to be a son of God.”[5]

                With this in view, Pope Francis encourages “the fundamental role of the first announcement or kerygma, which is the first proclamation that must ring out over and over: “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now  he is living at your side every day to to enlighten, strengthen and free you.” Since it is addressing the unique ontological reality of the God-Man, it is “the principal proclamation, the one which we must hear again and again in different ways, the one which we must announce one way or another throughout the process of catechesis, at every level and moment.”[6]  And as a result, “rather than experts in dire predictions, dour judges bent on rooting out every threat and deviation, “we should appear as joyful messengers of challenging proposals, guardians of the goodness and beauty which shine forth in a life of fidelity to the Gospel.”[7]



[1] Brazos Press (2007).
[2] Ibid #168
[3] Robert Sokolowski, The God of Faith and rEason, UNDP (1982) 8.
[4] Romano Guardini, The Lord Gateway (2002) 357-358.
[5] John F. Coverdale, “Uncommon Faith,” Scepter (2002) 93-94.
[6] Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, #163.
[7] Ibid #168

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The First Appropriate Legal Category in the Church’s Legislation For Opus Dei



From “Saxum” [J. F. Coverdale, Scepter 2014, p. 131]:
          In an audience on October 10, 1964, Pope Paul VI told Escriva that the documents being prepared by the council might contain a solution. The decree Presbyterorum ordinis did… allow for the creation of personal prelatures, a legal structure admirably suited to reflect the reality of Opus Dei. In the mid-1960s, several papal documents fleshed out the necessary framework. Del Portillo played a role in the writing of the most important of these, the motu proprio Ecclesiae Sanctae. Now, for the first time in the history of Opus Dei, an appropriate legal category existed in the Church’s legislation. But rather than    request the immediate transformation of Opus Dei into a personal prelature, Escriva preferred to continue to wait and pray for the right moment. Don Alvaro joined fervently in his prayer” (131).

[Text]

ECCLESIAE SANCTAE
[August 6. 1966]

ISSUED MOTU PROPRIO [Paul VI]
IMPLEMENTING THE FOLLOWING DECREES
OF VATICAN COUNCIL II:
…..
PRESBYTERORUM ORDINIS
Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests

…..
…..
 Moreover, to carry on special pastoral or missionary work for various regions or social groups which are in need of special assistance, prelatures composed of priests from the secular clergy equipped with special training can be usefully established by the Apostolic See. These prelatures are under the government of their own prelate and possess their own statutes.

It will be in the competence of this prelate to establish and direct a national or international seminary in which students are suitably instructed. The same prelate has the right to incardinate the same students and to promote them to sacred orders under the title of service for the prelature.

The prelate must make provision for the spiritual life of those whom he has ordained according to the above title, and for the continual perfecting of their special training and their special ministry making agreements with the local Ordinaries to whom the priests are sent. He must likewise provide for their proper support, a matter which must be provided for through the same agreements, matter from the resources which belong to the prelature itself or from other suitable resources. In like manner he must provide for those who on account of poor health or for other causes must leave the task assisted to them.

Laymen, whether single or married, may also dedicate themselves with their professional skill to the service of these works and projects after making an agreement with the prelature.


Such prelatures are not erected unless the episcopal conferences of the territory in which they will render their services have been consulted. In rendering this service, diligent care is to be taken to safeguard the rights of local Ordinaries and close contacts with the same episcopal conferences are always to be maintained.