Christianity is not a religion of the Book. It cannot be defined:
“I have my doubts as to whether the quintessentially Catholic, as living structure, can be captured in a formula. One can try to indicate the essential elements, but it requires more than just knowing something about it, as I can, for example know something about a party program. It is an entrance into a living structure, and it comprises the totality of one’s life plan. For this reason, it can never, I think, be expressed in words alone. It has to be a way of living, of lived identification, a merging with a way of thinking and understanding. The two things enrich each other.” (1)
Christianity has no essence as a "nature." There is no "essence" of Christianity, insofar as Christianity is not "thing," reducible to an institution. Rather, it is a Person who must be personally experienced. Therefore, the “New Evangelization” (that John Paul II spoke of continuously) is to live in a certain way, and so become happy. This “living” is not identical to morality (as justice) but to self-giving (holiness).
This “self-giving” is prayer, and the turning of all action into prayer. One who prays, and turns action into prayer, “knows” Jesus Christ. He who knows Jesus Christ, knows the Father and has eternal life: “This is everlasting life: that they may know thee, the only true God, and him whom thou hast sent, Jesus Christ,” Jn 17, 3).
This “knowing” is not scientific logic, but the experience John Henry Newman will refer to as the knowledge of self and the knowledge of God of which he is more certain than that he has hands and feet.
This self-giving is also the revealed meaning of truth and freedom. (2)
First Step: John Henry Newman: The Background is Nazi totalitarianism: “We had experienced the claim of a totalitarian party, which understood itself as the fulfillment of history and which negated the conscience of the individual. One of its leaders had said: `I have no conscience. My conscience is Adolf Hitler.’ The appalling devastation of humanity that followed was before our eyes.”
“So it was liberating and essential for us to know that the `we’ of the church does not rest on a cancellation of conscience, but that exactly the opposite, it can only develop from conscience.
“Precisely because Newman interpreted the existence of the human being from conscience, that is, from the relationship between God and the soul(3), was it clear that this personalism is not individualism, and that being bound by conscience does not mean being free to make random choices – the exact opposite is the case.(4)
In fact, Ratzinger finds in Newman’s experience of conscience the consciousness of the being of the human person as relational, i.e., as “inner ontological tendency… created in the likeness of God, toward the divine.” Newman’s understanding of conscience opened Ratzinger to a personalist understanding of Revelation and faith as well as openness to the Magisterium. It also supplants what has hitherto been called “natural law” with “the law of the person.” In 1990 he coined the word “anamnesis” to refer to conscience and explained:
“(The word `anamnesis’) means that the first so-called ontological level of the phenomenon conscience consists in the fact that something like an original memory of the good and true (both are identical) has been implanted in us, that there is an inner ontological tendency within man, who is created in the likeness of God, toward the divine. From its origin, man’s being resonates with some things and clashes with others. This anamnesis of the origin, which results from the godlike constitution of our being is not a conceptually articulated knowing, a store of retrievable contents. It is so to speak an inner sense, a capacity to recall, so that the one whom it addresses, if he is not turned in on himself, hears it echo from within. He sees: That’s it! That is what my nature points to and seeks.”
He goes on to explain that the possibility, right and indeed necessity to evangelize the pagan and the unbeliever is precisely the fact there is an ontological
“yearning for it in the hidden recesses of their souls (cf. Isaiah 42, 4). Mission is vindicated then when those addressed recognize in the encounter with the word of the gospel that this indeed is what they have been waiting for…. Proclamation answered an expectation. Their [the apostles] proclamation encountered an antecedent basic knowledge of the essential constants of the will of God which came to be written down in the commandments, which can be found in all cultures… The love of God … is not imposed on us from without… but has been implanted in us beforehand. The sense of the good has been stamped upon us… We can now appreciate Newman’s toast first to conscience and then to the pope. The pope cannot impose commandments on faithful Catholics because he wants to or finds it expedient…. The anamnesis instilled in our being needs, one might say, assistance from without so that it can become aware of itself. But this `from without’ is not something set in opposition to anamnesis but ordered to it.”(5)
Second Step: From Newman (1946) to St. Bonaventure (1953): The Relation of Revelation and Faith. The Person of Jesus Christ is the fullness of the Revelation of the Father. However, faith is the experience of self gift to the revealing Christ. As this experience increases, the “veil” is removed, and there is a development of doctrine.
On Newman: “In the idea of `development,’ Newman had written his own experience of a never finished conversion and interpreted for us, not only the way of Christian doctrine, but that of the Christian life.”(6)
On Bonaventure: “Bonaventure holds that the content of faith is found not in the letter of Scripture but in the spiritual meaning lying behind the letter. Furthermore, we can see why it is that for Bonaventure, Scripture simply as a written document does not constituent revelation whereas the understanding of Scripture which arises in theology can be called revelation at least indirectly. We can easily understand this in view of the process of revelation itself; for in this process, `revelation’ is understood to consist precisely in the understanding of the spiritual sense.(7)
The Impact of the above on Ratzinger: In a preliminary stage, he fails his “rehabilitation” thesis because of the above (on its importance in Vatican II, see below):
“But he [Michael Schmaus] also did not like the result of my analyses. I had ascertained that in Bonaventure (as well as in theologians of the thirteenth century) there was nothing corresponding to our conception of `revelation,’ by which we are normally in the habit of referring to all the revealed contents of the faith: it has even become a part of linguistic usage to refer to Sacred Scripture simply as `revelation.’ Such an identification would have been unthinkable in the language of the High Middle Ages. Here, `revelation’ is always a concept denoting an act. The word refers to the act in which God shows himself, not to the objectified result of this act. And because this is so, the receiving subject is always also a part of the concept of `revelation.’ Where there is no one to perceive `revelation,’ no re-vel-ation has occurred, because no veil has been removed. By definition, revelation requires a someone who apprehends it. These insights, gained through my reading of Bonaventure, were later on very important for me at the time of the conciliar discussion on revelation, Scripture, and tradition. Because, if Bonaventure is right, then revelation precedes Scripture and becomes deposited in Scripture but is not simply identical with it. This in turn means that revelation is always something greater than what is merely written down. And this again means that there can be no such thing as pure sola scriptura (`by Scripture alone’), because an essential element of Scripture is the Church as understanding subject, and with this the fundamental sense of tradition is already given.”(8)
The Impact on Vatican II: “(W)hen the text on revelation was to be proposed for discussion, Cardinal Frings – and there, admittedly, I did play a part – explained that the text as it was then worded was not an adequate starting point. It was, he said, necessary to start from the ground up, to rework the document within the council itself. That really sounded the alarm. It was what really first led to the saying that we will rework the texts ourselves.
In the third speech, which has become famous, the subject was the necessity of reforming the methods of the Holy Office and the need for a transparent procedure there. Those are the speeches that stuck in the mind of the public.”(9)
Question: “You were considered a progressive theologian. As a professor you were at this time a star yourself, your lectures were filled to overflowing. You debated openly about frankness, tolerance. You also thundered against the neoscholastic rigidity of Rome and severely reproached the Vatican authorities for leading the Church into rigidity. As a young theologian you complained at the time that the Church had `reins that are too tight, too many laws, many of which have helped to leave the century of unbelief in the lurch, instead of helping it to redemption.’ One can probably say that without your involvement the reforms of the Second Vatican Council would have been unthinkable.”(10)
“There was a very strong desire among the Council Fathers really to venture something new and to leave behind the habitual scholastic framework, also to risk a new freedom. That went from South America to Australia. Whether there was already a similar desire n Africa, I cannot say. In any case, there was such a desire present in wide segments of the episcopate.
I cannot recall the individual sentences you cited, but it is correct that I was of the opinion that scholastic theology, in the form it had come to have, was no longer an instrument for bringing faith into the contemporary discussion. It had to get out of its armor; it also had to face the situation of the present in a new language, in a new openness. So a greater freedom also had to arise in the Church.(11)
* * * * * *
Third Step: The Implications of the above on Greek Philosophy: The Greek understanding of being-as-substance (to-be-in-self-and-not-in-another) is “exploded:” Ratzinger comments in his 1968 “Introduction to Christianity:”
“Therein lies concealed a revolution in man’s view of the world: the sole dominion of thinking in term of substance is ended; relation is discovered as an equally valid primordial mode of reality. It becomes possible to surmount what we call today `objectifying thought;’ a new plane of being comes into view. It is probably true to say that the task imposed on philosophy as a result of these facts is far from being complete – so much does modern thought depend on the possibilities thus disclosed, but for which it would be inconceivable.”(12)
a) Person in the Trinity:
“He is not called Father with reference to himself but only in relation to the Son; seen by himself he is simply God” (Augustine). “Here the decisive point comes beautifully to light. `Father’ is purely a concept of relationship. Only in being-for the other is he Father; in his own being-in-himself he is simply God. Person is the pure relation of being related, nothing else. Relationship is not something extra added to the person, as it is with us; it only exists at all as relatedness…. This means that the first Person does not beget the Son in the sense of the act of begetting coming on top of the finished Person; it is the act of begetting, of giving oneself, of streaming forth. It is identical with the act of giving. Only as this act is it person, and therefore it is not the giver but the act of giving… `wave’ not `corpuscle’… In this idea of relativity in word and love, independent of the concept of substance and not to be classified among the `accidents,’ Christian thought discovered the kernel of the concept of person, which describes something other and infinitely more than the mere idea of the `individual’” (132).
b) Person in Jesus Christ Person in Jesus Christ: If the meaning of Being/Person in the Trinity is relation, as pure act of relating, then the Being/Person of Jesus Christ who is Trinitarian Person must show that same dynamic as man. Therefore, the word “Christ” as anointed messiah was transformed into the proper name of Jesus and from a very early period was used, as it still as, as the definition of what this Jesus is.(13) Ratzinger explains:
“For what faith really states is precisely that with Jesus it is not possible to distinguish office and person; with him, this differentiation simply becomes inapplicable. The person is the office, the office is the person. The two are no longer divisible. Here there is no private area reserved for an `I’ which remains in the background behind the deeds and actions and thus at some time or other can be `off duty;’ here there is no `I’ separate from the work; the `I’ is the work and the work is the `I.’”(15)
Again Josef Ratzinger now Benedict XVI: “This Jesus… possesses nothing of his own; everything he has is from the Father and for the Father. So he says that his doctrine is not his own but comes from the One who sent him (cf. Jn 7, 16): and that he, the Son, cannot do anything by himself (cf. Jn 5, 19, 30).”
c) The Human Person: Major advertence: Scholastic theology considered Jesus’ Person as existential relation “from above,” i.e., from the side of the Trinity. But that same theology took the meaning of person from Boethius in substantialist (to be in self, and not in another [accident]) terms. The meaning of man taken from Greek and Latin philosophy as substantialist was “from below.”
“In this light, Boethius’s concept of person, which prevailed in Western philosophy, must be criticized as entirely insufficient. Remaining on the level of the Greek mind, Boethius defined `person’ as Naturae rationalis individual substantia, as the individual substance of a rational nature. One sees that the concept of person stands entirely on the level of substance. This cannot clarify anything about the Trinity or about Christology; it is an affirmation that remains on the level of the Greek mind which thinks in substantialist terms.”
The Great Caveat: Christ as Exception to Man: “Scholastic theology developed categories of existence out of this contribution given by Christian faith to the human mind. Its defect was that it limited these categories to Christology and to the doctrine of the Trinity and did no make them fruitful in the whole extent of spiritual reality. This seems to me also the limit of St. Thomas in the matter, namely, that within theology he operates… on the level of existence, but treats the whole thing as a theological exception (my underline), as it were. In philosophy, however, he remains faithful to the different approach of pre-Christian philosophy. The contribution of Christian faith to the whole of human thought is not realized; it remains at first detached from it as a theological exception, although it is precisely the meaning of this new element to call into question the whole of human thought and to set it on a new course.”
This brings us to the second misunderstanding that has not allowed the effects of Christology to work themselves out fully. The second great misunderstanding is to see Christ as the simply unique ontological exception which must be treated as such. This exception is an object of highly interesting ontological speculation, but it must remain separate in its box as an exception to the rule and must no be permitted to mix with the rest of human thought…. This seeming exception is in reality very often the symptom that shows us the insufficiency of our previous schema of order, which helps us to break open this schema and to conquer a new realm of reality. The exception shows us that we have built our closets too small, as it were, and that we must break them open and go on in order to see the whole.”(16)
The Result: Man does not image the divine Persons as Relations in his very being. Jesus Christ is not the prototype of man, but an exception. There would then be such a thing as “pure nature” or the “natural man” to whom the supernatural is added as a “second tier” to safeguard the gratuitousness of the supernatural. Holiness would not (as in fact it has not been) an intrinsic orientation of the very being of the human person, and therefore there is no de facto universal call to holiness.
* * * * * *
Vatican II Integrates Christ and the human person in Gaudium et Spes #22:
“In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear. For Adam, the first man, was a type of him who was to come, Christ the Lord, Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling…. He who is the `image of the invisible God’ (Col. 1, 15), is himself the perfect man who has restored in the children of Adam that likeness to God which had been disfigured ever since the first sin.”
The Positive Meaning of the Human Person in the Light of Christology: “Man, the only earthly being that God has willed for itself, finds himself by the sincere gift of himself” (Gaudium et spes #24).
In the light of this, Benedict XVI, on June 6, 2005, outlined the theology of the body as the enfleshed person imaging the Trinitarian Relations:
“Marriage and the family are not a casual sociological construct, fruit of particular historical and economic situations. On the contrary, the question of the right relationship between man and woman sinks its roots in the most profound essence of the human being, and can only find its answer in the latter. It cannot be separated from the always ancient and always new question of man about himself: Who am I? And this question, in turn, cannot be separated from the question about God: Does God exist? And, who is God? What is his face really like? The Bible’s answer to these two questions is unitary and consequential: Man is created in the image of God, and God himself is love. For this reason, the vocation to love is what makes man the authentic image of god: He becomes like God in the measure that he becomes someone who loves.
From this fundamental bond between God and man another is derived: The indissoluble bond between spirit and body. Man is, in fact, soul that expresses itself in the body and [the] body that is vivified by an immortal spirit. Also, the body of man and of woman has, therefore, so to speak, a theological character, it is not simply body, and what is biological in man is not only biological, but an expression and fulfillment of our humanity. In this way, human sexuality is not next to our being person, but belongs to it. Only when sexuality is integrated in the person does it succeed in giving itself meaning.”
This notion of “finding self by the sincere gift of self” carries on in, and is the defining center of, the Social Doctrine of the Church, to be found thematically presented in the “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church” (Libreria Editrice Vaticana).
* * * * * * *
Images Employed by Benedict XVI That Illustrate His Thought.1)
1) “If the Eye Were Not Solar, It Could Not Recognize the Sun” (Goethe)
Catechesis is Catechumenate. Christianity is “Way,” Before it is “Book.”
“We must familiarize ourselves with God’s style, so as to learn to bear His presence within us. In a theological expression: the image of God must be liberated within us, that image which gives us the capacity to have a communion of life with him.
Tradition compares this to a sculptor’s way of acting, when, piece by piece, he chips away at the stone until the shape he has in mind becomes visible.
Catechesis should also always be a process involving a type of assimilation with God, since in reality we can recognize only that for which a correspondence is found in us.”(17)
2) The Lamb, The Lion and The Dog: (“The Dictatorship of Relativism:” The Hegemony of Objectifying (reductive) Thought: Rationalism). “In the magnificent Romanesque cathedral of the little Apulian town of Troy, my interest was attracted, above all, by a somewhat enigmatic relief of the year 1158 that adorned the chancel. This relief shows three animals in whose hostile relationship the artist clearly intended to depict the condition of the church of his time. At the bottom of the group is a lamb that has been pounced upon by a greedy lion which holds it fast with his powerful claws and teeth. The lamb’s body has already been mangled. The bones are plainly visible and one sees the parts of the body have already been devoured. Only the infinitely sad expression on the animal’s face tells the viewer that the half-consumed lamb is still alive. In contrast to the powerlessness of the lamb, the lion is the expression of a brutal power to which the lamb has nothing to oppose but its helpless fear. It is clear that the lamb symbolizes the church, or better, the faith of and in the Church. What we see in this sculpture is a kind of `Report on the State of the Faith’ that seems to be deeply pessimistic. The true Church, the Church of faith, seems to have been already half-devoured by the powerful lion in whose claws she is held captive. She has no choice but to suffer her fate in defenseless woe. But this sculpture, which depicts with fitting realism the, humanly speaking, hopelessness of the Church’s plight, is likewise the expression of a hope that is convinced of the invincibility of the Faith. This hope is reflected in a remarkable way. A third animal, a small white dog, leaps upon the lion. Its strength seems totally disproportionate to that of the lion; nevertheless it attacks the lion with teeth and paws. It may itself still fall victim to the lion, but its intervention causes the lion to lose its grip on the lamb. While the symbolism of the lamb is relatively clear, this is not so of the other two animals. What does the lion symbolize? What does the little white dog symbolize? I have not been able to consult a history of art to find an answer to this question, nor do I know it. But another question must also be answered. What does the dramatic struggle of these three animals have to do with theology? The more I think of it, the more it seems to me that the sculpture is not making a theological statement, but a rather a challenge, an examination of conscience, a deliberately open question. Only the lamb is clearly defined. But the other two animals, the lion and the god – do they not stand for the two divergent orientations of theology, for its contradictory goals? The lion – does it not embody the historical attempt of theology to dominate faith? Does it not embody that violentia rationis – that despotic and brutal reason that Bonaventure would castigate a century later as distortion of theological thinking? And the courageous little dog – surely it symbolizes the opposite way, a theology that knows it is at the service of the Faith and is therefore prepared to make itself laughable by criticizing the want of moderation and the authoritarianism of reason alone. But if this is so, what a pointed question the relief in the chancel of Troy poses to the preacher and the theologian of all ages! It holds a mirror up to those who speak and to those who hear. It is an examination of conscience for pastors and for theologians alike, for either of these can prey upon the Church or be a shepherd to her. It follows, then, that that his sculpture, as never-to-be-answered question, can apply to all of us.”(18)
3) David, Dressed in the Armor of Saul, Sent Out to do Battle with Goliath ( The Church Turned Back on Herself: Clericalism and Objectified Thinking).
“There are some very real grounds to fear that the Church may assume too many institutions of human law, which then become the armor of Saul making it difficult for the young David to walk. We must always ascertain if institutions which were once useful still serve a purpose. The only institutional element the Church needs is the one given to it by the Lord: the sacramental structure of the people of God, centered on the Eucharist.”(19)
* * * * * * *
“The more organism we created, however up-to-date they may be, the less space we leave for the spirit, the less space there si for the Lord, and still less for liberty. From this point of view, I think we must embark on an examination of conscience in the Church, at all levels and without reserve. At all levels, such an examination of conscience should bring concrete results as well as ablatio (elimination), which would allow the Church’s true face to shine through once again.” (20)
“The more we give ourselves to do in the Church, the less liveable it becomes because everything human is limited and all human things are contrasted by other human things. The more the Church stops to listen and the more central all that comes from Him – the Word and the Sacraments he have us – is within it, the more it will be the dwelling place of the heart of men.”(21)
(The sacramental structure of Opus Dei as Communio/Prelature on the analogy of a diocese: to be developed: the irreducible ontological structure of layman and minister as opposing yet complementary relations, dynamized to mutual and reciprocal self-giving by the truth telling and love of the Prelate as "Father," the whole directed to the apostolate in the world characterized by "secularity.")
3) The Tower of Babel and Pentecost = Jesus and the Samaritan Woman by the Well: Prototypes of Catechesis:
a) The Tower of Babel and Pentecost.
“In the background of this text is the Old Testament story of the tower of Babel; the two stories, taken together, provide us with a penetrating insight into the theology of history. The Old Testament account tells us that human beings, their sense of independence augmented by the progress they had made, attempted to build a tower that would reach heaven. That is, they believed that by their own powers of planning and constructing they could even build a bridge to heaven, make heaven accessible to themselves by their own efforts, and turn human beings into gods. The result of their effort was the confusion of tongues. The human race, which sought only itself and looked for salvation in the satisfaction of a ruthless egoism by means of economic power, suffered instead the consequence of egoism, which is the radical hostility of each to his fellows, so that no one can understand anyone else and therefore even egoism inevitably remains unsatisfied.
The New Testament account of Pentecost picks up these same ideas. It implies the conviction that contemporary mankind is sundered to its very roots; that is characterized by a superficial coexistence and a hostility which are based on self-divinization. As a result, everything is seen in a false perspective; human beings understand neither God nor the world nor their fellows nor themselves. The `Holy Spirit’ creates such an understanding because he is the Love that flows from the cross or self-renunciation of Jesus Christ.
We need not attempt here to reflect on the various dogmatic connections that are implied in such a description. For our purpose it is enough to recall the way Augustine tried to sum up the essential point of the Pentecost narrative. World history, he says, is a struggle between two kinds of love: self-love to the point of hatred for God, and love of God to the point of self-renunciation. This second love brings the redemption of the world and the self.
In my opinion it would already be a giant step forward if during the days of Pentecost we were to turn from the thoughtless use of our leisure to a reflection non our responsibility; if these days were to become the occasion for moving beyond purely rational thinking, beyond the kind of knowledge that is used in planning and can be stored up. To a discovery of spirit, of the responsibility truth brings, and of the values of conscience and love. Even if for a moment we were not to go a step further into the properly Christian realm, we would already be touching the hem of Christ and his Spirit.”(22)
b) “This periscope seems to me to be a beautiful and concrete illustration of what we have just been saying. It opens with the meeting of Jesus and the Samaritan woman in the context of a normal, human, everyday experience – the experience of thirst, which is surely one of man’s most primordial experiences. In the course of the conversation, the subject shifts to that thirst that is a thirst for life, and the point is made that one must drink again, must come again and again to the source. In this way, the woman is made aware of what in actuality she, like every human being, has always known but to which she has not always adverted: that she thirsts for life itself [Zoë] and that all the assuaging that she seeks and finds cannot slake this living, elemental thirst. The superficial `empirical’ experience has been transcended.
“But what has been revealed is still of this world. It is succeeded, therefore, by one of those conversations on two levels that are so characteristic of Jon’s technique of recording dialogue, the Johannine `misunderstanding,’ as it is called by the exegetes. From the fact that Jesus and the Samaritan woman, though they use the same words, have in mind two very different levels of meaning and, separated thus by the ambiguity of human speech, are speaking at cross-purposes, there is manifested the lasting incommensurability of faith and human experience however extensive that experience may be. For the woman understands by “water’ that of which the fairy tales speak: the elixir of life by virtue of which man will not die and his thirst for life that is familiar to her, whereas Jesus wants to reveal to her the true life, the Zoë.
“In the next stage, the woman’s full attention has been attracted to the subject of a thirst for life. She no longer asks for something, for water or for any other single thing, but for life, for herself. This explains the apparently totally unmotivated interpolation by Jesus: `Go and call your husband!’ (Jn. 4, 16), It is both intentional and necessary, for her life as a whole, with all its thirst, is the true subject here. As a result, there comes to light the real dilemma, the deep-seated waywardness, of her existence: she is brought face to face with herself. In general, we can reduce what is happening to the formula: one must know oneself as one really is if one is to know God. The real medium, the primordial experience of all experiences, is that man himself is the place in which and through which he experiences God. Admittedly, the circle could also be closed in the opposite direction: it could be said that it is only by first knowing God that one can properly know oneself.
“But we anticipate. As we have said, the woman must come first to the knowledge of herself, to the acknowledgement of herself. For what she makes now is a kind of confession: a confession in which, at last, she reveals herself unsparingly. Thus a new transition has occurred –to preserve our earlier terminology, a transition from empirical and experimental to `experiential’ experience, to `existential experience.’ The woman stands face to face with herself. It is no longer a question now of something but of the depths of the I itself and, consequently, of the radical poverty that is man’s I-myself, the place where this I is ultimately revealed behind the superficiality of the something. From this perspective, we might regard the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman as the prototype of catechesis. It must lead from the something to the I. Beyond every something it must ensure the involvement of man himself, of this particular man. It must produce self-knowledge and self-acknowledgment so that the indigence and need of man’s being will be evident.
“But let us return to the biblical text! The Samaritan woman has achieved this radical confrontation with her own self. In the moment in which this occurs, the question of all questions arises always and of necessity; the question about oneself becomes a question about God. It is only apparently without motivation but in reality inevitable that the woman should ask now: How do things stand with regard to adoration, that is, with regard to God and my relationship to him? (cf. Jn 4, 20). The question about foundation and goal makes itself heard. Only at this point does the offering of Jesus’ true gift become possible. For the `gift of God’ is God himself, God precisely as gift – that is, the Holy Spirit (cf. v10-24). At the beginning of the conversation, there seemed no likelihood that his woman, with her obviously superficial way of life, would have any interest in the Holy Spirit. But one she was led to the depths of her own being the question arose that must always arise if one is to ask the question that burns in one’s soul. Now the woman is aware of the real thirst by which she is driven. Hence, she can at last learn that it is for which this thirst thirsts.
“It is the purpose and meaning of all catechesis to lead to this thirst. For one who knows neither that there is a Holy Spirit nor that one can thirst for him, it cannot begin otherwise than with sensory perception. Catechesis must lead to self-knowledge, to the exposing of the I, so that it lets the masks fall and moves out of the realm of something into that of being. Its goal is conversion, that conversion of man that results in his standing face to face with himself. Conversio (`conversion,’ metanoia) is identical with self-knowledge, and self-knowledge is the nucleus of all knowledge. Conversio is the way in which man finds himself and thus now the question of all questions: How can I worship God? It is the question that means his salvation; it is the raison d’etre of catechesis.”(23)
What’s Going On Now?
1) No plan of governance except to listen to the Spirit with the Church so that the Lord lead.
2) Determination “to enact Vatican Council II:” >“I too, as I start in the service that is proper to the Successor of Peter, wish to affirm with force my decided will to pursue the commitment to enact Vatican Council II, in the wake of my predecessors and in faithful continuity with the millennia-old tradition of the Church. Precisely this year is the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of this conciliar assembly (December 8, 1965). With the passing of time, the conciliar documents have not lost their timeliness; their teachings have shown themselves to be especially pertinent to the new exigencies of the Church and the present globalized society.” (“First Message…)
“I believe… that the true time  of Vatican II has not yet come, that its authentic reception has not yet begun: it documents were quickly buried under a pile of superficial or frankly inexact publications. The reading of the letter of the documents will enable us to discover their true spirit. If thus rediscovered in their truth, those great texts will make it possible for us to understand just what happened and to react with a new vigor. I repeat: the Catholic who clearly and, consequently, painfully perceives the damage that has been wrought in his Church by the misinterpretations of Vatican II must find the possibility of revival in Vatican II itself. The Council is his, it does not belong to those who want to continue along a road whose results have been catastrophic. It does not belong to those, who, not by chance, don’t know just what to make of Vatican II, which they look upon as a `fossil of the clerical era.’”(24)
3) “…and the Present Globalized Society:” “This century’s developments have taught us that there is no such evidence that can serve as a firm and sure basis for all freedoms. Reason can very easily lose sight of the essential values; even the intuition on which Rorty relies does not hold true beyond a certain point… Thus… the totalitarian States of our century show clearly enough how easily the concept can be denied again. Freedom can abolish itself, become sick of itself, once it has become empty. This too we have experienced in our century: a majority decision can have the effect of destroying freedom….
"Strict positivism, which expresses itself in absolutizing the principle of the majority, will inevitably revert at some time into nihilism. This is the danger which we must confront whenever there is a question of defending freedom and human rights."In this regard A. de Tocqueville’s analysis of Democracy in America has always made a strong impression on me. For this structure, which in itself is fragile, to retain its cohesion and make possible an order of liberties in freedom lived in community, the great political thinker say as an essential condition the fact that a basic moral conviction was alive in America, one which nourished by Protestant Christianity, supplied the foundations for institutions and democratic mechanisms.
"In fact, institutions cannot maintain themselves and be effectives without common ethical convictions. These, in turn cannot come from a purely empirical reason. The decisions of the majority will themselves remain truly human and logical only if they presuppose the existence of a basic humanitarian sense and respect this as the true common good, the condition of al other goods. Such convictions require corresponding human attitudes, and these in turn cannot be developed unless the historical foundation of a culture and the ethical, religious judgments it contains are taken into consideration. For a culture and a nation to cut itself off from the great ethical and religious forces of its history amounts to committing suicide. Cultivating the essential moral judgments, and maintaining the protecting them without imposing them by force seems to me to be a condition for the survival of freedom in the face of all the forms of nihilism and their totalitarian consequences.
This is also how I see the public mission of the Christian Churches in the world of today.”(25)
3) June 9-10, 2005: Formation of the Person and Transmission of the Faith (“The Theology of the Body”)/Marriage and family in the History of Salvation”
“Anthropological foundation of the family
"Marriage and the family are not a casual sociological construct, fruit of particular historical and economic situations. On the contrary, the question of the right relationship between man and woman sinks its roots in the most profound essence of the human being, and can only find its answer in the latter. It cannot be separated from the always ancient and always new question of man about himself: Who am I? And this question, in turn, cannot be separated from the question about God: Does God exist? And, who is God? What is his face really like? The Bible's answer to these two questions is unitary and consequential: Man is created in the image of God, and God himself is love. For this reason, the vocation to love is what makes man the authentic image of God: He becomes like God in the measure that he becomes someone who loves.
From this fundamental bond between God and man another is derived: The indissoluble bond between spirit and body. Man is, in fact, soul that expresses itself in the body and [the] body that is vivified by an immortal spirit. Also, the body of man and of woman has, therefore, so to speak, a theological character, it is not simply body, and what is biological in man is not only biological, but an expression and fulfillment of our humanity. In this way, human sexuality is not next to our being person, but belongs to it. Only when sexuality is integrated in the person does it succeed in giving itself meaning.
In this way, from the two bonds, that of man with God and -- in man -- that of the body with the spirit, arises a third bond: the one that exists between person and institution. The totality of man includes the dimension of time, and man's "yes" goes beyond the present moment: In his totality, the "yes" means "always," it constitutes the area of fidelity. Only in his interior can this faith grow which gives a future and allows the children, fruit of love, to believe in man and in his future in difficult times.
The freedom of the "yes" appears therefore as freedom capable of assuming what is definitive: The highest expression of freedom is not therefore the pursuit of pleasure, without ever arriving at a genuine decision. Seemingly this permanent openness appears to be the realization of freedom, but it is not true: The true expression of freedom is, on the contrary, the capacity to decide for a definitive gift, in which freedom, by surrendering itself, finds itself fully again.
Concretely, the personal and reciprocal "yes" of man and woman opens space for the future, for the authentic humanity of each one, and at the same time is destined to the gift of a new life. For this reason, this personal "yes" must necessarily be a "yes" that is also publicly responsible, with which the spouses assume the public responsibility of faithfulness, which also guarantees the future for the community. None of us belongs exclusively to himself: Therefore, each one is called to assume in his deepest self his own public responsibility. Marriage, as an institution, is not therefore an undue interference of society or of the authorities, an imposition from outside in the most private reality of life; it is on the contrary an intrinsic exigency of the pact of conjugal love and of the depth of the human person.
The different present forms of the dissolution of marriage, as well as free unions and "trial marriage," including the pseudo-marriage between persons of the same sex, are on the contrary expressions of an anarchic freedom that appears erroneously as man's authentic liberation. A pseudo-freedom like this is based on a trivialization of the body, which inevitably includes the trivialization of man.
“The truth of marriage and the family, which sinks its roots in the truth of man, has found its application in the history of salvation, at whose center is the word: "God loves his people." In fact, biblical revelation is above all the expression of a history of love, the history of God's covenant with men. For this reason, God has been able to assume the history of love and of the union of a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage, as symbol of the history of salvation. The ineffable fact, the mystery of God's love for men, takes its linguistic form from the vocabulary of marriage and the family, both positive and negative: God's approach to his people is presented with the language of conjugal love, while Israel's infidelity, its idolatry, is designated as adultery and prostitution.
In the New Testament, God radicalizes his love until he becomes himself, through his Son, flesh of our flesh, authentic man. Thus, God's union with man has assumed its supreme, irreversible and definitive form. And in this way, the definitive form of human love is also drawn, that reciprocal "yes" that cannot be revoked. It does not alienate man, but liberates him from the alienations of history to return him to the truth of creation. The sacramental character that marriage assumes in Christ means, therefore, that the gift of creation has been raised to the grace of redemption. Christ's grace is not superimposed from outside of man's nature, it does not violate it, but liberates and restores it, by raising it beyond its frontiers. And just as the Incarnation of the Son of God reveals its true meaning in the cross, so also authentic human love is surrender of oneself; it cannot exist if it avoids the cross.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, this profound bond between God and man, between the love of God and human love, is also confirmed by some negative tendencies and developments, whose weight we all experience. The degradation of human love, the suppression of the authentic capacity to love appears in our time as the most effective weapon for man to crush God, to remove God from man's sight and heart. However, the desire to "liberate" God's nature makes one lose sight of the very reality of nature, including man's nature, reducing it to an ensemble of functions, which can be disposed of according to one's pleasure to build a so-called better world and a happier humanity. But on the contrary, the plan of the Creator is destroyed as is the truth of our nature.
Also in the procreation of children, marriage reflects its divine model, the love of God for man. In man and woman, paternity and maternity, as happens with the body and with love, the biological aspect is not circumscribed: life is only given totally when with birth, love and meaning are also given, which make it possible to say yes to this life. Precisely because of this, it is clear to what point the systematic closing of the union itself to the gift of life and, even more, the suppression or manipulation of unborn life is contrary to human love, to the profound vocation of man and woman.
However, no man and no woman, on their own and by their own strength, can give love and the meaning of life adequately to their children. To be able to say to someone: "your life is good, even if I don't know your future," needs a superior authority and credibility which the individual cannot give himself on his own. The Christian knows that that authority is conferred to that larger family that God, through his Son, Jesus Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, has created in the history of men, namely, to the Church. It acknowledges the action of that eternal and indestructible love that assures to the life of each one of us a permanent meaning, even if we do not know the future.”
Insight: Ratzinger’s mind on the relation of faith and reason:
“What is essential is that reason shut in on itself does not remain reasonable or rational, just as the state that aims at being perfect becomes tyrannical. Reason needs revelation in order to be able to be effective as reason. The connection between the state and its Christian foundations is imperative precisely if it is to remain the state and be pluralist."
1) J. Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth, Ignatius ( 1997) 19.
2) “If you abide in my word, you will be my disciple indeed; you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free,” Jn. 8, 32. The truth of freedom is the gift of self: “The crucified Christ reveals the authentic meaning of freedom; he lives it fully in the total gift of himself and calls his disciples to share in his freedom;” Veritatis Splendor #85.
3) “When I was fifteen (in the autumn of 1816), a great change of thought took place in me. I fell under the influences of a definite Creed, and received into my intellect impressions of dogma, which, through God’s mercy, have never been effaced or obscured… I received it [the doctrine of final perseverance] at once, and believed that the inward conversion of which I was conscious (and of which I still am more certain than that I have hands and feet) would last into the next life, and that I was elected to eternal glory. I have no consciousness that his belief had any tendency whatever to lead me to be careless about pleasing God. I retained it till the age of twenty-one, when it gradually faded away; but I believe that it had some influence on my opinions… viz. in isolating me from the objects which h surrounded me, in confirming me in my mistrust of the reality of material phenomena, and making me rest in the thought of two and two only absolute and luminously self-evident beings, myself and my Creator…” Apologia pro Vita Sua, Everyman’s Library (1993) 89.
4) “1990 Presentation, Cardinal Josef Ratzinger: The Theology of Cardinal Newman, “One of the `Great Teachers of the Church,’” L’Osservatore Romano N. 22 – June 2005, 9.
5) J. Ratzinger, “Conscience and Truth, in Catholic Conscience, Foundation and Formation, Proceedings of the Tenth Bishops’ Workshop Dallas, Texas The Pope John Center (1991) 20-21.
6) J. Ratzinger, “1990 Presentation…,”op. cit. In 1843, Newman Preached on Luke 2, 19: “Thus St Mary is our pattern of Faith, both in the reception and in the study of Divine Truth. She does not think it enough to accept, she dwells upon it; not enough to possess, she uses it; not enough to assent, she develops it; not enough to submit the Reason, she reasons upon it; not indeed rezoning first, and believing afterwards, with Zacharias, yet first believing without reasoning, next from love and reverence, reasoning after believing. And thus she symbolizes to us not only the faith of the unlearned, but of the doctors of the Church also, who have to investigate, and weigh, and define, as well as to profess the Gospel; to draw the line between truth and heresy; to anticipate or remedy the various aberrations of wrong reason; to combat pride and recklessness with their own arms; and thus to triumph over the sophist and the innovator” (The Theory of Developments in Religious Doctrine Preached on the Purification, 1843). Consider R.’s understanding of faith as having the “veil” of revelation removed in the “hearing of the word” by our Lady: In Luke, Mary stands as the embodiment of the Church’s memory. She is alert, taking events in and inwardly pondering them. Thus Luke says that she `kept’ them (lit., `preserved them together’) in her heart, she `pondered’ them (lit., `put them together’) and `kept them faithfully’ (lit., `held on to them’). Mary compares the words and events of faith with the ongoing experience of her life and thus discovers the full human depth of each detail, which gradually fits into the total picture. In this way faith becomes understanding and so can be handed on to others: it is no longer a merely external word but is saturated with the experience of a life, translated into human terms; now it can be translated, in turn, into the lives of others. Thus Mary becomes a model for the Church’s mission, i.e., that of being a dwelling place for the Word, preserving it and keeping it safe in times of confusion, protecting it, as it were, from the elements. Hence she is also the interpretation of the parable of the seed sowed in good soil and yielding fruit a hundredfold. She is not the thin surface earth which cannot accommodate roots; she is not the barren earth which the sparrows have pecked bare; nor is she overgrown by the weeds of affluence that inhibit her growth. She is a human being with depth. She lets the word sink deep into her. So the process of fruitful transformation can take place in a twofold direction: she saturates the Word with her life, as it were, putting the sap and energy of her life at the Word’s disposal; but as a result, conversely, her life is permeated, enriched and deepened by the energies of the Word, which gives everything its meaning. First of all it is she who digests the Word, so to speak, transmuting it; but in so doing she herself, with her life, is in turn transmuted into the Word. Her life becomes word and meaning. That is how the gospel is handed on in the Church…” Seek That Which Is Above , Ignatius  100-103).
7) J. Ratzinger, The Theology of History in St. Bonaventure, Franciscan Herald Press (1989) 66.
8) J. Ratzinger, Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977 Ignatius 107-109.
9) J. Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth, Ignatius (1997) 72-73.
10) Peter Seewald, Salt of the Earth. Ibid. 73.
11) Ibid., 73.
12) J. Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, Ignatius (2004) 184; (1990) 132.
13) J. Ratzinger, Ibid. 149.
14) J. Ratzinger, Ibid. 149.
15) Benedict XVI, Address to Clergy of Rome, 5/20/05.
16) J. Ratzinger, “Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology,” Communio 17 (Fall 1990) 449.
17) J. Ratzinger, “What Does the Church Believe?” The Catholic World Report March 1993, 59.
18) J. Ratzinger, Co-Workers of the Truth Ignatius (1992) 202-203.
19) J. Ratzinger, 30 Days, No. 5 – 1998, p. 22.
20) J. Ratzinger, 30 Days, No. 1-- 1992, p. 3.
21) J. Ratzinger, Ibid. Compare this affirmation with the opening remarks of Benedict’s homily at the Mass for his inauguration: “My real programme of governance is not to do my own will, not to pursue my own ideas, but to listen, together with the whole Church, to the word and the will of the Lord, to be guided by Him, so that He himself will lead the Church at this hour of our history. Instead of putting forward a programme, I should simply like to comment on the two liturgical symbols which represent the inauguration of the Petrine Ministry… the Pallium…, an image of the yoke of Christ… the lamb’s wool is meant to represent the lost, sick or weak sheep which the shepherd places on his shoulders and carries to the waters of life….The second symbol… is… the fisherman’s ring. Peter’s call to be shepherd… comes after the account of a miraculous catch of fish… `Master, at your word I will let down the nets’… And then came the conferral of his mission: `Do not be afraid… Put out into the deep sea of history and … let down the nets, so as to win men and women over to the Gospel – to God, to Christ, to true life.”
J. Ratzinger, “Mind, Spirit and Love: A Meditation on Pentecost,” Dogma and Preaching, Franciscan Herald Press (1985) 69-70.
23) Ibid., 353-355.
24) J. Ratzinger/Messori, The Ratzinger Report, Ignatius (1985) 40.
25) Induction of Josef Ratzinger into the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences of the Institute of France , November. 6, 1992: L’OR N. 6 – 10 February 1993 p. 15.
26) J. Ratzinger, Church, Ecumenism and Politics Crossroad (1988) 218.
Rev. Robert A. Connor