Tuesday, October 24, 2006

October 24, The "Old" Feast of St. Raphael, Archangel

1. The young person today, as the Rich Young Man of Mark 10, 17-28 whom Jesus loved: “Jesus, looking upon him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing is lacking to thee; go, sell whatever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven’ and come, follow me.”

This is not an imposition on the freedom of a person. Rather, it is the necessary condition for freedom to be exercised. Recall from John Paul II: “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 hiss freedom.”[1]

This challenge to give all must be proposed to the young people today. It is not an imposition from outside. It is longed for from within the young person. Benedict XVI said in 1990: “The anamnesis [the "not-forgetting," the ontological tendency of being created in the image of God] 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. It has maieutic function, imposes nothing foreign, but brings to fruition what is proper to anamnesis, namely, its interior openness to the truth.”[2]

In the mind of Benedict XVI, the greatest evil of the day is the dictatorship of relativism, and the greates need is to challenge men with the absolute of the Person of Jesus Christ. As George Weigel said: "The most profoundly threatening dystopia for the future is not the brutal totalitarianism sketched in George Orwell's novel `1984,' but the mindless, soulless authoritarianism depicted in Aldous Huxley's `Brave New World,' a world of stunted humanity; a world of souls without longing, without passion, without striving, without suffering, without surprises or desires -- in a word, a world without love.'"

Recall the remarks of Benedict XVI to the communist Ernst Bloch concerning drugs and terrorism. "I ventured the hypothesis that obviously inthe Middle Ages the emptiness of the woul, which drugs are an attempt to fill, did not exist: the thirst of the soul, of te inner man, found an answer that made drugs unnecessary." He went on: "Drugs are the result of despair in a world experienced as a dungeon of facts, in which man cannot hold out for long... (T)he core is a protest against a reality perceived as a prison. The `great journey' that men attempt in drugs is the perversion of mysticism, the perversion of the human need for infinity, the rejection of the impossibility of transcending immanence, and the attempt to extend the limits of one's own existence into the infinite. The patient and humble adventure of asceticism, which, in small steps of ascent, comes closer to the descending God, is replaced by magical power, the magical key of drugs - the ethical and relgious path is replaced by technology. Drugs are the pseudo-mysticism of a world that does not believe yet cannot get rid of the soul's yearning for paradise. Thus, drugs are a warning sign that points to [something] very profound: not only do they disclose a vacuum in our society, which that society's own instruments cannot fill, but they also point to an inner claim of man's nature, a claim that asserts itself in a perverted form if it does not find the correct answer."

Concerning terrorism, Benedict said: "Terrorism's point of departure is closely related to that of drugs: here, too, we find at the outset a protest against the world as it is and the desire for a better world. On the basis of its roots, terrorism is a moralism, albeit a misdirected one that becomes the brutal parody of the true aims and paths of morality... Terrorism was at first a religious enthusiasm that had been redirected into the earthly realm, a messianic expectation transposed into political fanaticism. [Notice: There is "faith" but no reason; hence Regensgurg]. Faith in life after death had broken down, or at least had become irrelevant, but the criterion of heavenly expectation was not abandoned: rather, it was now applied to the present world... `God has no other arms but ours'... this now meant that the fulfillment of these promises can and must be carried out by ourselves. Disgust at the intellectual and spiritual emptiness of our society, yearning for what is completely different, the claim to unconditional salvation without restrictions and without limits - this is, so to speak, the religious component in the phenomenon of terrorism, which gives it the impetus of a passion focused on a totality, its uncompromising characer and the claim to be idealisitic. All this becomes so dangerous because of the decisively earthly character of the messianic hope: something unconditional is demanded of what is conditional, something infinite is demanded of what is finite. This inherent contradiciton indicates the real tragedy of this phenomenon in which man's great vocation becomes the instrument of the great lie" (Turning Point for Europe? Ignatius [1994] 18-22). Notice here the background for the Pope's remarks on the need for the recovery of reason by both West and East for dialogue.

2. The call and challenge must go out. Alvaro del Portillo, the first successor to St. Josemaria Escriva, said in 1988:

“While taking care of persons from all kinds of different backgrounds in the early decades of the history of Opus Dei, Escriva put special sacrifice and effort into the formation of so many young men and women. In doing so, he inaugurated an apostolic venture of first importance, which all of us in the Prelature should see as the apple of our eye:” St. Raphael Work.

Elsewhere, Escriva said: “All our apostolates can be reduced to only one: the apostolate of giving doctrine.” “Only ignorance can allow a man to commit crimes and not be aware of it. We must give doctrine.” In carrying out this formative task of St. Raphael’s work we count on a great variety of apostolic means and activities. Some of these means are already traditional and have been effective for the good of souls from the beginnings of our Work: the Courses of Formation, the Catechism classes and the visits to the poor of Our Lady, the meditations, the spiritual retreats and in general the liturgical acts of piety celebrated in our halls of residence…. These means are perennial and must be used always and everywhere when we are doing the work of St. Raphael. For they are characteristic of this apostolate and give life to all the other activities which take place around this work of St. Raphael.” Notice that they are reducible to the major categories of work and friendship. Elsewhere, “There are so many activities of all kinds, so many external undertakings that should be used. They are like nets for the fishing – a divine fishing – of the souls of those who are involved in the work of St. Raphael! Among these external undertakings, of course, two of them are obligatory: the catechism classes and the visits to the poor. Then there are sporting activities, and those to do with science, literature, the cinema or whatever you like! There are trips and a hundred thousand other things. All, however, have a deep apostolic inspiration, otherwise they are useless.”

3. Finally, daring and optimism! St. Josemaria quoted St. Paul: “Omnia possum in eo qui me confortat (Phil. 4, 13). `With him there is no possibility of failure. Hence the superiority complex; hence we can take on tasks with a spirit of victory, because God grants us his strength.
An inferiority complex? Why? I see no reason for it. How can you have an inferiority complex in Opus Dei? You have to have a superiority complex! But Father, wouldn’t that be a sign of pride? No, my children! It is a consequence of humility, of a humility that makes me say: Lord, you are he who is. I am nothing. You have all the perfections: power, strength, love, glory, wisdom, dominion, honour. If I get close to you like a child in the strong arms of his father or in his mother’s wonderful lap, I will feel the warmth of your divinity, I will feel the light of your wisdom, I will feel your strength running through my veins…. I have a superiority complex because I am in God’s hands, and he is my Father, et adorabunt eum omens reges terrae; omnes gentes servient ei (Ps. 71, 9). Even Satan serves him… I have a superiority complex because potestas eius, potestas aeterna, quae non auferetur: et regnum eius, quod no corrumpetur (Dan. 7, 14).'

“Also I realize, Lord, that you can do everything. I rectify my intention. As a ship at sea corrects its course by looking at a star, so I correct my intention by looking at Mary. And I will be certain of always reaching port. I will mark the reefs and with holy shamelessness I will let them be seen, those things that are at times little snares and at other times flagrant ignorance of hateful excuses; or sometimes, manifestations of the impotence of men who cannot stand the fruitfulness which you give to the others.”

[1] John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor #85.
[2] Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, “Conscience and Truth,” Proceedings of the Tenth Bishops’ Workshop, Dallas, Texas, The Pope John Center (1991) 21.

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