Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Michael Waldstein's "Introduction" to John Paul II's Archives on "The Theology of the Body" (TOB)

The "Spousal" as Gaudium et Spes # 24: “Man… Finds Himself by the Sincere Gift of Himself”

Connection between Benedict’s “Deus Charitas Est” and TOB:

Waldstein says: “TOB is at its core an attempt to read precisely this language (“God is Love”) in the spousal mystery (Eph 5).

`This mystery is great; I say this with reference to Christ and the Church’ (Eph 5, 32). In the overall context of Ephesians and further in the wider context of the words of Sacred Scripture, which reveal God’s salvific plan “from the beginning,” one can see that here the term “Mysterion” signifies the mystery first hidden in God’s mind and later revealed din man’s history. Given its importance, the mystery is “great” indeed: as God’s salvific plan for humanity, that mystery is in some sense the central theme of the whole of revelation, its central reality. It is what God as Creator and Father wishes above all to transmit to mankind in his Word. (TOB 93:2)

“Of all the works of John Paul II, TOB is the most direct, profound, and extensive analysis of ‘what God… wishes above all to transmit to human beings in his Word..’ Just as TOB is the catechesis among John Paul II’s catecheses, so it is the reading of the divine meaning of Scripture among all his readings. The encyclical Dominum et Vivificantem on the Holy Spirit comes perhaps closest to TOB since it contains an extensive meditation on the Gospel of John, particularly on the mystery that ‘God is love.’

“In his intimate life, God ‘is love,’ the essential love shared by the three divine Persons: personal love is the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of the Father and the Son. Therefore he ‘searches even the depths of God,’ as uncreated Love-Gift. It can be said that in the Holy Spirit the intimate life of the Triune God becomes totally gift, an exchange of mutual love between the divine Persons and that through the Holy Spirit, God exists in the mode of gift. It is the Holy Sprit who is the personal expression of this self-giving, of this being-love. He is Person-Love. He is Person-Gift. Here we have an inexhaustible treasure of the reality and an inexpressible deepening of the concept of person in God, which only divine revelation makes known to us. (Dominum et Vivificantem, 10)

“This Trinitarian core of John Paul II’s vision can be traced back to Karol Wojtyla’s encounter as a young man with the poetry and theology of St. John of the Cross."

2. Wojtyla’s Carmelite Personalism

a. Gaudium et Spes, 24:3, and the Sanjuanist Triangle

Pascal Ide has traced Gaudium et Spes, 24:3, through John Paul II’s vast literary output and shown that it plays a key role in the comprehensive theology of gift developed by John Paul II, particularly Man and Woman He Created Them. This passage from Gaudium et Spes reads: ‘Indeed, the Lord Jesus, when he prays to the Father, that all may be one… as we are one’ (Jn. 17:21-22) and thus offers vistas closed to human reason, indicates a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons and the union of God’s sons in truth and love. This likeness shows that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self; cf. Lk 17:33” (24:3). Two fundamental principles are contained in the last sentence of this text. First, God wills human beings for their own sake, for their good. Persons should thus not be used as mere means.
[Me: This is the most profound formulation of human freedom. Freedom does not primarily nor predominantly mean “choice.” It means, as in this formulation, self-mastery. We cannot master ourselves if we have not first been loved [which means “Grace” {that is divine Love}]. Wojtyla calls this principle ‘the personalistic norm.’ Second, persons can only find themselves in a sincere gift of self.

The Triangle (Sic)

(1) To love is to give oneself (lower left of triangle); (2) The spousal love of man and woman is the paradigmatic case of a total gift of self in our experience (Lower right of triangle); (3) The Trinity is the exemplar of love and gift (apex of the Triangle). (The blog would not take the triangle diagram )

“The first point on this triangle is a general account of love as a gift of self. From this point, one line extends horizontally to the thesis that the gift of self is present with particular completeness in the spousal love between man and woman. Another line extends upward diagonally, to the analogous application of the same account of love to the Trinity. Love and Gift take place in complete fullness in the begetting of the Son and the procession of the Sprit (See Dominum et Vivificantem, 10, just qute above). The descending line from point three to point two represents the thesis that communion between created persons, particularly the communion of spousal love between man and woman, flows as an image from God’s own Trinitarian communion.
Gaudium et Spes, 24:3, expanded in this way by a characteristic triangle, constitutes the very core of Wojtyla/John Paul II’s philosophical and theological personalism. Wojtyla first encountered this personalism in the works of St. John of the Cross. The later encounter with the personalism of Kant and the very different personalism of Scheler enriched this Carmelite point of departure, but left its fundamental structure intact. The fundamental structure of Kant’s personalism, and of Scheler’s as well, is different. Wojtyla adopted neither the one nor the other.

b. Wojtyla’s Encounter with St. John of the Cross:
“In 1941, one year a before he entered the underground seminary of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla, twenty-one years old, and a student of Polish literature, had a profound encounter with St. John of the Cross. The Gestapo played an instrumental and, in retrospect, historic role in bringing about this encounter. Hitler stripped Polish parishes of most of their priests in order to break the backbone of Polish religious and intellectual resistance. Consequently, Wojtyla came under the spiritual guidance of a layman, Jan Tyranowski, who introduced him to St. John of the Cross.”[1]

Wojtyla’s Personal Account of Jan Tyranowski

“But was it really necessary to accept Jan himself before accepting what he brought to us? Jan simply proclaimed the truth about the full supernatural life of man, which is but the fulfillment of the riches of our Faith. These truths were well known from catechism, from books, from sermons. Did Jan really proclaim anything new? This is the very thing that Jan did not proclaim, did not teach, officially. Jan merely harvested souls, in the full meaning of that term. He wanted these souls to accept the truths of religion anew, but not as prohibitions and limitations. He wanted to elicits from the supernatural resources which he knew existed within all souls, the real form of the supernatural life of man; a life that, through the grace of God, becomes participation in the life of God.

“That was the difficulty of his endeavor. Imagine, if you will, these young people who judged Jan quite skeptically, who carried within them an inflated concept of their own self-sufficiency and arrogance typical of their age. And each one of them asked: what does this man want of me? What is it that he finds lacking in me? For it became apparent very quickly that Jan was demanding something of them, of their lives, their convictions, their emotions, their attitudes. At first it was not easy to determine what it was that he demanded. The truth about the new, fuller interior life, a truth which Jan already possessed, was totally unknown to them. This was not a question of a lecture, of learning some new facts, but of reforming one’s life and attitudes – a life which, until now, seemed quite good, virtually perfect, inviolable, impervious to all external influences, especially the influence of some overly pious old man. Each of us tenaciously challenged the truth of Jan’s words and was reluctant to overcome his reservations, whether they sprang from reason, emotions or other sources. It was a long-lasting effort in which the processes of Grace were activated in young souls and fulfilled through contact with the interior life of this good, simple man. His inner life was like an anchor beyond his words; it explained his actions, it drew us to him despite all of our reservations and resistance. His words often offended us, not because they were inappropriate, but because they were so unoriginal, because our self-esteem was hurt by the realization of the gulf separating his inner life from ours. He showed us God much more immediately than any sermons or books; he proved to us that God could not only be studied, but also lived. But, above all, he surprised us with facts. Undoubtedly, there is a great difference between what is proclaimed by an apostle and what is proclaimed by anyone else. First of all, there is a difference in the attitude and capabilities of the listener. The apostle must be – and is – concerned with at least an incipient change in the listener. And this change is not a consequence of reasoned arguments, but the result of a Grace that transcends mere words. And how much harder is it to convince where the desired result is not only the acceptance of truth, but also the change of one’s ego, the transcendence of the self.

“That is what was special about Jan, something that made you feel that this man transcended the processes of grace. I repeat: he surprised us with the accomplished fact. Despite all the resistance, reservations and prejudice against his words, the way he expressed himself, or the thoughts that he wrote down about the interior life (which in reality consisted in copying passages from books on spirituality), there arose a certain necessity t to give in to his internal truth and to imitate the life which he himself lived and to which he was the apostle….
“The main element of his interior life, however, was contemplation. For him, this did not mean a reasoned analysis of God’s truths, a pure thought exercise. His aim was to become enamored of the subject under contemplation, he sought not a dry exercise of the mind, but a full exercising of the spirit…

“He was an apostle of God’s greatness, God’s beauty, and God’s transcendence. This he learned from his spiritual guide, St. John of the Cross. God exists within us not so we can stifle Him in the narrow confines of our human spirit; God is within us to tear us away from ourselves toward His supernatural transcendence. That was also the main goal of Jan’s strivings. In this he was the strongest, the clearest, the most convincing, the most apostolic. God is within us. Jan knew this. One could often meet him along the banks of the Wisla (Vistula River), or in his own home, explaining to some young listeners the essence of God’s virtues, the methods of mediation or the mysteries of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Theoretically these lectures were less than perfect…
“Our last experience of Jan for us was his illness and death. But first a few more details about his person.
“This man was not a fiction or a symbol, but a real living person…He lived in Krakow, in Debniki, at 15 Rozana Street. He was born in 1900 and died in March of 1947… His family was of a typical suburban middle class. His father and brother Edward died before Jan did – and his mother died even as he lay on his own deathbed. It is worth noting that Jan’s demeanor, for example the way he wore his watch, his expressions, all of the many details that reflect the social environment, were totally consistent with that environment. The entire difference was hidden within, and it was from within that all his external habits obtained their particular character. Jan guided his inner life according to the book Mistyka by Fr. Semenenko. Later, however, St. John of the Cross and ST. Theresa of the Child Jesus became his chief spiritual masters. They were not only his masters, they let him to discover himself, they explained and justified his own life.
“Jan’s death was indeed a form of self-sacrifice. Jan approached it consciously; he wished it and prayed for it…[2]

The Revealed Difference Between Love (Ερος) and Self-Gift (Αγάπη): Jn 21: 4

The encounter takes place on the shore of the Lake of Tiberias. John the Evangelist recounts the conversation between Jesus and Peter in that circumstance. There is a very significant play on words.
In Greek, the word "fileo" means the love of friendship, tender but not all-encompassing; instead, the word "agapao" means love without reserve, total and unconditional. Jesus asks Peter the first time: "Simon... do you love me (agapas-me)" with this total and unconditional love (Jn 21: 15)?
Prior to the experience of betrayal, the Apostle certainly would have said: "I love you (agapo-se) unconditionally". Now that he has known the bitter sadness of infidelity, the drama of his own weakness, he says with humility: "Lord; you know that I love you (filo-se)", that is, "I love you with my poor human love". Christ insists: "Simon, do you love me with this total love that I want?". And Peter repeats the response of his humble human love: "Kyrie, filo-se", "Lord, I love you as I am able to love you". The third time Jesus only says to Simon: "Fileis-me?", "Do you love me?".
Simon understands that his poor love is enough for Jesus, it is the only one of which he is capable, nonetheless he is grieved that the Lord spoke to him in this way. He thus replies: "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you (filo-se)".
This is to say that Jesus has put himself on the level of Peter, rather than Peter on Jesus' level! It is exactly this divine conformity that gives hope to the Disciple, who experienced the pain of infidelity.
From here is born the trust that makes him able to follow [Christ] to the end: "This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God. And after this he said to him, "Follow me'" (Jn 21: 19).
From that day, Peter "followed" the Master with the precise awareness of his own fragility; but this understanding did not discourage him. Indeed, he knew that he could count on the presence of the Risen One beside him.
From the naïve enthusiasm of initial acceptance, passing though the sorrowful experience of denial and the weeping of conversion, Peter succeeded in entrusting himself to that Jesus who adapted himself to his poor capacity of love. And in this way he shows us the way, notwithstanding all of our weakness. We know that Jesus adapts himself to this weakness of ours.
We follow him with our poor capacity to love and we know that Jesus is good and he accepts us.
It was a long journey for Peter that made him a trustworthy witness, "rock" of the Church, because he was constantly open to the action of the Spirit of Jesus. Peter qualifies himself as a "witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed" (I Pt 5: 1). When he was to write these words he would already be elderly, heading towards the end of his life that will be sealed with martyrdom. He will then be ready to describe true joy and to indicate where it can be drawn from: the source is believing in and loving Christ with our weak but sincere faith, notwithstanding our fragility.
He would therefore write to the Christians of his community, and says also to us: "Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls" (I Pt 1: 8-9).[3]

[1] John Paul II, “Man and Woman He Created Them, A Theology of the Body” Translation, Introduction, and Index by Michael Waldstein, Pauline Books and Media (2006) 22-24.
[2] Adam Boniecki, MIC, “The Making of the Pope of the Millennium, Kalendarium of the Life of Karol Wojtyla,” Marian Press, Stockbridge, Mass (2000) 66-70.
[3] Benedict XVI General Audience, Wednesday, 24, May 2006.

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