Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Formation of Persons by Affirmation

The absolute center to the mystery of the astonishing experiences is the creation of the human person in the image and likeness of the divine Persons Who are relations as Father, and Spirit. They are not “substances” as individuals, but pure acts of “being-for” the other.

Ratzinger: “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… 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.’ Therein lies concealed a revolution in man’s view of the world: the undivided sway of thinking in terms 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.”[1]

Anthropology Derives From Trinity: Gaudium et Spes #24: “Indeed, the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, "that all may be one. . . as we are one" (John 17:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason, for He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God's sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.”

Derivatives: 1) Social Doctrine: The center of world culture is the human person working whose prototype is Jesus Christ. Gift of self is solidarity and the social dimension of man. Finding self is subsidiarity and private property. Capitalism and Socialism are ideological abstractions that are grave evils when separated from the real existing person revealed in Jesus Christ.
2) Sex: Love making is intrinsically connected life giving both in the spouses themselves and openness to the child. “That teaching, often set forth by the Magisterium, is founded upon the inseparable connection, willed by God and unable to be broken by man on his own initiative, between the two meanings of the conjugal act: the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning” (Humanae Vitae #12). John Paul II write (1959): “Betrothed love differs from all the aspects of forms of love analyzed hitherto. Its decisive character is the giving of one’s own person (to another). The essence of betrothed love is self-giving, the surrender of one’s ‘I.’ This something different from and more than attraction, desire or even goodwill. These are always by which one person goes out towards another, but none of them can take him as far in his quest for the good of the other as does betrothed love. ‘To give oneself to another’ is something more than merely ‘desiring what is good’ for another.. Betrothed love is something different from and more than all the forms of love so far analyzed, both as it affects the individual subject, the person who loves, and as regards the interpersonal union which it creates. When betrothed love enters into this interpersonal relationship something more than friendship results: two people give themselves each to the other.”

The Notion of the “Good”: If only God is “good,” then we can experience and know the “good” only in the experience of ourselves in the act of imaging God as being related to (the Logos) and relating to others by making the gift of ourselves.

Ratzinger: “The root of man’s joy is the harmony he enjoys with himself. He lives in this affirmation. And only one who can accept himself can also accept the thou, can accept the world. The reason why an individual cannot accept the thou, cannot come to terms with him, is that he does not like his own I and, for that reason, cannot accept a thou.

“Something strange happens here. We have seen that the inability to accept one’s I leads to the inability to accept a thou. But how does one go about affirming, assenting to, one’s I? The answer may perhaps be unexpected: We cannot do so by our own efforts alone. Of ourselves, we cannot come to terms with ourselves. Our I becomes acceptable to us only if it has first become acceptable to another I. We can love ourselves only if we have first been loved by someone else. The life a mother gives to her child is not just physical life, she gives total life when she takes the child’s tears and turns them into smiles. It is only when life has been accepted and is perceived as accepted that it becomes acceptable. Man is that strange creature that needs not just physical birth but also appreciation if he is to subsist. This is the root of the phenomenon known as hospitalism. When the initial harmony of our existence has been rejected, when that psycho-physical oneness ahs been ruptured by which the ‘Yes, it is good that you are alive’ sinks, with life itself, deep into the core of the unconscious – then birth itself is interrupted; existence itself is not completely established…. (T)he charism of revolution has been for a long time not just remonstrance against reparable injustices but protestation against existence itself, which has not experienced its acceptance and hence does not know that it is acceptable. If an individual is to accept himself, someone must say to him: ‘It is good that you exist’ – must say it, not with words, but with that act of the entire being that we call love. For it is the way of love to will the other’s existence and, at the same time, to bring that existence forth again. The key to the I lies with the thou; the way to the thou leads through the I.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

Joseph Pieper (Sociologically): In Sartre’s experience, “every human being is in principle alien to every other, who by looking at him threatens to steal the world from him; everyone is a danger to everyone else’s existence, a potential executioner. But fortunately, the creative artist in Sartre, or simply the brilliant observer and describer of human reality, repeatedly rises up against merely intellectual theses. And the artist in him, altogether unconcerned about his own ‘philosophy,’ will then say things like this: ‘This is the basis for the joy of love…: we feel that our existence is justified.’ As may be seen, that is not so very far from the above-mentioned notions of ‘giving existence’ and ‘conferring the right to exist.’ Here, however, the matter is seen not from the lover’s point of view, but from that of the beloved. Obviously, then, it does not suffice us simply to exist; we can do that ‘anyhow.’ What matters to us, beyond mere existence, is the explicit confirmation: It is good that you exist; how wonderful that you are! In other words, what we need over and above sheer existence is: to be loved by another person. That is an astonishing fact when we consider it closely. Being created by God actually does not suffice, it would seem; the fact of creation needs continuation and perfection by the creative power of human love.

“But this seemingly astonishing fact is repeatedly confirmed [Sociologically] by the most palpable experience, of the kind that everyone has day after day. We say that a person ‘blossoms’ when undergoing the experience of being loved; that he becomes wholly himself for the first time; that a ‘new life’ is beginning for him – and so forth. For a child, and to all appearances even for the still unborn child, being loved by the mother is literally the precondition of its own thriving. This material love need not necessarily be ‘materialized’ in specific acts of beneficence. What is at any rate more decisive is that concern and approval which are given from the very core of existence – we need not hesitate to say, which come from the heart – and which are directed toward the core of existence, the heart, of the child. Only such concern and approval do we call real ‘love.’ The observations of Rene Spitz have become fairly well known. He studied children born in prison and brought up in scarcely comfortable outward conditions by their imprisoned mother. These he compared with other children raised without their mothers, but in well-equipped, hygienically impeccable American infants’ and children’s homes by excellently trained nurses. The result of the comparison is scarcely surprising: in regard to illness, morality and susceptibility to neuroses, the children raised in prison were far better off. Not that the nurses had performed their tasks in a merely routine matter and with ‘cold objectivity.’ But it is simply not enough to able to eat to satiation, not to freeze, to have a roof overhead and everything else that is essential to life. The institutionalized children had all such needs satisfied. They received plenty of ‘milk;’ what was lacking was – the ‘honey.’”

Psychological Confirmation:

Conrad Baars, M.D.: Emotional Deprivation Disorder: Characteristics: “feelings of inferiority and inadequacy, inability to establish normal rapport with one’s peers and form lasting friendships, feelings of loneliness and insecurity, doubts about one’s self-worth and identity, fear oafs the adult world, and often deep depressions. Although the energetic among them are able to succeed in business or profession, they fail in their personal lives. If married, they find it impossible to relate in a spontaneous and emotionally satisfying way with spouse and children. In matters of faith, dullness prevails as their feelings cannot participate in their spiritual life. Their religious experience is neither ‘a burden that is light,’ nor ‘a yoke that is sweet.’ Their psychosexual immaturity may express itself in various ways, for instance, in masturbation, pornography, homosexuality, sexual impotence or frigidity…

Cause of EDD: an inadequate feeling of self-worth. And this is the key to it all: “The source of the feeling of self-worth is always another person – the ‘significant other’ – who can either give or withhold it. The process whereby a person receives his or her feeling of self-worth from the ‘significant other’ is for every human being a bonum fundamentale. In a very special relationship with the significant other, the person is seen and experienced by the other as good, worthwhile and lovable. The pleasure of the approving and loving other is perceived in such a manner that the person literally feels this through his or her entire being.[5][6]

Persons Related to by Affirmation: “can be said to have received the gift of themselves. They feel worthwhile, significant and lovable. They possess themselves as man or woman. They know who they are. They are certain of their identity. They love themselves unselfishly. They are open to all that is good and find joy in the same. They are able to affirm all of creation, and as affirmers of all beings are capable o f making others happy and joyful, too. They are largely other-directed. They find joy in being and doing for others. The find joy in their love relationship with their Creator. They can share and give of themselves, be a true friend to others, and feel at ease with persons of both sexes. They are capable of finding happiness in marinate of the freely chosen celibate state of life. They are free from psycho-pathological factors which hamper one’s free will and are therefore sully responsible – morally and legally – for their actions.”[7]

Unaffirmed Persons: “can be said to have been born only once; their second or psychological birth never took place (or, since it is a protracted process, was never complete). They were not made to know and feel their own goodness, worth and identity. They have been thrown back upon themselves by denial on the part of significant others in their life. They are like prisoners – locked in, lonely, and self-centered – waiting fort someone to come and open the door of their prison, waiting to be opened to their own goodness and that of others. No measure of success in business, profession or otherwise can adequately compensate for their feelings of inferiority, inadequacy, uncertainty and insecurity. Both the married life and the celibate life accentuate the fundamental loneliness of these persons and their inability to relate to others as equals. Their spiritual life suffers as time goes on, and their basically joyless way of life changes more and more to a state of depression until death seems the only way out.

“Most importantly, unaffirmed persons have only one concern and need: to become affirmed, to be loved for who they are and not for what they do. They are literally driven to find someone who truly, unequivocally loves them. This is in marked contrast to affirmed individuals who look for someone with whom they can share their love, who can give love as well as receive, who can wait and are not hurried, driven, or compelled to find someone who will love them. If affirmation by a significant other is not forthcoming, many unaffirmed persons wells use their talents, intelligence and energy to try to convince themselves and the world in a variety of ways that they are worthwhile, important and significant, even though they don’t feel that they are. The most common ways of doing this are by the acquisition, display and use of material goods, wealth, power, fame, honor, status symbols, or sex.”

Homosexuality: “Not Born That Way,” and “Same-Sex Attraction Is Preventable” See handout “Homosexuality and Hope: Statement of the Catholic Medical Association” November 2000. Also Fr. John Harvey, “Homosexuality and the Catholic Church” (Ascension Press) 2007.

Karol Wojtyla: does the philosophy of this. He says: “I maintain that morality as a value has objective meaning in and through the human being and that there is no way to apprehend this meaning apart from the categories of being and becoming: esse and fieri [Ratzinger’s ontological tendency that produces the consciousness that that particular action is “good” or “evil”]. In other words, moral good is that through which the human being as a human being becomes and is good, and moral evil that through which the human being as a human being becomes and is evil. This becoming (fieri) resides in the dynamism of human action (actus humanus); it cannot be properly objectified on the basis of consciousness alone, but only on the basis of the human being as a conscious being. It follows, too, that good or evil as a property of a conscious being is itself also a being and not just a content of consciousness. This does not, however, obscure the fact that it – good or evil – is, at the same time, a content of consciousness that it is given in lived experience as a specific value, namely, moral value. Proceeding from the two different orientations in philosophy, it seems that we can arrive in the theory of morality at a complementary view of this same reality. Moral value points directly to that through which the human being as a human being is good or evil.”[9]

Our First Parents: Adam is made in the image and likeness of the “We” of God (“Let us make man in our image and after our likeness” (Gen 1, 26). The Creator loves Adam by giving him the command to subdue the earth that included naming the animals. After naming the animals, Adam experienced being “alone.” He had activated his “I” as a subject and was, indeed, alone as a subject. The Creator said, “It is not good for man to be alone,” recreated them as male and female and they entered into a relation of self-gift. This was the first act of imaging God as “we:” “We can deduce that man became the ‘image and likeness’ of God not only through his own humanity [possessing intellect and will], but also through the communion of persons which man and woman form right from the beginning. The function of the image is to reflect the one who is the model, to reproduce its own prototype. Man becomes the image of God not so much in the moment of solitude as in the moment of communion. Right ‘from the beginning,’ he is not only an image in which the solitude of a Person who rules the world is reflected, but also and essentially, an image of an inscrutable divine communion of person;”
(“The Theology of the Body,” November 14, 1979).

Present Day Equivalent: Helen Keller:

“One day, while I was playing with my new doll, Miss Sullivan put my big rag doll into my lap also, spelled "d-o-l-l" and tried to make me understand that "d-o-l-l" applied to both. Earlier in the day we had had a tussle over the words "m-u-g" and "w-a-t-e-r."

“Miss Sullivan had tried to impress it upon me that "m-u-g" is mug and that "w-a-t-e-r" is water, but I persisted in confounding the two. In despair she had dropped the subject for the time, only to renew it at the first opportunity. I became impatient at her repeated attempts and, seizing the new doll, I dashed it upon the floor. I was keenly delighted when I felt the fragments of the broken doll at my feet. Neither sorrow nor regret followed my passionate outburst. I had not loved the doll. In the still, dark world in which I lived there was no strong sentiment or tenderness. I felt my teacher sweep the fragments to one side of the hearth, and I had a sense of satisfaction that the cause of my discomfort was removed. She brought me my hat, and I knew I was going out into the warm sunshine. This thought, if a wordless sensation may be called a thought, made me hop and skip with pleasure.

“We walked down the path to the well-house, attracted by the fragrance of the honeysuckle with which it was covered. Some one was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly, then rapidly. I stood still,my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten--a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that "w-a-t-e-r"meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free! There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that could in time be swept away.

“I left the well-house eager to learn. Everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought. As we returned to the house every object which I touched seemed to quiver with life. That was because I saw everything with the strange, new sight that had come to me. On entering the door I remembered the doll I had broken. I felt my way to the hearth and picked up the pieces. I tried vainly to put them together. Then my eyes filled with tears; for I realized what I had done, and for the first time I felt repentance and sorrow.”

Richard Rohr: “Naming the ‘Father Hunger:’” “…men have lost the ability to pass on the wisdom and experience of their life and who they are. All they know how to do is pass on roles, money and opinions, but not who they are. I would see that as the single greatest lack of power, dysfunction and disability in civilization today…. By ‘father hunger’ I mean the profound, but usually unconscious longing for affirmation and limits from male authority figures. The most common words people use to describe their relationships with their fathers are ‘absence,’ ‘sadness’ and ‘I don’t know him.’ Men have not been given the permission on the skills to pass on who they are to their children. We often know what makes Fathers angry, but not the deep desires and dreams of their hearts, much less their loneliness and hurt. That vacuum creates a similar emptiness in the hearts of sons and daughters. Dad is an unnamable mystery, which only calls forth fear, doubt and sometimes endless rebellion…. I do believe that father hunger is at least intrinsically involved in such diverse phenomena as military and athletic bonding, prostitution and addiction to success and power, some expressions of homosexuality, gangs and male aggression, many women’s acquiescence to sexism, and the practice today in otherwise intelligent groups of ‘killing the leader’…Men need to realize – and this is going to sound very old-fashioned – that striving for sex, prestige and possessions is, in most cases, a refusal to walk the spiritual journey. Instead of competing within themselves for wholeness and authenticity, men have allowed their souls to be projected outward in terms of their preoccupation with getting a woman and getting money, which is a source of power. Men think ‘If only I can obtain them, then I’m going to be happy.’ Men need to be told that is utterly false. They have to be convinced that this obsession with money, sex and power is going to get them nowhere in terms of the spiritual life…. Males have been excluded and we have excluded ourselves from the most important things of all: family, spirituality, emotions and feelings, personal growth and the soul. We have been cut off from the very things for which humanity was created. Women should affirm us for the right reasons, and challenge us for the right reasons.”[10]

St. Josemaria Escriva, “Father:” “Genuit filios and filias.” His mission is to engender sons and daughters as laity and priests to make the gift of self forming a communio personarum. That “communio” must be the unum of the communio priests serving laity and laity affirming priests that is the “little bit of the Church” that Opus Dei is. Without his love, and that of all the Prelates, the gift of self would not be able to take place.

John Paul II: - affirms and engenders life into priests by going to confession to them. One case is the beggar priest in Rome brought in to dinner with the Pope. After going to confession to him kneeling at the dinner table, he announced that he would be the assistant pastor in one of the churches in Rome. The other is in Krakow: “Wojtyla disciplined young priests in a distinctive way. He once had to call in an assistant pastor who had committed what the priest later recalled as a “serious misdemeanor.” In a lengthy session in his office, Wojtyla told the curate in no uncertain terms about the gravity of the offense and reprimanded him severely. The cardinal then led the young priest into his chapel so they could pray. The older man knelt so long that the curate became nervous. His train was scheduled to leave shortly to take him back to his parish. Finally, Cardinal Wojtyla stood up, looked at the young man he had just chastised, and said, ‘Would you please hear my confession now?’ Stunned, the assistant pastor went to the confessional, where Wojtyla confessed before him.”[11]

Redemption: “Before his conversion, Paul had not been a man distant from God and from his Law. On the contrary, he had been observant, with an observance faithful to the point of fanaticism. In the light of the encounter with Christ, however, he understood that with this he had sought to build up himself and his own justice, and that with all this justice he had lived for himself.

He realized that a new approach in his life was absolutely essential. And we find this new approach expressed in his words: "The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2: 20).

Paul, therefore, no longer lives for himself, for his own justice. He lives for Christ and with Christ: in giving of himself, he is no longer seeking and building himself up. This is the new justice, the new orientation given to us by the Lord, given to us by faith.

Before the Cross of Christ, the extreme expression of his self-giving, there is no one who can boast of himself, of his own self-made justice, made for himself! Elsewhere, re-echoing Jeremiah, Paul explains this thought, writing, "Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord" (I Cor 1: 31 = Jer 9: 23-24ff.); or: "Far be it from me to glory except in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Gal 6: 14).”[12]

* * * * * * * * * *
The Narcissism of the Cell Phone
Out with the out crowd

The potential problem with connected presence is that it usually excludes other people who may be physically present. In situations that might once have been an opportunity to talk to a stranger—waiting for a bus or boarding an aeroplane, say—people now fill the time with a few messages to parents, lovers or friends. This strengthens the strong ties, but weakens, or even cuts, the weak ties in society. In some cases, says Mr Ling, it leads to “bounded solidarity”, when cliques become so turned in on themselves that they all but stop interacting with the wider society around them.

The first casualty is usually etiquette. Noise pollution is only one kind of violation. In an American survey conducted in 2005, 62% of the people polled—and 74% of those over 60—felt that “using a cell phone in public is a major irritation for other people,” but only 32% of those between 18 and 27 shared that opinion. That divergence makes for a combustible social cocktail whenever the generations mix. It is routine nowadays for people to answer calls in cinemas, restaurants and public toilets, even at weddings and funerals. The volume of these transgressions varies with the culture—Americans and Italians, say, are louder than Swedes or Japanese. And some societies are beginning to adjust. Some countries now have “quiet cars” on trains where patrons cannot talk on their mobiles but must text instead.

Trickier etiquette problems arise when the issue is not so much noise as context. One example that will enter the history books occurred last September when Rudy Giuliani, a former mayor of New York, was still waging a vigorous campaign for the presidency. As he was up on his podium and in mid-sentence addressing the National Rifle Association (NRA), a crucial constituency for a Republican candidate, his mobile rang and, to gasps in the huge audience, he decided to answer it. What followed, captured on microphone, is worth repeating in its banality: “Hello, dear. I'm talking, I'm talking to the members of the NRA right now. Would you like to say hello? I love you, and I'll give you a call as soon as I'm finished. OK? OK, have a safe trip. Bye-bye. Talk to you later, dear. I love you.” When he hung up, the audience had turned to stone.
Usually the situation is subtler and the incongruence has more to do with attention. This can be true even during silent mobile communications. It is now routine for university students to text, e-mail and instant-message during lectures. Mr Ling, whose job includes loitering in public places for observation, watched a woman at an Oslo underground station who texted as she walked. She was wholly focused on her text message but had to look up occasionally to weave through the crowds on the platform. Other people were doing the same. It was an “atomised and individualised” scene, says Mr Ling: a new form of the proverbial lonely crowd.

But at least this particular Norwegian woman was signalling through her body language to all around her that she wanted to be left alone. The spread of “hands-free” Bluetooth devices, with hidden earplugs seemingly attached to nothing, is removing even those clues. Steve Love, a psychologist, was travelling on a train from Edinburgh to Glasgow once when a girl standing next to him started talking to him. She asked him how he was and how his day had been, and Mr Love, though a bit shy, politely told her how much he was looking forward to watching Scotland play football that evening. As he spoke, the girl looked at him in horror, then turned away. Only then did Mr Love hear her say “OK, I'll call you later.” Not a word or gesture was exchanged for the remainder of the (suddenly uncomfortable) journey.

Probably the single most common etiquette conflict occurs, as Mr Ling puts it, when mediated communication interrupts co-present communication, as when two or more people are sitting at a table in conversation or negotiation and one of them gets, and answers, a call. The other co-present people must now keep themselves busy while seeming nonchalant. What is more, they must pretend not to be eavesdropping even though they are only a few feet away from the mediated conversation, ideally by assuming a pose of concentration on some other object, such as their fingernails or their own phone. As soon as the intervening call ends, everybody must try to re-enter the co-present context as gracefully as possible.

So there is evidence that nomadism is good for in-groups, but at the expense of strangers. If that is true, Mr Granovetter would consider it bad for society. Fortunately, however, the last chapter has not yet been written. Since the outburst of pessimism about the internet among sociologists in the 1990s, the web has recently become an intensely social medium, thanks in large part to proliferating online social networks such as Facebook and MySpace. Young people have been using these websites on their PCs to keep in touch with much larger groups of people than has ever been feasible before. It is not uncommon for adolescents to add several “friends” a day to their “social graph” on Facebook or to the “buddy list” of their instant-messaging service.
As mobile devices now become, in effect, computers for accessing the wider web, these online services are also moving from stationary to mobile use. Whether that could reinvigorate the weak ties in society along with the strong ties remains to be seen. But etiquette, both online and offline, remains a work in progress.”
[The Economist, May 14, 2008]

[1] Benedict XVI “Introduction to Christianity” Ignatius (1990) 131-132.
[2] K. Wojtyla, “Love and Responsibility,” Ignatius (1990) 96.
[3] J. Ratzinger, “Principles of Catholic Theology” Ignatius (1987) 79-80.
[4] Joseph Pieper, “An Anthology,” Ignatius (1989) 30-31.
[5] Note that John Paul II, writing to Teresa Heydel, remarked: “Everyone… lives, above all, for love. The ability to love authentically, not great intellectual capacity, constitutes the deepest part of a personality. It is no accident that the greatest commandment is to love. Authentic love leads us outside ourselves to affirming others.” A month later, he wrote: “After many experiences and a lot of thinking, I am convinced that the (objective) starting point of love is the realization that I am needed by another. The person who objectively needs me most is also, for me, objectively, the person I most need. This is a fragment of life’s deep logic… The great achievement is always to see values that others don’t see and to affirm them. The even greater achievement is to bring out of people the values that would perish without us. IN the same way, we bring our values out in ourselves” (G. Weigel, “Witness to Hope” Cliffside Books [1999] 101-102].
[6] C. Baars, “I Will Give Themn a New Heart” St Pauls (2008) 12.
[7] Ibid 190.
[8] Ibid190-191.
[9] K. Wojtyla, “The Problem of the Theory of Morality,” Person and Community Land (1993) 159.
[10] St. Anthony Messenger, October 1990, pp. 15-19.
[11] G. Weigel, “Witness to Hope,” Cliffside Books, (1999) 194.
[12] Benedict XVI, General Audience, Wednesday, 8 November 2006.

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