Monday, February 22, 2010

The Chair of St. Peter - 2010

Opus Dei has no doctrine of its own. The only agreement among its faithful is faith and morality as experienced in the Church and taught by the Magisterium of same. We believe what the Church believes. We deny what the Church denies. In all the rest, we exercise the freedom of consciences that is grounded in “the ontological tendency within man, who is created in the likeness of God, toward the divine.”[1]

Spreading this doctrine of the Church, passing on the teachings of the Pope to the people with whom we deal each day, constitutes one of the most beloved apostolates of Opus Dei. The sole purpose of the Prelature is to serve the Roman Pontiff and our Holy Mother, the Church, which, in a magnificent outpouring of love, is scattering the seed of the Gospel throughout th e world; from Rome to the outposts of the earth. As you help in this work o f expansion throughout the world, bring those in the outposts to the Pope, so that on the earth there may be one flock and one Shepherd: one apostolate.

Highly significant is the remark of Albert Einstein made when developing his theory of relativity, that “no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” The Church has gone through a development of doctrine in the Second Vatican Council which it qualified as “pastoral.” “Pastoral” does not mean non-doctrinal, but rather doctrinal as experiential of the ontological self transcending itself. Wojtyla called it an “enrichment of faith.” This means that “the Pastors of the Church were not so much concerned to answer questions like ‘What should men believe’, ‘What is the real meaning of this or that truth of faith?’ and so on, but rather to answer the more complex question: ‘What does it mean to be a believer, a Catholic and a member of the Church?’”[2]

Ultimately, it means to be an “I,” not in the Cartesian sense of subjective consciousness, but in the sense of being an ontological “I” who, in experiencing self in the act of self transcendence such as Christian faith, becomes conscious of itself as “alter Christus.” This is the reality that becomes the progressive and developing doctrine of the Church. Revelation never changes since it is the Person of Jesus Christ, Word of the Father. But our experience of that Word as we hear it and live it, becomes more and more conscious. We reflect on it and we conceptually expand on it.

This is what is happening now. The encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” calls for “a new trajectory of thinking” that will derive from an experience of the ontological “I” as relation. This is the key to social and economic development. The only approach to such reality as the “I” in relation - i.e., “being more” - is phenomenology that then becomes, on reflection, conceptual. In order to be faithful, we must be supple and available to hear and live this word of God as expounded by the Magisterium. The opposite would be a rigid conservatism that would be our own doctrine that is out of tune with the true reality of the Word. It would be unfaithful.

The oft-repeated aspiration of St. Josemaria Escriva that fits the feast is “Omnes cum Petro ad Iesum per Mariam (All with Peter to Jesus through Mary).

A word from Abraham Lincoln would fit here: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country… Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation” (Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862).

[1] J. Ratzinger, “Conscience and Truth,” Ignatius (2007) 32.

[2] K. Wojtyla, “Sources of Renewal” Harper and Row (111979) 17.

No comments: