Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Epistemology of the "New Evangelization"

By "New Evangelization" I mean the experience of Jesus Christ, God-Man as Prayer and Generosity

 Faith and Reason


Reason Needs Faith

The Person, Experiencing Self Transcending Self, Perceives Reality More Broadly: “Sanely”[1] (which means that without the ontological expansion of the self by the enactment of faith, reason as reason is truncated and diminished)

Israel always believed in the Creator God (but) (t)he moment when creation became a dominant theme occurred during the Babylonian Exile. It was then that the account… based, to be sure, on very ancient traditions- assumed its present form. Israel had lost its land and its temple. According to the mentality of the time this was something incomprehensible, for it meant that the God of Israel was vanquished – a God whose people, whose land, and whose worshipers could be snatched away from him. A God who could not defend his worshipers and his worship was seen to be, at the time, a weak God. Indeed, he was not God at all; he had abandoned his divinity. And so, being driven out of their own land and being erased from the map was for Israel a terrible trial: Has our God been vanquished, and is our faith void?

            “At this moment the prophets opened a new page and taught Israel that it was only then that the true face of God appeared and that he was not restricted to that particular piece of land. He had never been: He had promised this piece of land to Abraham before he settled there, and he had been able to bring his people out of Egypt. He could do both things because he was not the God of one place but had power over heaven and earth. Therefore he could drive his faithless people into another land in order to make himself known there. And so it came to be understood that this God of Israel was not a God like the other gods, but that he was the God who held sway over every land and people. He could do this, however, because he himself had created everything in heaven and earth. It was in exile and in seeming defeat of Israel that there occurred an opening to the awareness of God who holds every people and all of history in his hands, who holds everything because he is the creator of everything and the source of all power.”[2]

There is a great intellectual step here, a switch of mental horizons: The pagan gods were always contained within the world of sensation because they were the explanation and causes of the events in the world. And this even if they could not be sensed such as Plato’s One and Aristotle’s First Unmoved Mover. 

The non-Christian thought of the pagans consisted in a one to one correspondence of sensible perception and deity. The pagan deities were “the most powerful, most independent and self-sufficient, most unchanging beings in the world.”[3] And that is the point. They are within the context of the world of sensible being. “They are the expression of necessities that men encounter in the world, necessities that men must respect. Zeus, Poseidon, Ares and Aphrodite, the Muses, and Apollo are agents that rule over their particular domains, and they are the causes, the ones responsible, of what happens.”[4] The first Unmoved Mover of Aristotle and the One of Plato are the most supreme realities, but they are supremely in the world and belong to it. Their meaning is within the context of the sensible world even though they are not visible.

But there is dramatic epistemological shift with the introduction of the revelation of the Judeo-Christian God as Creator of the world. The upshot of such information is that God would be Who He is even if the world did not existThe Being of God is so different from the being of the world that if the world were not, God would still be God. To access such a God, one must become self-transcendent (going out of self), which is a change in anthropology and ontology. Judeo-Christian revelation goes on to state that the human person, although creature of the sensible world, has been made in the image and likeness of the Creator. Therefore, there is something in the being of the creature that is “like” the Being of the Creator. The burden, then, of such information as creation weighs on how we construe a creature to have the ontological constitution of relationality as image of the divine relations of Father, Son and Spirit.  Notice that so different are these two noetic orders that if the created order were removed, the Creator would still be. The burden, then, of such information as creation, is how to know the human person as part of the created order, yet image and likeness of the Creator.
This shocked Greek reason into the development from mythical deities into cosmologies of the absolute and metaphysics of being. The cause of this intersplicing is certainly the understanding of the daily intercourse of Greek and Jewish culture during the captivity in Babylon, but also the extraordinary particularity that the Greek philosopher Pythagoras is reported to have received classes from the Jewish prophet Ezekiel.[5]

As we saw above, Ratzinger notes that there was an amazing parallel between what happened to reason for the Greeks, and reason for the Jews. As the Greeks were introduced to the Absolute God-Creator of the Jews, the Jews were introduced to the
Greek reason that was trapped in a conceptual this-worldly paganism. The intersplicing of the two may be understood more profoundly in Robert  Sokolowski’a “The God of Faith and Reason.”

Sokolowski speaks of the “Christian Distinction” which consists in “the distinction between the world understood as possibly not having existed and God understood as possibly being all that there is.”[6] This is the missing proposition in trying to understand St. Anselm’s proof of the existence of God. His explicit proposition is that God is the Being “that than which nothing greater can be thought.”[7] The implicit proposition is that God is so different from the world that we experience through the senses that if this sensible world, understood as created by God, were to cease to be, God would still be. And now that the world does exist as created by God, God is not more (so different is His Being from the being of creation). Clearly, we are dealing here with different kinds of being in God and the world.

And the way we deal with these different kinds of being is through experience. It is major to understand that it is not a mere theoretical distinction that takes place in the same epistemological horizon, but a distinction of experiences be they sensible perceptin and abstract concept, or the living experience of self-transcendence.  The gods of the pagans are an abstraction from sensible experience. The God of Abraham and Jesus Christ is a God of going out of self to receive into self. Recall that the mythical gods like Zeus, Poseidon, Ares, Aphrodite, the Muses and Apollo are particular beings in the world, the “expressions of necessities that men encounter in the world, necessities that men must respect.”[8] “Some of the gods rule over and in natural phenomena; others, the gods of the city, are involved in political events; still others are related to families,”[9] etc. They are gods within the world because they are gods within the sensible order and projections of the sensible order. They are totally and fully within the world of first order abstraction.  The God of Judeo-Christian faith is not an experience of sense perception and first order abstraction. He is a God Who must be experienced in an action of obedience.

Consider Benedict’s summary of his thesis on the meaning of Christian Revelation and Faith: “‘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.”[10] Notice that “Revelation” is a Person, and “Faith” is the reception of that Person by another person. It is an anthropological act of taking another into self and becoming that Person. The prototype of faith is the Virgin who received the Word-Person into herself to whom she gave all of His flesh and saturated Him with her life: “Blessed is she who believed.[11] “Mary’s faith can also be compared to that of Abraham, whom St. Paul calls ‘our father in faith’ (cf. Rom. 4, 12).”[12]

And so, it was here and now in the 6th century B.C. in the slavery of Babylon after their fall from a living faith, that the Abrahamic faith as living experience was recalled and written in a vital confrontation with the conquering religion of Babylon that explained the “the world assumed its form when Marduk, the god of light, appeared and split in two the body of the primordial dragon. From this sundered body heaven and earth came to be. Thus the firmament and the earth were produced from the sundered body of the dead dragon, but from its blood Marduk fashioned human beings… The world is a dragon’s body, and human beings have dragon’s blood in them. At the very origin of the world lurks something sinister, and in the deepest part of humankind there lies something rebellious demonic, and evil… (O)nly a dictator, the king of Babylon, who is the representative of Marduk, can repress the demonic and restore the world to order.”[13]

What is conveyed to the Greeks because of this emerging of Judaic faith and scripture, is God, the Creator of all things, the source of the reasonableness of Being, Who is the Absolute Reality. They did not accept creation. It would have changed their entire epistemology.  This revelation of the Absolute is precisely what the Greek mind is searching for. Philosophy thus begins with the encounter with the Transcendent God Who is Absolute, and Who is in such a different way that even if the world were to cease to be, God would continue to be in this different way. And that “way” has been revealed to be personal as the relational Father, Son and Spirit. The huge point is that it begins only within the experience and enlightenment of faith experience. And with regard to reason Benedict remarks that reason without faith cannot be reason, nor reasonable: “Reason needs revelation in order to be able to be effective as reason”.[14]


Experience is the key criterion to understand the relation of faith and reason as “two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.”(Fides et ratio: The Dedication p. 7). Evidence is something objective to us. Experience is subjective (but not subjectivist). To understand this, consider John Paul II’s “Crossing the Threshold of Hope.”[15] There he speaks of empirical knowledge of reality by sensation and comments: “The fact that human knowledge is primarily a sensory knowledge surprises no one. Neither Plato nor Aristotle nor any of the classical philosophers questioned this. Cognitive realism, both so-called naïve realism (things are what they seem to be) and critical realism (we critique that the way we know through the senses and concepts are mediate ways of knowing and therefore distortive and distorted), agrees that ‘nihil est in intellectu, quod prius non fuerit in sensu’ (‘nothing is in the intellect that was not first in the senses’). Nevertheless, the limits of these ‘senses’ are not exclusively sensory. We know, in fact, that man not only knows colors, tones, and forms; he also knows objects globally – for example, not only all the parts that comprise the object ‘man’ but also man in himself (Yes, man as a person). He knows, therefore, extrasensory truths, or, in other words, the transempirical,. In addition, it is not possible to affirm that when something is transempirical it ceases to be empirical.
“It is therefore possible to speak from a solid foundation about human experience, moral experience, or religious experience. And if it is possible to speak of such experiences, it is difficult to deny that, in the realm of human experience, one also finds good and evil, truth and beauty, and God. God Himself certainly is not an object of human sensible) empiricism; (but He is certainly an object of human experience); the Sacred Scripture, in its own way, emphasizes this: ‘No one has ever seen god” (cf. Jn. 1, 18). If God is a knowable object – as both the Book of Wisdom and the Letter to the Romans teach – He is such on the basis of man’s experience both of the visible world and of his interior world. This is the point of departure for Immanuel Kant’s study of ethical experience in which he abandons the old approach found in the writings of the Bible and of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Man recognizes himself as an ethical being, capable of acting according to criteria of good and evil, and not only those of profit and pleasure. He also recognizes himself as a religious being, capable of putting himself in contact with GodPrayer – of which we talked earlier – is in a certain sense the first verification of sch a reality...(underline mine). “And we find ourselves by now every close to Saint Thomas, but the path passes not so much through being and existence as through people and their meeting each other, through the ‘I’ and the “Thou and their meeting each other, through the ‘I’ and the “Thou.” This is a fundamental dimension of man’s existence, which is always a co-existence…Such co-existence is essential to our Judeo-Christian tradition and comes from God’s initiative. This initiative is connected with and leads to creation, and is at the same time – Saint Pal teaches – ‘the eternal election man in the Word who is the Son(cf. Eph. 1, 4)”[16]

Philosophically, Karol Wojtyla uses “experience” (not evidence) as criterion of access to reality. That reality is mediately grasped through the external senses and rendered abstract as conceptual thought, propositional knowing, syllogistic reasoning and return to the sensible reality to make a judgement as to truth. But this is an objectified way of knowing. It renders reality as object.

There is also a realistic knowledge of the self that is not only mediated by sensible perception and concepts of reason, but which is immediately experienced in the act of going out of self in faith as prayer (its first act). That experience gives us a consciousness of self as image of God. Hence it is a realistic experience of God, and it begs for philosophy to give an account of it.
John Paul II makes such an account in Fides et Ratio #83:
I want only to state that reality and truth do transcend the factual and the empirical, and to vindicate the human being's capacity to know this transcendent and metaphysical dimension in a way that is true and certain, albeit imperfect and analogical. In this sense, metaphysics should not be seen as an alternative to anthropology, since it is metaphysics which makes it possible to ground the concept of personal dignity in virtue of their spiritual nature. In a special way, the person constitutes a privileged locus for the encounter with being, and hence with metaphysical enquiry.
“Wherever men and women discover a call to the absolute and transcendent, the metaphysical dimension of reality opens up before them: in truth, in beauty, in moral values, in other persons, in being itself, in God. We face a great challenge at the end of this millennium to move from phenomenon to foundation, a step as necessary as it is urgent. We cannot stop short at experience alone; even if experience does reveal the human being's interiority and spirituality, speculative thinking must penetrate to the spiritual core and the ground from which it rises. Therefore, a philosophy which shuns metaphysics would be radically unsuited to the task of mediation in the understanding of Revelation.”
            To make this clear, Wojtyla assimilates the metaphysics of being of St. Thomas. He never wants to leave it. But he adds to it the experience of the “acting person,’ or “lived experience.” It simply was not Thomas’s time to see this for the completion of his metaphysics of esse. That is, there is an experience that the self has of itself in the act of moral freedom. The experience of responsibility, the experience of joy, the experience of love, the experience of anxiety – are all experiences of the exercise of freedom either to stay within self or to migrate out of self. Wojtyla doesn’t deny the notion of being in Aristotle and St. Thomas that is “substance,” but he adds the dimension of “lived experience” which is the dimension of the “I.” “Substance” is a metaphysic of everyman. Subject is the metaphysic of the unique and irrepeatable “I.” “In my lived experience of self-possession and self-governance, I experience that I am a person and that I am a subject.”[17] This “I” is snot consciousness but being. Consciousness is the result of the experience of the self lived in the free moral act. The “living “I” is always relational as imaging the relations that are the Father, Son and Spirit mediated to us by the humanity of Jesus Christ. Christ is the “I” of the Son Who has assumed a full humanity that He exercises His divinity through. When Christ wills humanly, it is not His human will that wills. It is His divine “I” that wills humanly. Christ is not a zero sum of humanity and divinity, but totally God and totally man in one single divine “I.” This is so because He is not a Substance but pure Relation to the Father and “for” us. He is Relation to the Father and “for” us as Relation.

            Thus, the great adventure today is to see how this incorporation of the subject as relation translates as anthropology: work, politics, economics and sexuality. To be clear, the “laws” of being are different if you consider being as object or subject, substance or relation.

The philosophy of man (anthropology) is spelled out in Gaudium et Spes #24:

“The Lord Jesus, when praying to the Father ‘that they may all be one… even as we are one’ (Jn. 17, 21-22), has opened up new horizons closed to human reason by implying the union of the sons of God in  truth and love. It follows, then, that if ma is the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake,[18] man can fully find discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself.”

            And now the faith of Abraham begins to take on its global outreach. The new “axial age” is upon us. The Person of Christ as “the working person” is on the threshold of becoming the defining center of a new global civilization and the new evangelization.

Consider Benedict’s thought concerning the Europe of now:


Faith Needs Reason:

An Axial Moment of History (The First: 600 B.C. // The Second: 2000)

  Faith needs reason to give a philosophical (ontological) account of the Person of Jesus Christ (“I and the Father are one,” Jn. 10, 30; “The Father is greater than I,” Jn. 14, 28) as One God with the Father, yet a distinct Person.” The Greek category of substance is not useful for “person” since it would issue into three Gods. The category of relation hypostasized, or made constitutive – subsistent – has been the received development of the theology of the high Middle Ages. Sts. Thomas and Bonaventure, etc. call the divine Persons “subsistent relations.” The classic Thomist Reginald Garrigou Lagrange writes:  since there are three persons in God, they can be distinct one from the other only by the three relations which are mutually opposed (paternity, and filiation, and passive spiration): because, as has been said, all else in God is identical.
These real relations, since they are subsistent (not accidental): and are, on the other hand, incommunicable (being opposed): can constitute the divine persons. In these subsistent relations we find the two characteristics of person: substantiality[19] and incommunicability.
A divine person, then, according to St. Thomas and his school, is a divine relation as subsistent. [551] Elsewhere the saint gives the following definition: [552] A divine person is nothing else than a subsistent relation.[20]

Recall that Ratzinger will speak of these relations not as objects of conceptual thought (abstractions) but as actions: “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… independent of the concept of substance and not to be classified among the ‘accidents” (…)[21]
            This now issues into a Christology where Ratzinger carries the constitutive relationality of the divine Person of the Son into the deep interpretation of the scriptural texts of Christ. Ratzinger remarks immediately after writing the above that this extreme, apparently abstract philosophical speculation, leads directly into the texts of the Gospel of St. John. For example, “‘The Son can do nothing of his own accord’ (Jn. 5, 19 and 30). This seems to rob the Son of all power; he has nothing of his own; precisely because he is the Son he can only operate by virtue of him to whom he owes his whole existence. What first becomes evident here is that the concept ‘Son’ is a concept of relation. By calling the Lord ‘Son,’ John gives him a name that always points away from him and beyond him; he thus employs a term that denotes essentially a relationship. He thereby puts his whole Christology into the context of the idea of relation. Formulas like the one just mentioned only emphasize this; they only, as it were, draw out what is implicit in the word ‘son,’ the relativity which it contains.”[22]
            It gets more interesting when he begins to explain that this rational and philosophical exegesis of scripture is not referring to Christ as an exception, but that it is the meaning of what it means to be a Christian. It is not merely analogy. It is Christological anthropology. For example, the work of Christ in Nazareth, or speaking the Word is to be interpreted relationally. It is His very Self that is spoken and done. “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 not longer divisible. Here there is not 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 [such as Greek “substance”;’ here there is no ‘I’ separate from the work; the ‘I’ is the work and the work is the ‘I.’”
            This Christological anthropology now becomes formulated in #24 of Gaudium et Spes: “Man, the only earthly being God has willed for itself, finds himself by the sincere gift of himself.” And this now becomes the rational, philosophical center-piece for sexuality (Marriage as subjective self-gift, not primary and secondary ends of a nature; Humanae Vitae where love making must be life giving because it is the total self given relationally; work is the act of the person mastering self to get possession of self in order to make a gift of self as in “Laborem Exercens #6,” and the recent “Caritas in Veritate” on the economy of gratuitousness[23]; and the political order built on the subsidiarity and solidarity that issues from Gaudium et spes #24. The center of the social doctrine of the Church is the living personalism of GS 24 and as such “is not a ‘third way’ between liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism [that are ideologies], nor even a possible alternative to other solutions less radically opposed to one another: rather, it constitutes a category of its own.”[24]

Faith Needs Reason To Translate "Divine Person" as "Relation" and Therefore Communicable  As "Concept"

“The Christian Revelation of the Unity of the Human Race Presupposes a Metaphysical Interpretation of the ‘Humanum’ in which Relationality Is an Essential Element”[25]

On the feast of the Epiphany on January 6, 2007, Benedict said:

“The whole of the Second Vatican Council was truly stirred by the longing to proclaim Christ, the Light of the world, to contemporary humanity. In the heart of the Church, from the summit of her hierarchy, emerged the impelling desire, awakened by the Spirit, for a new epiphany of Christ in the world, a world that the modern epoch had profoundly transformed and that, for the first time in history, found itself facing the challenge of a global civilization in which the centre could no longer be Europe or even what we call the West and the North of the world. The need to work out a new world political and economic order was emerging but, at the same time and above all, one that would be both spiritual and cultural, that is, a renewed humanism. This observation became more and more obvious: a new world economic and political order cannot work unless there is a spiritual renewal, unless we can once again draw close to God and find God in our midst. Before the Second Vatican Council, the enlightened minds of Christian thinkers had already intuited and faced this epochal challenge. Well, at the beginning of the third millennium, we find ourselves in the midst of this phase of human history that now focuses on the word "globalization."

What is the Meaning Today of European-American Culture?

Then-Cardinal Ratzinger asked: “Above all, what is European culture, and what has remained of it? Is European culture perhaps nothing more than the technology and trade civilization that has marched triumphantly across the planet? Or is it instead a post-European culture born on the ruins of the ancient European cultures? (...) The victory of the post-European techno-secular world and the universalization of its lifestyle and thinking have spread the impression – especially in the non-European countries of Asia and Africa – that Europe’s value system, culture, and faith – in other words, the very foundations of its identity – have reached the end of the road, and have indeed already departed from the scene. From this perspective, the time has apparently arrived to affirm the value systems of other worlds, such as pre-Colombian America, Islam, or Asian mysticism.

“At the hour of its greatest success, Europe [America] seems hollow, as if it were internally paralyzed by a failure of its circulatory system that is endangering its life subjecting it to transplants that erase its identity. At the same time as its sustaining spiritual forces have collapsed, a growing decline in its ethnicity is also taking place.”[16]

Further: Ratzinger ends his talk announcing this insightful yet chilling fact:

“The essential problem of our times, for Europe and for the world, is that although the fallacy of the communist economy has been recognized – so much so that former communists have unhesitatingly become economic liberals – the moral and religious question that it used to address has been almost totally repressed. The unresolved issue of Marxism lives on: the crumbling of man’s original uncertainties about God, himself, and the universe. The decline of a moral conscience grounded in absolute values is still our problem today. Left untreated, it could lead to the self-destruction of the European conscience, which we must begin to consider as a real danger –above and beyond the decline predicted by Spengler.”[17]

Notice: “The unresolved issue of Marxism lives on: the crumbling of man’s original uncertainties about God, himself, and the universe. The decline of a moral conscience grounded in absolute values is still our problem today.”

            Joseph Ratzinger’s Attitude toward Modernity (Interviewed by Robert Moynihan)[26]:

“Ought we to accept modernity in full, or in part? Is there a real contribution? Can this modern way of thinking be a contribution, or offer a contribution, or not? And if there is a contribution from the modern, critical way of thinking, in line with the Enlightenment, how can it be reconciled with the great intuitions and the great gifts of the faith?

            “Or ought we, in the name of the faith, to reject modernity? You see? There always seems to be this dilemma: either we must reject the whole of the tradition, all the exegesis of the Fathers, relegate it to the library as historically unsustainable, or we must reject modernity.
            “And I think that the gift, the light of the faith, must be dominant, but the light of the faith has also the capacity to take up into itself the true human lights, and for this reason the struggles over exegesis and the liturgy for me must be inserted into this great, let us call it epochal, struggle over how Christianity, over how the Christian responds to modernity, to the challenge of modernity?

(Moynihan) “You use the phrase ‘epochal struggle’…”

(Benedict XVI) “Yes.”

(Moynihan) Well, at the very least, that means it is a struggle of enormous historical importance…”

(Benedict XVI) “Yes, certainly…”

(Benedict XVI) “And it seems to me, that this was the true intention of the Second Vatican Council, to go beyond an unfruitful and overly narrow apologetic to a true synthesis with the positive elements of modernity, but at the same time, let us say, to transform modernity, to heal it of its illnesses, by means of the light and strength of the faith.

            “Because it was the council Fathers’ intention to heal and transform modernity, and not simply to succumb to it or merge with it, the interpretations which interpret the Second Vatican Council in the sense of de-sacralization or profanation are erroneous.

            “That is, Vatican II must not be interpreted as desiring a rejection of the tradition and an adapting of the Church to modernity and so causing the Church to become empty because it loses the word of faith.”

            “Augustine, as you know, was a man who, on the one hand, had studied in great depth the great philosophies, the profane literature of the ancient world.

            “On other hand, he was also very critical of the pagan authors, even with regard to Plato, to Virgil, those great authors whom he loved so much.

            “He criticized them, and with a penetrating sense, purified them.
            “This was his way of using the great pre-Christian culture: purify it, heal it, and in this way, also, healing it, he gave true greatness to this culture. Because in this way, it entered into the fact of the incarnation, no? And became parat of the Word’s incarnation.

            “But only by means of the difficult process of purification, of transformation, of conversion.

            “I  would say the word ‘conversion’ is the key word, one of the key words, of St. Augustine, and our culture also has a need for conversion. Without conversion one does not arrive at the Lord. This is true of the individual, and this is true of the culture as well…”[27]


Me: The characteristic of Modernity is the turn to the subject. Until Vatican II, the Magisterium and cultural orthodoxy has aimed both barrels at the relativism of subjectivism understood to be caused by a retreat into the subject, which has been considered the cause of all the post-conciliar subjectivism as denial and destructive of the absolute character of truth. Most Catholic orthodoxy, since the Vatican II, has been apologetic in critiquing Modernity.

            However, the purpose of the Council was the enrichment of faith which meant precisely to move from the hegemony of an epistemology of “objects” which is abstractive and reductive to an epistemology of the subject as experiencing self by the self-transcending act of faith. Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, in writing his catechism of Vat. II for the diocese of Krakow – “Sources of Renewal” – wrote: “If we study the Conciliar magisterium as a whole, we find 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?”[28] In a word, what does it mean to be subject believing?

 Subject-Ontological and Constitutively Relational: I-Gift

            Vatican II answered that question: The Decree on divine revelation, “Dei Verbum #5,” reads: “‘The obedience of faith’ (Rom. 16, 26; cf. Tom. 1, 5; 2 Cor. 10, 5-6) must be given to God as he reveals himself. By faith man freely commits his entire self to God, making ‘the full submission of his intellect and will to God who reveals.’”

Gaudium et spes #24 reads: “(T)he Lord Jesus, when praying to the Father ‘that they may all be one… even as we are one’ (Jn. 17, 21-22), has opened up new horizons closed to human reason by implying that there is a certain parallel between the union existing among the divine person and the union of the sons of God in truth and love. It follows, then, that if man is the only earthly being God has willed for itself, man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself.”

One God – Three Persons

            Joseph Ratzinger in his post-conciliar “Introduction to Christianity”[29] gave a conceptual and semantic account of this anthropology as grounded in the theological elaboration of the Christ’s revelation of the Trinity. He said there that there are two basic premises about the Christian God: “First it was clear that, seen absolutely, God is only One [“I and the Father are one,” Jn. 10, 30] that there is not a plurality of divine principles. Once this has been established it is clear that the oneness lies on the plane of substance; consequently the three-ness which must also be mentioned is not to be sought here. It must therefore exist on a different level, on that of relation, of the ‘relative’” [“The Father is greater than I,” Jn. 14, 28].

Ratzinger’s Statement of the Constitutive Relationality of Person of God, and Therefore of Man as Image of the Divine Person of the Son:

            “St. Augustine once enshrined this idea in the following formula: ‘He is not called Father with reference to himself but only in relation to the Son; seen by himself he is simply God.’ Here the decisive point comes beautifully to light. “Father’ is purely a concept of relationship. Only in being-for the other is he Father; n 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.
            “Expressed in the imagery of Christian tradition, this means that the First Person does not beget the Son in the sense of the act of begetting coming on to 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 ‘accident’,’ Christian thought discovered the kernel of the concept of person, which describes something other and infinitely more than the mere idea of the ‘individual.’ Let us listen once again to St. Augustine: ‘In God there are no accidents, only substance and relation.’ Therein lies concealed a revolution in man’s view of the world: the undivided sway of thinking in terms of substance is ended; relation 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 completed – so much does modern thought depend on the possibilities thus disclosed, but for which it would be inconceivable.”[30]

The Contribution of Karol Wojtyla: He discovered that the meaning of faith in St. John of the Cross was the entire self given. There were no concepts as proportionate means of signifying God. The whole self given as love in St. John was the medium of knowing, without being a “medium.” Wojtyla did his thesis on this with the Thomist Reginald Garrigou Lagrange who endured it but was not highly favorable. Wojtyla went on to pass his habilitation thesis using the phenomenology of Max Scheler which he applied to the subjectivity of the believing self in St. John. He went on to write “Love and Responsibility” where the self is not consciousness but ontological reality as self-gift (see p. 94). He then wrote the “Acting Person” which develops the notion of the experience of the “I” in the act of self-giving that takes place in faith and in spousal love. The “I” is the new horizon of realism where it, the “I,” experiences self in the act of going out of self, be it faith or love. Add to this Ratzinger’s theological development of relationality in the divine Persons as Prototypes of the human person and we are into a new metaphysics where “Being” is now the “I,” and “I” as the first meaning of Being and reality. I would suggest that this is a second “axial” period which is really a heightened realism that has emerged from what has heretofore been subjectivist relativism.
The reality of all realities is the Person of Jesus Christ, the Word of the Father. The goal of this new axial period is to recover what has been the mere subjectivism of Modernity and experience and disclose that it is Christ Himself Who is the meaning of the human person. Take the following as the supreme statement of realism: Furthermore, the Word of God is the foundation of everything, it is the true reality. And to be realistic, we must rely upon this reality. We must change our idea that matter, solid things, things we can touch, are the more solid, the more certain reality. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount the Lord speaks to us about the two possible foundations for building the house of one's life: sand and rock. The one who builds on sand builds only on visible and tangible things, on success, on career, on money. Apparently these are the true realities. But all this one day will pass away. We can see this now with the fall of large banks: this money disappears, it is nothing. And thus all things, which seem to be the true realities we can count on, are only realities of a secondary order. The one who builds his life on these realities, on matter, on success, on appearances, builds upon sand. Only the Word of God is the foundation of all reality, it is as stable as the heavens and more than the heavens, it is reality. Therefore, we must change our concept of realism. The realist is the one who recognizes the Word of God, in this apparently weak reality, as the foundation of all things. Realist is the one who builds his life on this foundation, which is permanent. Thus the first verses of the Psalm invite us to discover what reality is and how to find the foundation of our life, how to build life. [31]
Ratzinger’s Theological Epistemology: How to know the Person of Christ: 1) prayer;[32] 2) sincerity (The Samaritan Woman at the well[33]).

            The key then is to center global reality on the Person of Christ as the Word, and that is done by making the human person made in his image and likeness as the defining center –  a new anthropology –of all human action: sexuality, economics and politics.

            And it is here that we will witness the greatest reconstruction of reason by Christian faith since the 6th century B.C. when Judaic faith raised reason from the darkness of myth and paganism to the heights of Greek philosophy and metaphysics. Charles Taylor referred to this 6th century B.C. as the axial period of world enlightenment,[34] and perhaps we can look to the present moment as a second “axial” period.  This time, however, instead of exposing reason to the Absolute of the God of Judaism

            Me: We have not solved Marxism by Capitalism. There is ultimately no difference. We have not moved one iota from the consciousness of man as an economic automaton. We have no consciousness of God, the meaning of the human person as mere individual to be manipulated, nor the universe as a meaningless object to which we impose meaning.

            The ideologies of Marxism and Capitalism can only be resolved by the person as image of the Trinitarian God in the exercise of work. Instead of the Socialism and Capitalism: the working person. In work, the human person finds himself by the sincere gift of himself[35]. Thus, what is true in both ideologies is released in the solidarity and subsidiarity of the person that is derived from the revealed notion of person in Christ that is ultimate derived from the Trinity.

            Notice that we are now on the brink of the achievement of the promise made to Abraham that he would be the father in faith of the global population. As the ideologies collapse, the shoot of the working person – finding self as Christ by sincere gift of self -  begins to emerge. The one world to which we are destined (“Going, teach all nations…”) will have one defining truth: the dignity of the human person revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ: true God and true Man, who is the Word of the engendering Father of the Trinity.

            Secularity: The truth of Christ as the defining center of the global population is not “religious” but secular. Secular is defined by the humanity and freedom of Jesus Christ to master and subdue His human will to live out the obedience to the Father that He is in His Person. Secularity is never a given out there now. It is an achievement of becoming Christ, exercising his freedom of self-mastery and therefore “autonomy.” Our goal for each to be another Christ in work in the world is not a theocracy, but secularity as true freedom and true autonomy (theonomy). See the Letter from the Prelate November 28, 1995, #20-21.

[16] J. Ratzinger, “The Spiritual Roots of Europe” in Without Roots Basic Books (2006) 65-66.
[17] Ibid 74.

[1] Whittaker Chamber, describing unpurified Modernity, wrote: “It measures happiness and success in terms of money, comfort, appearances and what it calls pleasure. I, for one, would not want to live a life in which money, comfort, appearances and pleasure mean success. There is something wrong with a people that measure its happiness and success in those terms. It has lost its mind. It has no mind; it has only activity. ‘What shall be said… of those who have destroyed the mind of a nation” “Witness” Regnery (1980) 148.
[2] J. Ratzinger, “In the Beginning…” Eerdmans (1995) 10-12.
[3] R. Sokolowski, “The God of Faith and Reason,” UNDP (1982) 12.
[4] Ibid.
[5] According to Matthew Henry, Ezekiel is also believed to have been known as Nazaratus Assyrius, a teacher to Pythagoras…. Sir William Smith, in his "Bible Dictionary," points out that John Selden, among others, consider it a possibility. In the book "Pythagoras: Greek philosopher" it states; "Nazaratus, the Assyrian, one of Pythagoras' masters, was supposed to be the prophet Ezekiel, and Thomas Stanley's Life of Pythagoras says that Ezekiel and Pythagoras flourished together.
[6] R. Sokolowski, “The God of Faith and Reason,” UNDP (1982) 23.
[7] St. Anselm, “Proslogion,” Chapter 20.
[8] Ibid. 12-13.
[9] Ibid. 13.
[10] J. Ratzginer, “Milestones, Memoirs 1927-1977,” Ignatius (1998) 108.
[11] Lk. 1, 45.
[12] John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater #14: “In the salvific economy of God’s revelation, Abraham’s faith constitutes the beginning of the Old Covenant; Mary’s faith at the Annunciation inaugurates the New Covenant…Mary’s ‘obedience of faith’ during the whole of her pilgrimage will show surprising similarities to the faith of Abraham… To believe means ‘to abandon oneself’ to the truth of the word of the living God…”
[13] J. Ratzinger, “‘In the Beginning…’” Eerdmans Publishing Co. (1995) 11-12.
[14] J. Ratzinger, “Church, Ecumenism and Politics,” Crossroad (1988) 218.
[15] John Paul II, “Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” Knopf (1994) 33-34.
[16] Ibid. 34, 36.
[17] K. Wojtyla, “Subjectivity and the Irreducible in the Human Being,” Person and Communit, Lang (1993) 214.
[18] This means that not even God can use man for a purpose other than himself, and this because He has made man free to determine himself and decide for himself, about himself. And this is the reason why God has revealed the supernatural destiny of man. Cf. Wojtyla’s “Love and Responsibility,” Ignatius (1990) 27.
[19] In a distinct epistemological horizon, that resulting from the experience of the self as subject [not object], we should use the term “subject” rather than “substance.”
[20] Reality, “A Synthesis of Thomistic Thought,” #551-552

[21] J. Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” Ignatius (1990) 131-132.
[22] Ibid. 133.
[23] “(I)n commercial relationships the principle of gratuitousness and the logic of gift as an expression of fraternity can and must find their place within normal economic activity. This is a human demand at the present time, but it is also demanded by economic logic;” Caritas in Veritate #36.
[24] John Paul II, “On Social Concern,” #41.
[25] Benedict XVI “Caritas in Veritate” June 29, 2009 #55.
[26] Robert Moynihan, “Let God’s Light Shine Forth, The Spiritual Visin of Pope Benedict XVI” Doubleday (2005)
[27]  Ibid 34-35.
[28] K Wojtyla, “Sources of Renewal” Harper and Row (1979) 17.
[29] J. Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” Ignatius (1990) 131-132.
[30] Ibid 132
[31] Benedict XVI, Keynote Address before the “Synod on the Word of God,” Oct. 6, 2008.
[32] “In Thesis 1 we saw that prayer was the central act of the person of Jesus and, indeed, that this person is constituted by the act of prayer, of unbroken communication with the one he calls ‘Father.’ If this is the case, it is only possible really to understand this person by entering into this act of prayer, by participating in it. This is suggested by Jesus’ saying that no one can come to him unless the Father draws him (Jn. 6, 44). Where there is no Father, there is no Son. Where there is no relationship with God, there can be no understanding of him who, in his innermost self, is nothing but relationship with God, the Father – although one can doubtless establish plenty of details about him. Therefore a participation in the mind of Jesus, i.e., in his prayer, which (as we have seen) is an act of love, of self-giving and self-expropriation to men, is not some kind of pious supplement to reading the Gospels, adding nothing to knowledge of him or even being an obstacle to the rigorous purity of critical knowing. On the contrary, it is the basic precondition if real understanding, in the senses of modern hermeneutics – i.e., the entering-in to the same time and the same meaning – is to take place.

                “The New Testament continually reveals this state of affairs and thus provides the foundation for a theological epistemology. Here is simply one example: when Ananias was sent to Paul to receive him into the Church, he was reluctant and suspicious of Paul; the reason given to him was this: go to him ‘for he is praying’ (Acts 9, 11). In prayer, Paul is moving toward the moment when he will be freed from blindness and will begin to see, not only exteriorly, but interiorly as well. The person who prays begins to see; praying and seeing go together because… ‘Love is the faculty of seeing.’ Real advances in Christology, therefore, can never come merely as the result of the theology of the schools, and that includes the modern theology as we find it in critical exegesis, in the history of doctrine and in an anthropology oriented toward the human sciences, etc. All this is important, as important as schools are. But it is insufficient. It must be complemented by the theology of the saints, which is theology from experience. All real progress in theological understanding has it origin in the eye of love and in its faculty of beholding;” (“Behold the Pierced One,” Ignatius (1986) 25-27.
[33] J. Ratzinger, “Principles of Catholic Theology,” Ignatius (1987) 353-355.
[34] “Human agents are embedded in society, society in the cosmos, and the cosmos incorporates the divine. What I’ve been describing as the Axial transformations breaks this chain at least at one point, if not more. Oakley argues that the break  point which was particularly fateful for our development in the West was the rupture, as it were, at the top, the Jewish idea of (what we now call) creation ex nihilo, which took God quite out of the cosmos, and placed him above it. This meant that potentially God can become the source of demands that we break with ‘the way of the world;’ that what Brague refers to as ‘the wisdom of the world’ no longer constrains us.” Taylor goes on: “The transcendent may now be quite beyond or outside of the cosmos, as with the Creator God of Genesis, or the Nirvana of Buddhism. Or if it remains cosmic, it loses its original ambivalent character, and exhibits an order o unalloyed goodness, as with the ‘Heaven,’ guarantor of just rule in Chinese thought, or the order of  Ideas of Plato, whose key is the Good… But the second term must perforce also change. The highest human goal can no longer just be to flourish, as it was before. Either a new goal is posited, of a salvation which takes us beyond what we usually understand as human flourishing. Or else Heaven, or the Good, lays the demand on us to imitate or embody its unambiguous goodness and hence to alter the mundane order of things down here. This may, indeed usually does involve flourishing on a wider scale, but our own flourishing (as individual, family, clan or tribe) can no longer be our highest goal. And of course, this may be expressed by a redefinition of what ‘flourishing’ consists in;” Charles Taylor, “A Secular Age,” Belknap Harvard (2007) 152-153.
[35] “Man has to subdue the earth and dominate it, because as the ‘image of God’ he is a person, that is to say, a subjective being capable of acting in a planned and rational way, capable of deciding about himself, and with a tendency to self-realization. As a person, man is therefore the subject of work. As a person he works, he performs various actions belonging to the work process: independently of their objective content, these actions must all serve to realize his humanity, to fulfill the calling to be a person that is his by reason of his very humanity….The source of the dignity of work are to be sought primarily in the subjective dimension, not in the objective one… the primary basis of the value of work is man himself, who is its subject…. In the final analysis it is always man who is the purpose of the work, whatever work it is…” Laborem Exercens #6.

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