Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Introduction to Theology - Workshop Arnold Hall July 13-19 2012

Introduction to Theology
Workshop Arnold Hall
July 13 -19, 2012

What is Theology? What is the central problem of our time? In the year 2,000, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger offered an address to catechists entitled “The New Evangelization.” There he paraphrased the theologian J. B. Metz who said thatThe true problem of our times is the "Crisis of God," the absence of God, disguised by an empty religiosity. Theology must go back to being truly theo-logy, speaking about and with God.
“Metz is right: the "unum necessarium" to man is God. Everything changes, whether God exists or not. Unfortunately -- we Christians also often live as if God did not exist ("si Deus non daretur"). We live according to the slogan: God does not exist, and if he exists, he does not belong.”
Later in 2006, Ratzinger wrote: “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.”[1]

Status Quaestionis: GOD. The Experience of God and Consciousness of God.
Only God knows God. Benedict XVI in Brazil in 2007 cuts straight to the chase:  “What is real? Are only material goods, social, economic and political problems ‘reality’? This was precisely the great error of the dominant tendencies of the last century, a most destructive error, as we can see from the results of both Marxist and capitalist systems. They falsify the notion of reality by detaching it from the foundational and decisive reality which is God. Anyone who excludes God from his horizons falsifies the notion of ‘reality’ and, in consequence, can only end up in blind alleys or with recipes for destruction.”
Yet here a further question immediately arises: who knows God? How can we know him? We cannot enter here into a complex discussion of this fundamental issue. For a Christian, the nucleus of the reply is simple: only God knows God, only his Son who is God from God, true God, knows him. And he "who is nearest to the Father’s heart has made him known" (John 1:18). Hence the unique and irreplaceable importance of Christ for us, for humanity. If we do not know God in and with Christ, all of reality is transformed into an indecipherable enigma; there is no way, and without a way, there is neither life nor truth.

“God is the foundational reality, not a God who is merely imagined or hypothetical, but God with a human face; he is God-with-us, the God who loves even to the Cross. When the disciple arrives at an understanding of this love of Christ "to the end", he cannot fail to respond to this love with a similar love: "I will follow you wherever you go" (Luke 9:57).
“We can ask ourselves a further question: what does faith in this God give us? The first response is: it gives us a family, the universal family of God in the Catholic Church. Faith releases us from the isolation of the "I", because it leads us to communion: the encounter with God is, in itself and as such, an encounter with our brothers and sisters, an act of convocation, of unification, of responsibility towards the other and towards others. In this sense, the preferential option for the poor is implicit in the Christological faith in the God who became poor for us, so as to enrich us with his poverty (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9).

Yet before we consider what is entailed by the realism of our faith in the God who became man, we must explore the question more deeply: how can we truly know Christ so as to be able to follow him and live with him, so as to find life in him and to communicate that life to others, to society and to the world? First and foremost, Christ makes his person, his life and his teaching known to us through the word of God.” [2]

* * * * * * * *


The two goals that are one: the recovery of the experience of God, and the recovery of reason by experiencing God. Reason has been severely damaged by the loss of the experience of the Absolute. As Benedict said on April 19, 2005: we are experiencing a dictatorship of relativism.           
We may be able to know that God exists. But God is known as a fact that has no traction with my deeper self.  We do not have an experiential knowledge of God and therefore we do not know ourselves who are His image. Therefore, the context of the workshop: “No one at any time has seen God. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed him” (Jn. 1, 18). Hence, the topic of theo-logos becomes the topic of the God-man, Jesus Christ, Whom I can experience if I experience myself as His image. The crisis of the moment is the crisis of God and therefore the crisis of man.
            The crisis of man appears in all clarity: the global economy. Selfish financial profit trumps the working person; the ideology of homosexual union trumps the family; the dictatorship of relativism (no absolutes)…
The Object of Faith is the Subject: The Person of Christ:
What is Revelation? Answer: A Divine Person.
Joseph Ratzinger’s Habilitation Thesis: “Here, `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. These insights, gained through my reading of Bonaventure, were later on very important for me at the time of the conciliar discussion on revelation, Scripture, and tradition. Because, if Bonaventure is right, then revelation precedes Scripture and becomes deposited in Scripture but is not simply identical with it. This in turn means that revelation is always something greater than what is merely written down. And this again means that there can be no such thing as pure sola scriptura (`by Scripture alone’), because an essential element of Scripture is the Church as understanding subject, and with this the fundamental sense of tradition is already given.”[3]

That Means that Revelation is Not Reducible to “The Book” of Sacred Scripture

“You can have Scripture without having revelation. For revelation always and only becomes a reality where there is faith. The nonbeliever remains under the veil of which Paul speaks in the third chapter of his Second Letter to the Corinthians. He can read Scripture and know what is in it, can even understand at a purely intellectual level, what is meant and how what is said hangs together – and yet he has not shared in the revelation. Rather, revelation has only arrived where, in addition to the material assertions witnessing to it, its inner reality has itself become effective after the manner of faith. Consequently, the person who receives it also is a part of the revelation to a certain degree, for without him it does not exist. You cannot pout revelation in your pocket like a book you carry around with you. It is a living reality that requires a living person as the locus of its presence.” [4] And again: “If Bonaventure is right, then revelation precedes Scripture and becomes deposited in Scripture but is not simply identical with it. This in turn means that revelation is always something greater than what is merely written down. And this again means that there can be no such thing as pure sola scriptura (‘by Scripture alone’), because an essential element of Scripture is the Church as understanding subject, and with this the fundamental sense of tradition is already given.[5] Notice here that the Church is the believing Subject receiving the Person of Christ Who is Revelation, and therefore, the Church is unique in doing the exegesis of Scripture which is Revelation as written down, but its meaning must be ascertained by the believing Church. Similarly, our Lady is the prototype of interpreting Christ as the one who received Christ into her.

Then, What is Sacred Scripture?

Sacred Scripture is the Word of God consigned to writing. It is not identical with Revelation, but contains it.  “We hear God by listening to His words given to us in the Sacred Scripture. In fact I am convinced that the lectio divina is the fundamental element in the formation of the sense of the faith and consequently the most important task for a bishop, teacher of the faith. The lectio divina in the thought of the Church Fathers is identical to Christian meditation. We are speaking, therefore, not of a purely theoretical reading, guided only by intellectual curiosity; and that arrogance that treats Scripture as a fossil is also to be excluded. Such arrogance approaches it as anatomy does a dead body, studying it, cutting it up, dominating it. We must not forget: the lectio divine is listening to God, who speaks to us, speaks to me. This act of listening therefore demands true and profound attention of the heart, a willingness which is not only intellectual but integral to the whole man. The words of others, and in special way God’s words, are not understood with the intellect alone, but only by the opening up of the totality of our being.”[6]

            The Realism of the Word of God: It [Psalm 18] begins like this: “In aeternum, Domine, verbum tuum constitutum est in caelo... firmasti terram, et permanet”. This refers to the solidity of the Word. It is solid, it is the true reality on which we must base our life. Let us remember the words of Jesus who continues the words of this Psalm: “Sky and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away”. Humanly speaking, the word, my human word, is almost nothing in reality, but a breath. As soon as it is pronounced, it disappears. It seems like nothing. But already the human word has incredible force. It is words that create history, it is words that form thoughts, the thoughts that create the word. It is the word that forms history, reality.

Even more, 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 notion that matter, solid things, things we can touch, is the most solid, the most 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. He who builds on sand only builds on visible and tangible things, on success, on career, on money. Apparently these are the true realities. But all this one day will vanish. We can see this now with the fall of two 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. 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 he who recognizes the Word of God, in this apparently weak reality, as the foundation of all things. Realist is he 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.

The following verse says: “Omnia serviunt tibi”. All things come from the Word, they are products of the Word. “In the beginning was the Word”. In the beginning the heavens spoke. And thus reality was born of the Word, it is “creatura Verbi”. All is created from the Word and all is called to serve the Word. This means that all of creation, in the end, is thought to create the meeting place between God and His creature, a place where the history of love between God and His creature can develop. “Omnia serviunt tibi”. The history of salvation is not a small event, on a poor planet, in the immensity of the universe. It is not a minimal thing, which happens by chance on a lost planet. It is the motivation for everything, the motivation for creation. Everything is created so that this story can exist, the encounter between God and His creature. In this sense, the history of salvation, Covenant, precedes creation. During the Hellenistic period, Judaism developed the idea that the Torah would have preceded the creation of the material world. This material world seems to have been created solely to make place for the Torah, for this Word of God that creates the answer and becomes the history of love. The mystery of Christ already is mysteriously revealed here. This is what we are told in the Letter to the Ephesians and to the Colossians: Christ is the prototypos, the first-born of creation, the idea the universe was conceived for. He welcomes all. We enter in the movement of the universe by uniting with Christ. One can say that, while material creation is the condition for the history of salvation, the history of the Covenant is the true cause of the cosmos. We reach the roots of being by reaching the mystery of Christ, His living word that is the aim of all creation. “Omnia serviunt tibi”. In serving the Lord we achieve the goal of the being, the goal of our own existence.

Let us take a leap forward: “Mandata tua exquisivi”. We are always searching for the Word of God. It is not merely present in us. Just reading it does not mean necessarily that we have truly understood the Word of God. The danger is that we only see the human words and do not find the true actor within, the Holy Spirit. We cannot find the Word in the words. Saint Augustine, in this context, recalls the scribes and Pharisees consulted by Herod when the Magi arrived. Herod wants to know where the Savior of the world would be born. They know this, they give the correct answer: in Bethlehem. They are great specialists, who know everything. However they do not see reality, they do not know the Savior. Saint Augustine says: they are signs on the road for the others, but they themselves do not move. This is a great danger as well in our reading of the Scriptures: we stop at the human words, words form the past, history of the past, and we do not discover the present in the past, the Holy Spirit who speaks to us today with the words from the past. This is not how we may enter the internal movement of the Word, which in human words hides and opens the divine words. Therefore, there is always a need for “exquisivi”. We must always look for the Word within words.

Therefore, exegesis, the true reading of the Holy Scripture, is not only a literary phenomenon, not only reading a text. It is the movement of my existence. It is moving towards the Word of God in the human words. Only by conforming to the Mystery of God, to the Lord who is the Word, can we enter within the Word, can we truly find the Word of God in human words. Let us pray to the Lord that He may help us to look for the word, not only with our intellect but also with our entire existence.
“I am yours”. Let us pray the Lord that we may learn to say this word with our whole being. That way we will be in the heart of the Word. That way we will be saved.[7]
What is the Act of Faith? Response to the Word
John Paul II: “It is urgent to rediscover and to set forth once more the authentic reality of the Christian faith, which is not simply a set of propositions to be accepted with intellectual assent. Rather, faith is a lived knowledge of Christ, a living remembrance of his commandments, a truth to be lived out. A word, in any event, is not truly received until it passes into action, until it is put into practice. Faith is a decision involving one’s whole existence. It is an encounter, a dialogue, a communion of love and of life between the believer and Jesus Christ, the Way, and the Truth, and the Life (cf. Jn. 14, 6). It entails an act of trusting abandonment to Christ, which enables us to live as he lived (cf. Gal. 2, 20), in profound love of God and of our brothers and sisters.”[8]
Benedict XVI: “What does the Church believe? This question includes the others: who believes, and how should one believe? The Catechism has dealt with both fundamental questions: the question of ‘what’ to believe and of ‘who’ believes, as one question with an interior unity. In other words, the catechism illustrates the act of the faith and the content of the faith in their inseparability….

   “What does all this mean? The faith is an orientation of our existence as a whole, in its completeness. It is a basic decision, one which has effects in every aspect of our existence and one which is realized only if it is supported by all the efforts of our existence. Faith is not solely an intellectual process, or solely one of the will or emotions; it is all of these together. It is an act of the entire self, of the whole person in the unity of all the elements of that person gathered into one. In this sense it was described by the Bible as an act of the ‘heart’ (Rom. 10, 9). It is a highly personal act. But precisely because of this, it surpasses the self, the ‘I,’ the limits of the individual. Nothing belongs to us as little as our self, St. Augustine affirms in one passage.

            Where the human being as a whole is at stake, he surpasses himself; an act of ‘being with.’ And even more: we cannot realize ourselves without touching our most profound foundation, the living God, who is present in the profundity of our existence and sustains it. Where the human being as a whole is at stake, together with the ‘I’ there is also present the ‘we’ and the ‘you’ of the totally other, the ‘you’ of God.”[9]
            In the strongest terms, one believes and knows the God of Jesus Christ (The Father [and therefore achieves eternal life {Jn. 17, 3}]) by the act of becoming “Another Christ” and dying to self [which is the deepest meaning of Baptism as sacrament[10]].
How Does One Know Christ?

            Historical Antecedent: Regensburg. Greek myth (reason alone) meets Judaic faith (damaged but recovering). The Greeks experience no absolute in empirical sensation. Therefore, the multiplicity of gods, the mythology that exalts “gods” in order to control material reality: 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, for what happens. Some of gods rule over and in natural  phenomena; others, the gods of the city, are  involved in political events; still others are related to families. As far as human beings are concerned, the gods represent necessities that must be accepted and against which a man can pretend to act only at his peril.”[11] However, they are always within the epistemological framework of the sensible world. It was Werner Heisenberg who explained that that the world as we experience in the senses is other than the way we have come to understand it.[12]

            The Regensburg Address: The mutual intersplicing in the 6th century B.C. (the Axial age) of Abrahamic faith with Greek reason. Abrahamic faith had not affected the rational mind of the Jews until the Exile (6th c.) when in contact with Greek reason, the Old Testament was committed to writing, became Wisdom literature, translated into Greek and ordered to future global wisdom when incarnated in Jesus Christ. Greek myth was jettisoned and emerged as search for the cosmic absolute in Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes (Greek: Άναξιμένης) of Miletus (b. 585 BCE, d. 528 BCE), Heraclitus, Parmenides, Democritus Empedocles, Anaxagoras, etc. and on into Plato and Aristotle who are already a decline (according to Heidegger) from Anaximander (fragment).

            Historically, the Jews lost the experience of faith as self-transcendence in the disobedience leading to the Exile. Note that to disobey is to break the relation to the authority one was obeying. One ceases to be relational the way God is revealed to be relational as One and Three.
But then, in the experience of losing their land and the temple, they were reminded by the prophets who jogged their memory that the Lord was the Creator of everything, not only the Promised Land and the temple, and that He was Creator also of Babylon, the land of their Exile and of the entire world. They had always known this, but it was not important to them when they were concerned only about themselves and lost faith. Now it was painfully evident that their “world” was not a necessary world since now it wasn’t. They were also being confronted with the pagan god Marduk, the god of light who split the body of the primordial dragon in two from which came heaven and earth. Marduk fashioned human beings from the dragon’s blood.  Ratzinger comments: “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 [so restricted]… He was not the God of one place, but rather had power over heaven and earth… And so it came to be understood that this God of Israel was not a God like other “gods,” but that he was the God who held sway over every land and people. He could do this… because he himself had created everything in heaven and on earth.”[13]
The important thing is to apply to the thought experiment what had historically happened to the Jews. If God is Creator (and therefore free – not needing the world to be), then His Being is not the world-being, and therefore must be known differently, because it is differently. The two worlds must be different since the world cannot be without the Creator, but the Creator can be without the world. In the thought experiment, remove the world. But in removing the world, you do not remove the Creator of the world since as Creator He is unchanged whether the world is, or is not, and this because His Being is Creative and not Created.

That said, since the being of the world and the Being of the Creator are irreducibly different, to know yourself as created, you would not know the Creator because He is uncreated.
 But suppose that as created you were also image of the Creator. Then, I would offer that to know yourself experientially would be to know the Creator experientially.

            Again, if there were a being in the world that was the image of the Creator, then that image would know the Creator when knowing himself because one knows oneself by experiencing oneself in action. If one experiences self and thereby becomes conscious of self, and one is image of God by creation, then in experiencing self and becoming conscious of self, one experiences God and becomes conscious of God. This is “the new evangelization.” Consider how all the dots connect here: Mt. 11, 27: “no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and him to whom the Son chooses to reveal him;” Jn. 1, 18: “No one has at any time seen God. The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed him.” So, no one has ever seen the Father, but the Church has stood at the empty tomb of the Son and sensibly experienced His resurrection from the dead. We have tactile experience of the Son: Lk. 24, 39-40: “Feel me and see; for a spirit does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

The Level of Experience of the Self as Prayer [Self Transcendence]: Orthopraxy (right doing) as foundation of orthodoxy (right knowing).

 The “Being” or reality that reason sees here is the “being” of the “I” as the relation of prayer. The “I” becomes another Christ, the Word of the Father. The experience of self as “another Christ” = experience the Father as Son of the Father whereby we can say Abba. This is to know God experientially by knowing self experientially. This experience of Christian anthropology now changes everything from sex to economics. Conjugal union and all work now become the occasion and achievement of the gift of self sanctity) that is proper to the divine Persons and imaged in the human. The “quid divinum hidden in the most ordinary situations”[14] which Paul VI said was “the most characteristic feature and the ultimate purpose of all the conciliar teaching”[15] now comes to light.

This is the third thesis of Ratzinger’s “Behold the Pierced One:”[16] “Since the center of the person of Jesus is prayer, it is essential to participate in his prayer if we are to know and understand him.” The reason? “The old axiom is that like is known by like. In matters of the mind and where persons are concerned, this means that knowledge calls for a cert ain degree of empathy, by which we enter, so to speak, into the person or intellectual reality concerned, become one with him or it, and thus become able to understand (intellegere = ab intus legere)…. In Thesis 1 we saw that prayer was the central act of the person of Jesus and, ineed, that this person is constituted by the act of prayer, of unbroken communication with the one he calls ‘Father.’ It this is the case, it is only posisible really to understand this person by entering into this act of prayer, by participating in it.” Hence, Ratzinger’s “theological epistemology.”

The above is the consciousness that faith is. It is the result of the experience of the self going out of self in the act of receiving the Word into self and experiencing self as “other Christ.”

Voila! Lk. 9, 18: “And it came to pass as he was praying in private, that his disciples also were with him, and he asked them, saying, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’ And they answered and said, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elias; and others, that one of the ancient prophets has risen again.’ And he said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ‘The Christ of God.’”

The human reason of Simon has been able to “know”[17] that this man Jesus of Nazareth is “The Son of the living God” (Mt. 16, 16). And Christ clarifies that “flesh and blood has not revealed this to thee, but my Father in heaven” (Mt. 16, 17). By “flesh and blood” is meant human reason or sensible experience. It has been the experience of going out of self in prayer with the physical man Jesus of Nazareth that enlightened the reason of Simon and enabled him to know what human reason cannot know by just sensible experience and abstract thought. The proof of this is the fact that Jesus changed Simon’s name from Simon, son of John to Peter (“rock”). Notice that Christ’s name is “cornerstone” (Acts 4, 11). Since “like is known by like,” He who is “conerstone can be known by one who has become “rock.”

            This is theology:  Theo-logos. Its development in and since Vatican II is the ontology of the self and epistemology of consciousness that goes with it. What is the challenge?

The Challenge:

Joseph Ratzinger’s Understanding of the Challenge to Faith Now:[18] We are beginning the moment for the full implementation of the divine promise to Abraham that his progeny of faith would extend to the ends of the earth. To achieve this reason had to experience being as existential and global in subjectivity. This has been the moment of Vatican II as a second kind of axial moment

Moynihan questions:

“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….”[19]

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Impact of Trinitarian Theology

“The First Person does not beget the So 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. Let us listen once again to St. Augustine: ‘In God here 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 is discovered as an equally valid primordial mode of reality. It becomes possible t surmount what we call today ‘objectifying thought;’ a new plane of being comes into view…”[20]


                “In St. John’s gospel Christ says of himself: ‘The Son can do nothing of his own accord’ (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. On the face of it, a contradiction arises when the same Christ says of himself in St. John?
 I and the Father are one’ (10. 30). But anyone who looks more closely will see at once that in reality the two statements are complementary. In that Jesus is called ‘Son’ and is thereby made relative to the Father, and in that Christology is ratified as a statement of relation, the automatic result is the total reference of Christ back to the Father. Precisely because he does not stand in himself he stands in him, constantly one with him.
                What this signifies, not just for =Christology but for t h e illumination of the whole meaning of being a Christian at all, comes to light when John extends these ideas to Christians, who proceed from Christ. It then becomes apparent that he explains by Christology what the Christian’s situation really is. We find here precisely the same interplay of the two series of statements as before. Parallel to the formula ‘The Son can do nothing of his own accord,’ which illumines Christology from the son-concept as a doctrine of relativity, is the statement about those who belong to Christ, the disciples: ‘Apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15, 5). Thus Christian existence is put with Christ into the category of relationship. And parallel to the logic which makes Christ say, ‘I and the Father are one,’ we find here the petition ‘that they may be one, even as we are one’ (17, 11) and 22). The significant difference from Christology comes to light in the fact that the unity of Christians is mentioned not in the indicative [as a fact] but in the form of a prayer [a work in progress].


Gaudium et Spes #22: Christ as “Prototype”[21] of Man

“In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear. For Adam, the first man, was a type of him who was to come, Christ the Lord., Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling… He who is the ‘image of the invisible God’ (Col. 1, 15), is himself the perfect man who has restored in the children of Adam that likeness to God which had been disfigured ever since the first sin. Human nature, by the very fact that it was assumed, not absorbed, in him, has been raised in us also to a dignity beyond compare. For, by his incarnation, he, the son of God, has in a cert ain way united himself with each man. He worked with human hands, he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin.”

Gaudium et Spes #24: Christian Anthropology

“(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 persons and the union of the sons of God in truth and love. It follows, then, that if man is the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake, man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself.”

                This is now the development of the natural law into the “law of the person” since nature and person are not interchangeable realities or terms.

                                                Sexuality: Humanae Vitae #11-12:

                “The Church, calling men back to the observance of the norms of the natural law, as interpreted by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marriage act (quilibet matrimonii usus) must remain open to the transmission of life.
                12. 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. Indeed, by its intimate structure, the conjugal act, while most closely uniting husband and wife, capacitates them for the generation opf new lives, according to laws inscribe din the very being of man and of woman. By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its ordination towards man’s most high calling to parenthood. We believe that the men of our day are particularly capable of seizing the deeply reasonable and human character of this fundamental principle.”

Social Doctrine:

“Centesimus Annus”#53

“It follows that the Church cannot abandon humanity, and that ‘this human person is the primary route that the Church must travel in fulfilling her mission… the way traced out by Christ himself. The way that leads invariably through the mystery of the Incarnation and the Redemption.’

                “This, and this alone is the principle which inspires the Church’s social doctrine. The Church has gradually developed that doctrine in a systematic way…
                54. Today, the Church’s social doctrine focuses especially on the person as he is involved in a complex network of relationships within modern societies. The human sciences and philosophy are helpful for interpreting the person’s central place within society and for enabling one to understand oneself better as a ‘social being.’ However, a person’s true identity is only fully revealed to him through faith, and it is precisely from faith that the Church’s social teaching begins. While drawing upon all the contributions made by the sciences and philosophy, her social teaching is aimed at helping everyone on the path of salvation.”

                “Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation” #73

                “73. The supreme commandment of love leads to the full recognition of the dignity of each individual, created in God’s image. From this dignity flow natural rights and duties. In the light of the image of God, freedom, which is the essential prerogative of the human person, is manifested in all its depth. Persons are the active and responsible subjects of social life.
                Intimately linked to the foundation, which is man’s dignity, are the principle of solidarity and the principle of subsidiarity.
                By virtue of the first, man with his brothers is obliged to contribute to the common good of society at all its levels. Hence the Church’s doctrine is opposed to all the forms of social or political individualism.
                By virtue of the second, neither the state nor any society must ever substitute itself fort the initiative and responsibility of individuals and of intermediate communities at the level on which they can function, nor must they take away the room necessary for their freedom. Hence the Church’s social doctrine is opposed to all forms of collectivism.”

Work:  “Laborem Exercens:” #6

“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  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 al serve to realize his humanity, to fulfill the calling to be a person that is his by reason of his very humanity.
                And so this ‘dominion’ spoken of in the biblical text… refers not only to the objective dimension of work but at the same time introduces us to an understanding of its subject dimension…. This dominion, in a certain sense, refers to the subjective dimension even more than to the objective one: this dimension conditions the very ethical nature of work.” (It is the discovery and development of self as “alter Christus” in work that is the “something holy [quid divinum], something divine hidden in the most ordinary situations” that is the meaning of “seeking the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs” [LG #31] and the constant teaching of St. Josemaria Escriva).

Secularity: Christifideles Laici #15

 Secularity as characteristic of the laity [dimension of the whole Church] is intrinsic to Christian anthropology, not the result of an extrinsic state.
Secularity… is not added on to our vocation from outside. On the contrary, it receives it fullest meaning from our vocation. Our vocation means that our secular state in life, our ordinary work and our situation in the world, are our only way to sanctification and apostolate.[22] Secularity is something Christian, a Christian way of being and living. In other words, our divine vocation, our spirit – or in broader terms, Christian faith and morality – cannot be judged from the starting-point of a secularity defined a priori. Rather, secularity should be judged and valued – or rather, discovered – from the starting-point of our vocation, and what the Christian faith reveals to us about man, about the world and about our destiny.”[23]

Philosophic Clarifications

The Christian Message is not only Informative but Performative[24]
 The topic of introduction to Theology or the relation of theology and philosophy or faith and reason should begin now, after Vatican II, with the distinction between knowledge as consciousness and knowledge as concept. Consciousness goes with person; concept goes with individual.
Consciousness is the awareness of self as “I” (being and good) after the experience of mastering self, possessing self and giving self (like Adam, in obedience to the Creator, naming the animals and tilling the garden and suddenly feeling “alone” [“the original solitude” as the consciousness of being different from a universe of objects, or Helen Keller naming the water from the pump]. “Experience” is the critical factor in the sense of reality.[25] Therefore, the believing person who experiences herself in the act of going out of self to receive the Word of God (Person of Christ) comes to a consciousness of self as “another Christ” Who is the personification of going out of Self to the Father as Son. Therefore, the act of faith mimics the Trinitarian reality of the Son of God, and makes knowledge possible.
John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) explained the epistemological horizon in which the whole of Vatican II took place: the subject. He 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?”[26] That said, as soon as we enter into the realm of subjects, we enter the realm of consciousness and not concept. He then wrote: “to help towards the realization of Vatican II, we shall concentrate on the consciousness of Christians and the attitudes they should acquire.” That “consciousness” will boil down to being “other Christs,” and therefore sons of God the Father. The “attitude” will boil down to “gift of self,” which is the meaning of Christ as Trinitarian Person.[27]

Current Example of a Failure of Faith to Inform True Freedom: The Fortnight of Liberty: Chaput:  “The purpose of religious liberty is to create the context for true freedom.  Religious liberty is a foundational right.  It’s necessary for a good society.  But it can never be sufficient for human happiness.  It’s not an end in itself.  In the end, we defend religious liberty in order to live the deeper freedom that is discipleship in Jesus Christ.  What good is religious freedom, consecrated in the law, if we don’t then use that freedom to seek God with our whole mind and soul and strength?”[28] The reality is that we still have not addressed the real loss of freedom which is the obedience in the conjugal union as self-gift. The bishops have addressed the institutional and political freedom, but not the freedom of the person as gift in conscience.

[1] J. Ratzinger and Marcello Pera, “Without Roots” Basic Books (2006) 73-74.
[2] Benedict XVI CELAM Aparecida, Brazil May 13, 2007
[3] J. Ratzinger, Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977 Ignatius (1997) 107-109.
[4] J. Ratzinger, “God’s Word,” Ignatius (2008) 52.
[5] J. Ratzinger, “Milestones…” op. cit. 109.
[6] J. Ratzinger, “Thorn in the Flesh,” The Catholic World Report, November 1992 49.
[7] Benedict XVI, Keynote Address, Synod of Bishops on the Word of God, October 6, 2008.
[8] John Paul II, “Veritatis Splendor” #88.
[9] J. Ratzinger, “What Does the Church Believe? The Catholic World Report, March 1993, 27.
[10] “(Becoming a Christian) is a death-event. In other words, it is an exchange of the old subject for another. The ‘I’ ceases to be an autonomous subject standing in itself. It is snatched away from itself and fitted into a new subject. The ‘I’ is not simply submerged, but it must really release its grip on itself in order then to receive itself anew in and together with a greater ‘I;’” J. Ratzinger, “The Nature and Form of Theology,” in  The Nature and Mission of Theology Ignatius (1995) 51. Ratzinger is describing the meaning of faith as the act of conversion away from self such as to effect “I live; no, not I. Christ lives in me” [Gal 2, 20).  One becomes a Christian not just by a change of mind about ideas and opinions, but by a total ontological change in the self to be “for” the Father, and therefore, “another Christ.”
[11] R. Sokolowski, “The God of Faith and Reason,” UNDP (1982) 12.
[12] “Take Planck’s quantum theory. No doubt, you know that when Planck first tackled the subject he had no desire to change classical physics in any serious way. He simply wanted to solve a particular problem, namely the distribution of energy in the spectrum of a black body. He tried to do so in conformity with all the established physical laws, and it took him many years to realize that this was impossible. Only at that stage did he put forward a hypothesis that did not fit into the framework of classical physics, and even then he tried to fill the breach he had made in the old physics with additional assumptions. That proved impossible, and the consequences of Planck’s hypothesis finally led to a radical reconstruction of all physics; Werner Heisenberg, “Physics and Beyond, Encounters and Conversations,” Harper and Row, (1971) 147-148.

[13] J. Ratzinger, “In the Beginning…” Eerdmans (1995) 10-11.
[14] St. Josemaria Escriva “Passionately Loving the World.”
[15] Paul VI, Motu poroprio ‘Sanctitas clarior,’ 19 March 1969, AAS 61 (196) p. 150 in D. Alvaro’s Letter, March 1992, #3.
[16] J. Ratzinger, “Behold the Pierced One,” Ignatius (1986) 25-27.
[17] Mt. 11, 27: But “no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and him to hom the Son chooses to reveal him.” And so, the only way to know the Father is to become the Son, and that takes place by prayer as the way to enter into the relationality of the divine Persons.
[18] Robert Moynihan, “Let God’s Light Shine Forth, The Spiritual Vision of Pope Benedict XVI” Doubleday (2005)
[19]  Benedict XVI “Let God’s Light Shine Forth” ed. Robert Moynihan (2005) 34-35.
[20] J. Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” Ignatius (1990) 131-132.
[21] “Man’s intimate relationship with God in the Holy Spirit also enables him to understand himself, his own humanity, in a new way. Thus that image and likeness of God which man, from his very beginning is full realized. This intimate truth of the human being has to be continually rediscovered in the light of Christ, who is the prototype of the relationship with God There also has to be discovered in Christ the reason for ‘full self-discovery through a sincere gift of himself’ to others…” John Paul II “Dominum et Vivificantem” #59.
[22] St. Josemaria Escriva, Letter, 9 January 1959, 41.
[23] The Prelate of Opus Dei, Letter, 28 November 1995, #20.
[24] Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi #2.
[25] “The first element of experience can be defined as a ‘sense of reality,’ placing the accent on reality – on the fact that something exists with an existence that is real and objectively independent of the cognizing subject and the subject’s cognitive act, while at the same time existing as the object of that act.  Because of this, the structural whole of experience also contains a second element which can be defined as a ‘sense of knowing;’” K. Wojtyla “The Problem of Experience in Ethics” in Person and Community Lang (1993) 115
[26] K. Wojtyla “Sources of Renewal,” Harper and Row (1979) 17.
[27] The conclusion of Wojtyla’s doctoral thesis on “Faith According to St. John of the Cross” (Ignatius [1981] was the absence of concepts as grounding faith as doctrine. Instead of concepts (and dogma) as media between God and the believer, it is the whole self of the believer as loving self-gift (reception) to the revealing Self/Word of Christ.  
[28] Homily for the closing Mass of the Fortnight for Freedom By Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.

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