Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Texts For Short Presentation of The Year of Faith

Benedict XVI: Year of Faith, October 11, 2012 until the Feast of Christ the King November 24, 2013.

The Meaning of Faith: Vatican II – Dei Verbum #5: “‘The obedience of faith’ (Rom. 16, 26; cf.. Rom. 1, 2; 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….”

Instrumentum Laboris – The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith: Synod of Bishops: 2012.[1]

“18. The Christian faith is not simply teachings, wise sayings, a code of morality or a tradition. The Christian faith is a true encounter and relationship with Jesus Christ. Transmitting the faith means to create in every place and time the conditions which lead to this encounter between the person and Jesus Christ. The goal of all evangelization is to create the possibility for this encounter, which is, at one and the same time, intimate, personal, public and communal. Pope Benedict XVI stated: ‘Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice of a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. (…) Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn, 4, 10), love is now no longer a mere ‘command;’ it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us.’”

Autobiographical Summary of Benedict XVI’s Thesis on Revelation and Faith (1956):

 “I had ascertained that in Bonaventure (as well as in theologians of the thirteenth century) there was nothing corresponding to our conception of ‘revelation’ by which we are normally in the habit of referring to all the revealed contents of the faith: it has even become a part of linguistic usage to refer to Sacred Scripture simply as ‘revelation.’ Such an identification would have been unthinkable in the language of the High Middle Ages. 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… because an essential element of Scripture is the Church as understanding subject, and with this the fundamental sense of tradition is already given…. Michael Schmaus… saw in these theses not at all a faithful rendering of Bonaventure’s thought (however to this day I still affirm the contrary) but a dangerous modernism that had to lead to the subjectivization of the concept of revelation.”[2]

Again in another publication of Ratzinger: “(Y)ou 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 put 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.”[3]

The Realism of the Word of God: Word-Person:
“ (…) (T)he 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. [4]
The Content of the Word of God:

          “As we have seen, the Word of God is the Person of the Son. He is the revelation of the Father. But what is the content of that revelation? Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in 1993: “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. Perhaps this sounds a little abstract; let’s try to develop a little what’s intended by this.

            “One finds in the confessions of faith both the formula ‘I believe’ and the formula ‘we believe.’ Let us speak about the faith of the Church, and let us speak about the personal nature of the faith, and finally let us speak about the faith as a gift from God, as a ‘theological act’ in accordance with an expression that’s current today in theology.

            “What does all this mean? The faith is an orientation [relation] 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 with 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 it is 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 …
“The faith is a disappearing of the simple I and so the resurgence of the true I, a becoming oneself through freeing oneself from the simple I in communion with God, which is mediated through communion with Christ.”[6]

* * * * * * * *
Benedict XVI continues in his labor of moving the Church across the threshold of a consciousness of God by an experience of Christ. This seems to be the one goal of his pontificate: To move the Church to the consciousness and concept that faith and revelation are one subjective act of God revealing Himself, and the whole person of the believer receives Him and becomes Him. More scripturally and concretely: Simon enters into the prayer of Christ to the Father (Lk. 9, 18) and experiences within himself the consciousness that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Mt. 16, 16). For that consciousness to have taken place, Simon had to become rock (Peter) as Christ is “cornerstone” (Acts 11, 4). He had to do what Christ does (and "is"): pray. Like is known by like: Stone is known by rock and confesses: “You are the Christ, Son of the living God” (Mt. 16, 16).

[1] XIII Ordinary General Assembly, Chapter I – Jesus Christ, The Good News of God to Humanity.
[2] J. Ratzinger, “Milestones, Memoirs 1927-1977,” Ignatius (1997) 108-109.
[3] J. Ratzinger, “God’s Word”  Ignatius (2003) 52.
[4] Benedict XVI, Keynote Address – Synod on the Word of God, October 6, 2008.
[5] Benedict XVI  Synod on the Word of God, 10/6/2008.
[6] J. Ratzinger, “What Does the Church Believe?” The Catholic World Report March 1993, 27.

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