Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane "Sandy" and the Year of Faith

What does a hurricane have to do with the Year of Faith? Everything! And this because the event of the hurricane awakens us from the boredom and monotony of quotidian boilerplate work- performance punctuated by the trivial titillation of interconnected pseudo interpersonalism via hand-held gagetry -  to a sudden discovery of the persons around you with whom you find that you really have something in common: a hurricane.

The Year of Faith has been called to shake us out of the acedia that has numbed us into being accustomed to the absence of Jesus Christ in this parched eschatological desert that stretches from the Ascension to the Parousia without a blip of intimacy with Him. Cardinal Ratzinger once asked: “However did we arrive at that tedious and tedium-laden Christianity which we moderns observe and, indeed, know from our own experience?[1] Ultimately we have lost the experience of Christ, the personal intimacy with Him, the internal reception of Him as Our Lady at the Annunciation. This must be regained.

                In both cases, the “I” is unengaged. There is work, there are performances, there is liturgy, there are prayers, there are plans of life, but the “I” is unengaged. And when unengaged, joyless.  There are pleasures, there is happiness, but there is no joy. As Ratzinger commented in the context of the nature of joy: “The root of man’s joy is the harmony he enjoys with himself. He lives in this affirmation. And only one who can accept himself can also accept the thou, can accept the world. The reason why an individual cannot accept the thou, cannot come to terms with him, is that he does not like his own I and, for that reason, cannot accept a thou.

                “Something strange happens here. We have seen that the inability to accept one’s I leads to the inability to accept a thou. But how does one go about affirming, assenting to, one’s I? The answer may perhaps be unexpected: WE cannot do so by our own efforts alone. Of ourselves, we cannot come to terms with ourselves. Our I becomes acceptable to us only if it has first become acceptable to another I. We can love ourselves only if we have first been loved by someone else. The life a mother gives to her child is not just physical life; she gives total life when she takes the child’s tears and turns them into smiles. It is only when life has been accepted and is perceived as accepted that it becomes also acceptable. Man is that strange creature that needs not just physical birth but also appreciation if he is to subsist. This is the root of the phenomenon known as hospitalism. When the initial harmony of our existence has been rejected, when that psycho-physical oneness has been ruptured by which the ‘Yes, it is good that you alive’ sinks, with life itself, deep into the core of the unconscious – then birth itself is interrupted; existence itself is not completely established… If an individual is to accept himself, someone must say to him: ‘It is good that you exist’ - must say it, not with words, but with that act of the entire being that we call love. For it is the way of love to will the other’s existence and, at the same time, to bring that existence forth again. The key to the I lies with the thou; the way to the thou leads through the I.”[2]


[1] J. Ratzinger, “Eschatology,” CUA (1988) 8.
[2] J. Ratzinger, “Principles of Catholic Theology,” Ignatius (1987) 79-80.

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