Monday, December 17, 2012

An Email Exchange With Joe Wood

Joe sends me something very interesting on Vatican II and wishes me "a good Advent." I respond:

   Yes, quite good, and grateful to have received it. A "good Advent" = a "good eschatology" of maranatha rather than a "dies irae," if I read Benedict and St. Josemaria correctly. (That may need explaining but I'll leave it at that). Merry Christmas if connections are disrupted before the 25th. Fr. Bob
Joseph Wood
3:52 PM (20 hours ago)
to me
Are dies irae and maran atha mutually exclusive?
Robert Connor 
10:18 PM (14 hours ago)
To the question as to whether “maranatha” and “Dies Irae” are mutually exclusive?

Dear Joe,

   I suspect the short answer is to be found on pages 8-11 of Ratzinger's "Eschatology." They are mutually exclusive in that maranatha is Christian hope that Christ is present now in my becoming Him in the giftedness of self in work. It is all of Opus Dei. Christ lives (The Way 584 cf. the Rodriguez critical edition). Christ wants to be placed at the summit of all human activities - now
  Dies Irae means that Christ is in the past and in the future. He has gone to heaven and will come at the end of history to exercise the terrible judgment against sin. 

   In the meantime, we are bored, bourgeois, extrinsic, formalistic, living a minimalism and fearful of the final judgment. Ratzinger asks: "However did we arrive at that tedious and tedium-laden Christianity which we moderns observe and, indeed, know from our own experience?” (Ratzinger, p. 8). He asks again: "Isn't this shifting of the axis the real cause of the crisis in Christianity? Hasn't Christianity elected to make the past its preferred moment in time and so deprived itself of the future?" (p. 10). 
   Therefore, the distinction between the two expressions is immense. Fr. Bob
Joseph Wood
7:18 AM (5 hours ago)
to me
Thanks very much, as always.  I had a more limited notion of dies irae, to mean only a final day of judgment when Christ comes at the end of time, as the Catechism describes, and not ruling out the conclusion that we are in the end times since Christ came, that He continues to act, and that through self-giving we are indeed to put Him at the summit of all activities including work, in this beginning of eternal life we now travel through, until that final day.  

A question that continues to interest me, on which many of the Work seem reluctant to comment: does the purpose of the job or task at hand affect our ability to out Christ at its summit?  Many of the jobs we engage in seem aimed at what is essentially rent seeking, or extracting more value from activity (and from creation) than we put in.

Dear Joe,

   "Rent seeking" is to understand the self to be in the down time (desert) before the terrible finale of the "Dies Irae." Could this not be the entire point of the re-mystification of work as the self-given and therefore the activity of work itself as prayer (if intended as service to another), the giftedness of the work itself (and its concomitant quality) and the affirmation and sanctification of the other (apostolate)? Doesn't #6 of "Laborem exercens" explain that work is the act of a subject that actualizes itself (himself) as "gift?" And isn't this the point of "Charitas in Veritate" of BXVI where he says "The great challenge before us, accentuated by the problems of development in this global era and made even more urgent by the economic and financial crisis  is to demonstrate, in thinking and behaviour, not only that traditional principles of social ethics like transparency  honesty and responsibility cannot be ignored or attenuated, but also that in 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. It is a demand both of charity and of truth" (#36).

    Add to this John Paul II's "Letter to Artists" where the work produced is fraught with quality of the person of the artist himself. 

   Isn't the point that Christ becomes incarnate ever again and persistently in my flesh and work within the world (as the subject - me)? and therefore "Maranatha"!! That is I am making him present in the world now – Come, Lord Jesus, Come now! -  and insofar as you and I are at the summit of all human activities, Christ is at the summit of all human activities - which is the deep meaning of “It is Christ passing by.” That is, this whole understanding of the difference of maranatha and "Dies Irae" is the very crisis of Christianity and of the global culture. Having a “good Advent” depends on this.

Fr. Bob

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