Thursday, March 07, 2013

Suggestion of Wojtyla and Ratzinger on the development of Thomism:

Wojtyla: “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?’” In a word, Karol Wojtyla was in search of a metaphysics, concretely the Thomistic metaphysics, that could give an account of subjectivity that is ontological reality precisely as subjectivity, and therefore could give a realist account of the act of faith in accordance with Dei Verbum #5: "By faith man man freely commits his entire self to God." The text then adds "making 'the full submission of his intellect and will to God who reveals'...," which it quotes from Vatican I. But the import of Dei Verbum is not the just the facultative acts of intellect and will, but the whole metaphysical anthropology of the self as being. It means "life." The act of faith is the act of justification and sanctification. 

 Ratzinger strained to clarify that Revelation ("He who sees me, sees the Father" Jn.  is a divine Person Who must be received by the believing person or subject, and that that this reception is a conversion of the whole self into Christ. He speaks about "a death even" (Toronto 1986) in the understanding of Ga; 2, 20: "I live; no, not I. Christ lives in me." He is hard pressed to get across that "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 trough my reading of Bonaventure, were later on very important for 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..." (J. Ratzinger, "Milestones" Ignatius 1997 108-109).

   Or perhaps, even more when he writes that faith is more than just assenting to ideas but that a total gift of self must be involved for it to be "Revelation." He writes: "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 int it, can even understand tat  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." (J. Ratzinger, "God's Word,"Ignatius (2008) 52.

In what we should the mind of St. Thomas be developed?

Joseph Ratzinger: “Here is the problem: 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 call it epochal struggle over how Christianity, over how the Christian responds to modernity, to the challenge of modernity…

            “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, 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 the de-sacralization or profanation are erroneous.

            “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 the 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 part of the Word’s incarnation.”[1]

            What was the key of the Council to heal the reduction of reality and being to consciousness? I repeat:  Wojtyla: “If we study the Conciliar magisterium as a whole, we find that the Pastors fo 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?’”[2] Therefore: Take the metaphysics of St. Thomas and apply it to the believing person as subject - which involves combining the phenomenology of experience which yields the subject "I," and rendering it as the prius of the meaning of Being. Consider how this dovetails with Benedict XVI's keynote address on the realism of the Word (the "I"of the Son of the Father), Who, when received, becomes the revelation of God. The "veil" is removed.

[1] R. Moynihan, “The Spiritual Vision of Pope Benedict XVI – Let God’s Light Shine Forth” Doubleday (2005) 34-36.
[2] K. Wojtyla, “Sources of Renewal” Harper and Row (1979) 17.

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