Thursday, February 06, 2014

Redemption and Co-Redemption

Structure of the Redemptive Act:
I           The Redemption act is intrinsic to man, not extrinsic because it is intrinsic to Christ. Christ has a real human nature and a real human will. Thus: “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (Jn. 6, 38). Ratzinger: “Here the divine Logos is speaking, and speaking of the human will of Jesus in the mode by which he calls his will the will of the Logos.[1] With this exegesis of John 6, 38, the Council proves the unity of the subject. In Jesus there are not two ‘I’s,’ but only one. The Logos speaks of the will and human thought of Jesus using the ‘I.’ This has become his ‘I,’ has been assumed into his ‘I,’ because the human will has become fully one with the will of the Logos, and with it has become pure assent to the will of the Father.”[2]
·         That human will assumed into the divine “I” of the Logos is burdened with all sin: “he made him to be sin who knew nothing of sin, so that we might become the justice of God” (2 Cor. 5, 21).
·         The divine “I” subdues the disobedience in Himself (i.e. in His human will). As God-man, He is the Prototype of man.

·         He makes Himself Gift to the Father using the human will that is prototypical of every human will derived from Adam that was once in rebellious disobedience, and now – in Christ -  is total obedience even to death on the Cross.  


            If Jesus Christ redeems us in His very Self, then we are co-redeemers insofar as we are Christ Himself. St. Josemaria affirms that during Mass on August 7 he heard the words: "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself" and "You are my son (Psalm 2, 7), you are Christ."   With regard to the first, Escriva commented years later that he understood Christ saying those words "not in the sense in which in which Scripture says them. I say [them] to you in the sense that you are to raise me  up in all human activities, in the sense that all over the world there should be Christians with a personal and most free dedication, that they be other Christs."
With regard to the second, he recounted later: the Lord was giving me those blows around the year 31, and I did not understand. And suddenly (de pronto), in the midst of that great bitterness, these words: 'You are my Son (Psalm 2, 7), you are Christ.' And I could only stammer: 'Abba, Pater! Abba, Pater! Abba! Abba! Abba!' Now I see it with new light, like a new discovery, just as one sees, after years have passed, that hand of God, of divine Wisdom, of the All-Powerful One. You've led me, Lord, to understand that to find the Cross is to find happiness, joy. And I see the reason with greater clarity than ever: to find the Cross is to identify oneself with Christ, to be Christ, and therefore to be a son of God.”[3]
Coverdale recounts that “on one occasion he prayed: “The Cross: it is there you find Christ, and you have to lose yourself in him! …You mustn’t say: Lord, I can’t do any more, for I’m so wretched… No! It’s not true! On the Cross, you will be Christ…”[4]
Baptism As Empowering the Image to Action: By Baptism, we are introduced into Christ (divine and human), and as He redeemed His humanity by divinizing it (by raising his human will to the giftedness of His divine “I”) so we “co-redeem” making the gift of ourselves to the Father in the service of others; in a word, by becoming “Christ Himself.”

·                     “I live; no, not I. It is Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2, 20). “Because Christian conversion throws open the frontier between the ‘I’ and the Not-I,’ it can be bestowed upon one only by the ‘not-I’ and can never be achieved solely in the interiority of one’s personal decision. It has a sacramental structure. The ‘I no longer live’ does not describe a private mystical experience but rather defines the essence of baptism. What takes place is a sacramental event, hence, an event involving the Church. The passive side of becoming a Christian calls for the acting Church, in which the unity of believers as a single subject manifests itself in its bodily and historical dimensions….” And again, to understand that the Church is a single subject, the “I” of Christ, Ratzinger marshals the text from 1 Cor. 12, 12 that one would think to say: “as in an organism there are many members working in harmony, so too in the Church.” But it doesn’t. It says rather: “so it is with Christ.” “The term of the comparison is not the Church, since according to Paul, the Church is in no wise a separate subject endowed with its own subsistence. The new subject is much rather ‘Christ’ himself, and the Church is nothing but the space of this new unitary subject, which is, therefore, much more than mere social interaction.”[5]
·         The Sacrifice of the Mass: If the redemptive act is the divine “I” mastering His human will and making the gift of Himself on the Cross, this act is the prototype and summation of all His acts and the meaning of all work. And it is this very same act which is the Sacrifice of the Mass. Calvary is the work of Christ, and the Mass is the prototypical meaning of work. Hence, Christian anthropology, the “priestly soul” and the anthropology of work as self-mastery, self-possession, self-gift are all the same. Ascetically at the moment of Mass, Escriva found himself often exhausted and was not able to finish.
This being gift of self to the Father for us occurs on three levels:
Teacher: Christ lives this gift of self as speaking the Word, which is Himself. Since He, Himself, as Word (Truth: perfect conformity between Himself and the Father (“I and the Father are one” [Jn. 10, 30. “My teaching is not my teaching, but that of the Father who sent me {Jn. 7, 16}]). “Jesus is ‘word’, and thus it becomes clear that his teaching is he himself…. Thus here again the concept of mere substance (= what stands in itself!) is shattered and it is made apparent how being that truly understands itself grasps at the same time that in its self-being it does not belong to itself; that is only comes to itself by moving away from itself and find its way back as relatedness to its true primordial state.”[6]
        To see this dynamically, see Francis’ “Joy of Evangelizing,” Chapter III #110 - #185. The point is to speak Christ, one must become Christ the Word. The kerygma: Christ has risen, Christ lives, Christ loves you, Christ is with you… “must ring out over and over…. (I)t is the principal proclamation, the one which we must hear again and again in different ways, the one which we must announce one way or another throughout the process of catechesis, at every level and moment.” EG #164.

Priest: As seen above in the structure of the redemptive act, Christ mediates between Himself (as One of us and all material creation [the extension of His humanity]), and the Father on the Cross, (which is the Mass). That is, Christ – the divine “I” -  mediates between Himself (His human will and total humanity and the entire material universe) and the Father for us. This is the meaning of priesthood in Christ, and as God-man, it is the central act of the universe.  And we are baptized into this priesthood (which is the redemptive act), and therefore, we are co-redeemers. Consider “priestly soul” as this mediation in everything we do, and the “lay mentality” of the freedom by mastering self.
King  - by Work:  By mastering Himself to serve us, He masters all created reality. Here is the meaning of work, as key to not only subduing the earth, but also to subduing myself and becoming “King” (Ipse Christus)  of myself This is key to the understanding of man as co-redeemer[7]:
John Paul II: “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 all 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 being meditated upon here refers not only to the objective dimension of work but at the same time introduces us to an understanding of its subjective dimension. Understood as a process whereby man and the human race subdue the earth, work corresponds to this basic biblical concept only when throughout the process man manifests himself and confirms himself as the one who dominates.’ 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. In fact there is no doubt that human work has an ethical value of it is own, which clearly and directly remains linked to the fact that the one who carries it out is a person, a conscious and free subject, that is to say, a subject that decides about himself.”[8]
3)   Karol Wojtyla: The Philosophical Account of Gaudium et Spes #24:  “When I am directed by an act of will toward a particular value, I myself not only determine this directing, but through it I simultaneously determine myself as well. The concept of self-determination involves more than just the concept of efficacy: I am not only the efficient cause of my acts, but through them I am also in some sense the ‘creator of myself.’ Action accompanies becoming [of me], moreover, action is organically linked to becoming. Self-determination, therefore, and not just the efficacy of the personal self, explains the reality of moral values [i.e. when you determine yourself to go out of yourself in service to another, you experience the value “good” because you are making yourself “good.”]: it explains the reality that by my actions I become ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ and that then I am also ‘good’ or ‘bad’ as a human being – as St. Thomas so eminently perceived. If we were to stop at an analysis of the will as an intentional act, acknowledging only its horizontal transcendence, then this realism of moral values, this good and evil in the human being, would be completely inexplicable.”[9]
4) Pope Francis, when asked about his experience with unemployed people, answered: “They don’t feel like they really  exist. No matter how much help they might have from their family or friends, they want to work, they want to earn their daily bread with the sweat from their own brow. The thing is, at the end of the day, work anoints a person with dignity. Dignity is not conferred by one’s ancestry, family life, or education. Dignity as such comes solely from work. We eat with what we earn, we support our families with what we earn. It doesn’t matter if it’s a little or a lot. If it’s more, all the better. We can own a fortune, but if we don’t work, our dignity plummets.”[10]

 * * * * * *

Our Need to be Redeemed: Deep Cause: sin, and the turning back on self.
Having sinned, man cannot redeem himself. As a constitutively relational being, he needs to be engendered (as the Son is engendered by the Father) into the act of self-transcendence by the divine reality of Love (Agape). “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…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 are alive’ sinks, with life itself, deep into the core of the unconscious – then birth itself is interrupted; existence itself is not completely established.”[11]
                If we are not affirmed (i.e. positively related to), we have no experience of being persons – and since God alone is “good”[12] as person(s), we do not experience being good. This is not the consciousness of “goodness,” but being “good.” Goodness is the intrinsic, essential, constitutive meaning of being. Only God is “good.” And we are “good” insofar as we image the divine Person of the Son. And that imaging is the very way in which we are made. Genesis 1, 26 says: “let us make mankind in our image and likeness.” And John Paul II writes: “God creates by the power of his word: ‘Let there be…!’ [Gen. 1, 26]. Significantly, in the creation of man this word of God is followed by these other words: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’ Gen. 1, 26). Before creating man, the Creator withdraws as it were into himself, in order to seek the pattern and inspiration in the mystery of his Being, which is already here disclosed as the divine ‘We.’ From this mystery the human being comes forth by an act of creation: ‘God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him,; male and female he created them’ (Gen. 1, 27).
Pope Francis nails the problem and the task: “The Church is called to come out of herself and to go to the peripheries… geographical but also the existential peripheries…. When the Church does not come out of herself to evangelize, she becomes self-referential and then gets sick.”[13]
The Sickness: a Church that is trapped in herself: “the biggest threat of all… ‘the gray pragmatism of the daily life of the Church, in which all appears to proceed normally, while in reality faith is wearing down and degenerating into small-mindedness.’ A tomb psychology thus develops and slowly transforms Christians into mummies in a museum. Disillusioned with reality, with the Church and with themselves, they experience a constant temptation to cling to a faint melancholy, lacking in hope, which seizes the heart like ‘the most precious of the devil’s potions’” (Bernanos, “Diary of a Country Priest”).[14]

                Profile of Modernity:  a rationalistic, objectifying, controlling, rule based individualism that warehouses the aged (mothballs in their pockets) which pervades the Western culture in which we all live, move and have our being. 
Conrad Baars, M.D.: Emotional Deprivation Disorder: Characteristics: “feelings of inferiority and inadequacy, inability to establish normal rapport with one’s peers and form lasting friendships, feelings of loneliness and insecurity, doubts about one’s self-worth and identity, fear of the adult world, and often deep depressions. Although the energetic among them are able to succeed in business or profession, they fail in their personal lives. If married, they find it impossible to relate in a spontaneous and emotionally satisfying way with spouse and children. In matters of faith, dullness prevails as their feelings cannot participate in their spiritual life. Their religious experience is neither ‘a burden that is light,’ nor ‘a yoke that is sweet.’ Their psychosexual immaturity may express itself in various ways, for instance, in masturbation, pornography, homosexuality, sexual impotence or frigidity…

Cause of EDD: an inadequate feeling of self-worth. And this is the key to it all: “The source of the feeling of self-worth is always another person – the ‘significant other’ – who can either give or withhold it. The process whereby a person receives his or her feeling of self-worth from the ‘significant other’ is for every human being a bonum fundamentale. In a very special relationship with the significant other, the person is seen and experienced by the other as good, worthwhile and lovable. The pleasure of the approving and loving other is perceived in such a manner that the person literally feels this through his or her entire being.[15][16]

Persons Related to by Affirmation: “can be said to have received the gift of themselves. They feel worthwhile, significant and lovable. They possess themselves as man or woman. They know who they are. They are certain of their identity. They love themselves unselfishly. They are open to all that is good and find joy in the same. They are able to affirm all of creation, and as affirmers of all beings are capable o f making others happy and joyful, too. They are largely other-directed. They find joy in being and doing for others. The find joy in their love relationship with their Creator. They can share and give of themselves, be a true friend to others, and feel at ease with persons of both sexes. They are capable of finding happiness in marinate of the freely chosen celibate state of life. They are free from psycho-pathological factors which hamper one’s free will and are therefore sully responsible – morally and legally – for their actions.”[17]

                But something more has to happen. We are made “in the image,” but we are not in act as image until we are related to by God’s Love, and enabled to go out of ourselves by the free act of self-giving.  At that point, we are at peace and experience ourselves as who we really are. We are able to love ourselves correctly. If we do not have this correct self-love, we will be constantly trying to prove that we are good. Regarding Unaffirmed persons, Dr. Conrad Baars writes:
“Unaffirmed persons can be said to have been born only once; their second or psychological birth never took place (or, since it is a protracted process, was never complete). They were not made to know and feel their own goodness, worth and identity. They have been thrown back upon themselves by denial on the part of significant others in their life. They are like prisoners – locked in, lonely, and self-centered – waiting for someone to come and open the door of their prison, waiting to be opened to their own goodness and that of others. No measure of success in business, profession or otherwise can adequately compensate for their feelings of inferiority, inadequacy, uncertainty and insecurity. Both the married life and the celibate life accentuate the fundamental loneliness of these persons and their inability to relate to others as equals. Their spiritual life suffers as time goes on, and their basically joyless way of life changes more and more to a state of depression until death seems the only way out.

                “Most importantly, unaffirmed persons have only one concern and need: to become affirmed, to be loved for who they are and not for what they do. They are literally driven to find someone who truly, unequivocally loves them. This is in marked contrast to affirmed individuals who look for someone with whom they can share their love, who can give love as well as receive, who can wait and are not hurried, driven, or compelled to find someone who will love them. If affirmation by a significant other is not forthcoming, many unaffirmed persons wells use their talents, intelligence and energy to try to convince themselves and the world in a variety of ways that they are worthwhile, important and significant, even though they don’t feel that they are. The most common ways of doing this are by the acquisition, display and use of material goods, wealth, power, fame, honor, status symbols, or sex.”[18]

                This psychological insight has the following metaphysical underpinnings: “morality as a value has objective meaning in and through the human being and that there is no way to apprehend this meaning apart from the categories of being and becoming: esse and  fieri. In other words, moral good is that through which the human being as a human being becomes and is good, and moral evil that through which the human being as a human being becomes and is evil. This becoming (fieri) resides in the dynamism of human action (actus humanus); it cannot be properly objectified on the basis of consciousness alone, but only on the basis of the human being as a conscious being. It follows, too, that good or evil as a property of a conscious being is itself also a being and not just a content of consciousness. This does not, however, obscure the fact that it – good or evil – is, at the same time, a content of consciousness that it is given in lived experience as a specific value, namely, moral value. Proceeding from the two different orientations in philosophy, it seems that we can arrive in the theory of morality at a complementary view of this same reality. Moral value points directly to that through which the human being as a human being is good or evil.”[19]

        The Redemption of Helen Keller by Ann Sullivan: “One day, while I was playing with my new doll, Miss Sullivan put my big rag doll into my lap also, spelled "d-o-l-l" and tried to make me understand that "d-o-l-l" applied to both. Earlier in the day we had had a tussle over the words "m-u-g" and "w-a-t-e-r."
                    “Miss Sullivan had tried to impress it upon me that "m-u-g" is mug and that "w-a-t-e-r" is water, but I persisted in confounding the two. In despair she had dropped the subject for the time, only to renew it at the first opportunity. I became impatient at her repeated attempts and, seizing the new doll, I dashed it upon the floor. I was keenly delighted when I felt the fragments of the broken doll at my feet. Neither sorrow nor regret followed my passionate outburst. I had not loved the doll. In the still, dark world in which I lived there was no strong sentiment or tenderness. I felt my teacher sweep the fragments to one side of the hearth, and I had a sense of satisfaction that the cause of my discomfort was removed. She brought me my hat, and I knew I was going out into the warm sunshine. This thought, if a wordless sensation may be called a thought, made me hop and skip with pleasure.
                    “We walked down the path to the well-house, attracted by the fragrance of the honeysuckle with which it was covered. Someone was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly, then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten--a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that "w-a-t-e-r" meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free! There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that could in time be swept away.
                    “I left the well-house eager to learn. Everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought. As we returned to the house every object which I touched seemed to quiver with life. That was because I saw everything with the strange, new sight that had come to me. On entering the door I remembered the doll I had broken. I felt my way to the hearth and picked up the pieces. I tried vainly to put them together. Then my eyes filled with tears; for I realized what I had done, and for the first time I felt repentance and sorrow.”
                I maintain that it is not the “idea” of water, but her interior action of “naming” the water, such as Adam naming the animals and suddenly feeling “alone” [John Paul II’s “original solitude”[20]]. Naming the water is an act of the subject “I,” not the operation of a faculty (“intellect”) abstracting a universal idea from sense data. This action is the free moral act of self-transcendence that activates the image of God as Subject. Helen went through the act of “becoming herself” as described in Gaudium et spes #24: “man, the only earthly being God has willed for itself, finds himself by the sincere gift of himself.”
                Richard Rohr: “Naming the ‘Father Hunger:’” “…men have lost the ability to pass on the wisdom and experience of their life and who they are. All they know how to do is pass on roles, money and opinions, but not who they are. I would see that as the single greatest lack of power, dysfunction and disability in civilization today…. By ‘father hunger’ I mean the profound, but usually unconscious longing for affirmation and limits from male authority figures. The most common words people use to describe their relationships with their fathers are ‘absence,’ ‘sadness’ and ‘I don’t know him.’ Men have not been given the permission on the skills to pass on who they are to their children. We often know what makes Fathers angry, but not the deep desires and dreams of their hearts, much less their loneliness and hurt. That vacuum creates a similar emptiness in the hearts of sons and daughters. Dad is an unnamable mystery, which only calls forth fear, doubt and sometimes endless rebellion…. I do believe that father hunger is at least intrinsically involved in such diverse phenomena as military and athletic bonding, prostitution and addiction to success and power, some expressions of homosexuality, gangs and male aggression, many women’s acquiescence to sexism, and the practice today in otherwise intelligent groups of ‘killing the leader’…Men need to realize – and this is going to sound very old-fashioned – that striving for sex, prestige and possessions is, in most cases, a refusal to walk the spiritual journey. Instead of competing within themselves for wholeness and authenticity, men have allowed their souls to be projected outward in terms of their preoccupation with getting a woman and getting money, which is a source of power. Men think ‘If only I can obtain them, then I’m going to be happy.’ Men need to be told that is utterly false. They have to be convinced that this obsession with money, sex and power is going to get them nowhere in terms of the spiritual life…. Males have been excluded and we have excluded ourselves from the most important things of all: family, spirituality, emotions and feelings, personal growth and the soul. We have been cut off from the very things for which humanity was created. Women should affirm us for the right reasons, and challenge us for the right reasons.”[21]

St. Josemaria Escriva, “Father:” “Genuit filios and filias.” His mission is to engender sons and daughters as laity and priests to make the gift of self forming a communio personarum. That “communio” must be the unum of the communio priests serving laity and laity affirming priests that is the “little bit of the Church” that Opus Dei is. Without his love, and that of all the Prelates, the gift of self would not be able to take place.

John Paul II: - affirms and engenders life into priests by going to confession to them. One case is the beggar priest in Rome brought in to dinner with the Pope. After going to confession to him kneeling at the dinner table, he announced that he would be the assistant pastor in one of the churches in Rome. The other is in Krakow: “Wojtyla disciplined young priests in a distinctive way. He once had to call in an assistant pastor who had committed what the priest later recalled as a “serious misdemeanor.” In a lengthy session in his office, Wojtyla told the curate in no uncertain terms about the gravity of the offense and reprimanded him severely. The cardinal then led the young priest into his chapel so they could pray. The older man knelt so long that the curate became nervous. His train was scheduled to leave shortly to take him back to his parish. Finally, Cardinal Wojtyla stood up, looked at the young man he had just chastised, and said, ‘Would you please hear my confession now?’  Stunned, the assistant pastor went to the confessional, where Wojtyla confessed before him.”[22]

Redemption: “Before his conversion, Paul had not been a man distant from God and from his Law. On the contrary, he had been observant, with an observance faithful to the point of fanaticism. In the light of the encounter with Christ, however, he understood that with this he had sought to build up himself and his own justice, and that with all this justice he had lived for himself.
He realized that a new approach in his life was absolutely essential. And we find this new approach expressed in his words: "The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2: 20).
Paul, therefore, no longer lives for himself, for his own justice. He lives for Christ and with Christ: in giving of himself, he is no longer seeking and building himself up. This is the new justice, the new orientation given to us by the Lord, given to us by faith.
Before the Cross of Christ, the extreme expression of his self-giving, there is no one who can boast of himself, of his own self-made justice, made for himself! Elsewhere, re-echoing Jeremiah, Paul explains this thought, writing, "Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord" (I Cor 1: 31 = Jer 9: 23-24ff.); or: "Far be it from me to glory except in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Gal 6: 14).”[23]
Jesus Descent into Hell: The Fourth Lateran Council: “He (Jesus Christ) descended into hell… but he descended with his soul.” Ratzinger: “In Jesus’ death-cry, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ (Mark 15, 34), the mystery of Jesus’ descent into hell is illuminated as if in a glaring flash of lightning on a dark night. We must not forget that these words of the crucified Christ are the opening lines of one of Israel’s prayers (Ps. 22 [21], 2)… In this last prayer of Jesus, as in the scene on the Mount of Olives, what appears as the innermost heart of his passion is not any physical pain but radical loneliness, complete abandonment. But in the last analysis what comes to light here is simply the abyss of loneliness of man in general, man who is alone in his innermost being. This loneliness, which is usually thickly overlaid but is nevertheless the true situation of man, is at the same time in fundamental contradiction with the nature of man, who cannot exist alone; he needs company. That is why loneliness is the region of fear, which is rooted in the exposure of a being that must exist but is pushed out into a situation which he cannot endure.”
                But Christ has risen! Let this be the background understanding of the cultural situation we are in at the present time where we are mired in a solipsistic individualism – a technological loneliness – where we speak and connect with each other through various layers of media, desperately alone and with only morality to save us. This is the target of Pope Francis who is calling us to the transcendence of sanctity and the courage of the adventure to announce the risen and ascended Christ Who is at our side: Mane nobiscum Domine! Maranatha! Let’s go!

Completion of Redemption: Ascension into Heaven
Ratzinger explains that the redemption of humanity takes place immediately in the assumption of the human nature of Jesus of Nazareth into the divine Person of the Son. He writes that “human nature, the humanity in which we all share, has entered into the inner life of God in a new and hitherto unheard of way.  It means that man has found an everlasting place in God. Heaven is not a place beyond the stars, but something much greater, something that requires far more audacity to assert: Heaven means that man now has a place in God… Thus Jesus himself is what we call ‘heaven;’ heaven is not a place but a person, the person of him in whom God and man are forever and, inseparably one. And we go to heaven and enter into heaven to the extent that we go to Jesus Christ and enter into him. In this sense, ‘ascension into heaven’ can be something that takes place in our everyday lives.”[24] This explains why the disciples returned to Jerusalem “with great joy.” They could not rejoice if the Ascension had been a departure from “life.” “No, in their eyes the Ascension and the Resurrection were one and the same event. This event gave them the certainty that the crucified Jesus was alive; that he had overcome death, which cuts man off from God, the Living One; and that the door to eternal life was henceforth forever open,”[25] and that His return had already begun.  Thus the kerygma: He lives!

And this revamps the entire present understanding of eschatology as an absence of Christ now  awaiting the Second Coming,  a secularism in which God is dead. Rather Christ, resurrected and ascended, is present in each baptized person as called to be “ipse Christus,” now. Christ is present in this world right now (besides sacramentally as Eucharist) in you and me. This understanding puts us squarely into the mindset and soulset of pope Francis who is calling us out of “self-referentiality” to go to the “peripheries.” The “order” of life is Christ, the pre-existent and eternal prototype of the human person, who is present to us now, not extrinsically and externally, but intrinsically and internally as our very selves, and who we continue to become by going out of ourselves. Truth is person, the moral law is self-transcendence, the attitude is joy, the order is free and seemingly chaotic, secular and autonomous. But somehow it “works” like a gigantic rock with immense excresences balancing on a pin-point. It demands another epistemological horizon to be glimpsed, that of the subject “I” in motion, and not reducible to an orderly mechanistic and objective symmetry.
It is all coming to fulfill what Escriva heard on that 7th of August of 1931, the text of Jn. 12, 32: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all things to myself,” but not in the sense that He will draw us out of the world. Rather, it was given to Escriva to understand that the promise to Abraham would be fulfilled in that the sons and daughters of his faith would be as numerous as the stars of the heavens and the sand of the beach; that they would be obedient to death, and therefore, “other Christs, Christ Himself,” and the kingdom of God, thus, a reality. Thus the seal given to him on that 14th of February of 1943: Christ Crucified within the world.

R. Connor

[1] This sentence is the whole of the theology of redemption.
[2] J. Ratzinger, “Journey to Easter,” Crossroad (1987) 101-102.
[3] J. Coverdale, “Uncommon Faith,” Scepter (2002) 93.
[4] Ibid 94.
[5] J. Ratzinger, “The Spiritual Basis and Ecclesial Identity of Theology,” The Nature and Missiopn of Theology Ignatius (1995) 50-55.
[6] J. Ratzinger, “introduction to Christianity,” Ignatius (1990) 137.
[7] And our Father’s understanding of the Jn. 12, 32: “When I am lifted up…,” i.e. to put Christ at the summit of all human work and human doing. That is, one becomes more self as one goes out of self on the occasion of work and the effect that this has on work itself. The process of becoming more oneself = becoming more Christ, since we are made in His image and likeness. This is the import of GS #24.  
[8] John Paul II, “Laborem Exercens,” #6.
[9] K. Wojtyla “The Personal Structure of Self-Determination,” Person and Community Lang (1993) 191-192.
[10] Ambrogetti and Rubin, “Pope Francis, His Life in His Own Words,” Putnam (2010) 15-16.
[11] J. Ratzinger, “Principles of Catholic Theology,” Ignatius (1987) 79-80. This thought is taken from Joseph Pieper’s “Faith , Hope, Love,” Ignatius (1997) 207 et seq.
[12] “No one is good but only God,” Mk. 10, 18.
[13] Pre-conclave speech (March 12, 2013).
[14] EG #81-86.
[15] Note that John Paul II, writing to Teresa Heydel, remarked: “Everyone… lives, above all, for love. The ability to love authentically, not great intellectual capacity, constitutes the deepest part of a personality. It is no accident that the greatest commandment is to love. Authentic love leads us outside ourselves to affirming others.”  A month later, he wrote: “After many experiences and a lot of thinking, I am convinced that the (objective) starting point of love is the realization that I am needed by another. The person who objectively needs me most is also, for me, objectively, the person I most need. This is a fragment of life’s deep logic… The great achievement is always to see values that others don’t see and to affirm them. The even greater achievement is to bring out of people the values that would perish without us. In the same way, we bring our values out in ourselves” (G. Weigel, “Witness to Hope” Cliffside Books [1999] 101-102].
[16] C. Baars, “I Will Give Them a New Heart” St Pauls (2008) 12.
[17] Ibid 190.
[18] Ibid 190-191.
[19] K. Wojtyla, “The Problem of the Theory of Morality,” Person and Community Land (1993) 159.
[20] JPII, TOB Waldstein DSP (2006) #5,6,7.
[21] St. Anthony Messenger, October 1990, pp. 15-19.
[22] G. Weigel, “Witness to Hope,” Cliffside Books, (1999) 194.
[23] Benedict XVI, General Audience, Wednesday, 8 November 2006.
[24] J. Ratzinger, “Dogma and Preaching,” Franciscan Herald Press (1985) 63.
[25] Ibid

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