Reflections on the Teaching of Vatican II Through the Magisterium of John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis
Thursday, April 09, 2015
LIFE OF CHILDHOOD
Lorenzo Albazete: “Younger than Sin”
Children in the eternal Child
"In his last book, Balthasar grounds the teaching of Jesus about "becoming like children" in order to enter the kingdom in Christ's own experience as the eternal Child of the Father. He is the "archetypical Child who has his abode in the Father's bosom." His "identity is inseparable from his being a child in the bosom of the Father." In an essay in the collection Homo creatus est, Balthasar explains that since in Jesus processio and missio are identical, his "being a Child" remains always present "within" his adult decision to follow this will of the Father and none other. Thus throughout his earthly life this childlike attitude is preserved, even at the moment of abandonment on the Cross when he asks the Father: "Why?" This is a child's question, Balthasar notes, and the Wisdom of God at this moment is a Child who for the moment is unable to receive a reply. The mission of Jesus, identical with his procession, is precisely to introduce men and women into his "coming forth" from the Father. Thus they become children in the Child, empowered by the Spirit to say Abba (cf. Rom 8:15ff.). This is not a metaphor; as Balthasar insists, it is the most intimate reality of the gospel."
[Blogger: Look at the depth of this observation!! Since the divine Person of the Son is nothing but relation to the Father (there is no "substance" as in-istselfness here) here), He is eternally Gift to the Father. "Being" the Son can be nothing but Giving. His "I" is "Giving" to the Father.
How does Ratzinger describe Son?
Son As Son
“The Son as Son, and in so far as
he is Son, does not proceed in any way from himself and so is completely one
with the Father; since he is nothing beside him, claims no special position of
his own, confronts the Father with nothing belonging only to him, retains no
room for his own individuality, therefore he is completely equal to the Father.
The logic is compelling: if there is nothing in which he is just he, no kind of
fenced-off private ground, then he coincides with the Father, is ‘one’ with
him. It is precisely this totality of interplay that the word ‘Son’ aims at
expressing. To John ‘Son’ means being-from-another; thus with this word he
defines the being of this man as being from another and for others, as a being
that is completely open on both sides, knows no reserved area of the mere ‘I.’
When it thus becomes clear that the being of Jesus as Christ is a completely
open being, a being ‘from’ and ‘towards,’ that nowhere clings to itself and
nowhere stands on its own, then it is also clear at the same time that this
being is pure relation (not substantiality0 and, as pure relation, pure unity.
This fundamental statement about Christ becomes, as we have seen, at the same
time the explanation of Christian existence. To John, being a Christian means
being like the Son, becoming a son; that is, not standing on one’s own and in
oneself, but living completely open in the ‘from’ and ‘towards.’ In so far as
the Christian is a ‘Christian,’ this is true of him. And certainly such
utterances will make him aware to how small an extent he is a Christian.”
Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” Ignatius (1990) 134.
* * * * * * * *
"This enables Balthasar to say that in this truth it is possible tosurpass the opposition between playfulness and seriousness. For God nothing is more serious than the creation of the world through the predestination of Christ. Yet Scripture shows the Wisdom of God expressing this as a playful occasion: "Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth . . . then I was daily his delight, rejoicing [lit. "playing"] before him always, rejoicing [playing] in his inhabited world and delighting in the sons of men" (cf. Prov 9:29ff.). A game, says Balthasar, leading to the flagellation and the crown of thorns, which, for all their horrifying seriousness, are part of the same plan. Childhood and death, at least the death of a believer, are close to each other. It is a matter of handing oneself totally to the Other, the Father from whom all life comes. The child is born totally naked in body and spirit, entirely abandoned to the mystery of the Father. All that occurs between birth and death covers this radical dependence. Death brings it to light. For Christ all is always clearly coming from the Father eternally and returning to him eternally, at each single moment, always this "sacred game" which all are invited to join becoming "like children."
The result of this kind of life is an enthusiastic and firm commitment to the reality of the world, of the here and now, of the concrete. Balthasar notes how the ancient wise thinkers, such as Socrates or Laotse, grew old and considered it "wisdom" to withdraw serenely from the illusions of the world, from its dramatic condition, from its passions, from the bluntness of the flesh and its fierce demands. Aging brought about this detachment. Not so with Jesus, who died a young man. It is as if the truth of his identity as the eternal Child of the Father would prevent him from aging. And the death of Jesus was precisely an insertion into the very heart of the drama of earthly life with its conflicts and passions. The purpose of the death of Jesus was not to escape the demands of the flesh, but to redeem the flesh. His death was an embrace of all that is earthly. Does not the Wisdom of God appear as foolishness to the "wise" (cf. 1 Cor 1:25-27)?
There is a concept in John Paul II's "Catechesis on Human Love" which captures this attitude, this ethos, this devotion to reality which ties the "youthfulness of childhood" to the state of original innocence, to the fruit of redemption, and to eschatological life. It is the concept of spontaneity.
"Spontaneity emerges within the discussion about the "ethical" and the "erotic." In the state of original innocence, the two are inseparable. Ethos becomes the "constituent form of eros" during the experience of the nuptial meaning of the body (CHL, 11/12/80), a "subjectively beatifying experience," a grace-filled experience, the experience of original innocence. In the case of sexual activity, it is the fear of many that ethical concerns are often opposed to what is spontaneously erotic. This fear reveals that the nuptial meaning of the body has not been fully interiorized by the one who is afraid. Such a fear, explains John Paul II, is due to a rupture between the "exterior" and "interior man." The failure to grasp the nuptial meaning of the body occurs in the interior man; it is a failure in interiority, indeed, it is the lack, so to speak, of sufficient interiority, the lack of depth (CHL, 11/12/80).
"Man must learn to experience the nuptial meaning of the body as an experience of interiority, an experience in the "heart." It is a matter of learning how to "discern and judge the various movements of the heart" (CHL, 11/12/80). Indeed true spontaneity is the outcome of such interiority, one that fully resonates to the truth signified by the experience "in the heart" of the body as masculine or feminine. Spontaneity thus arises out of a true grasping of the real, that is, of the meaning or ethos of nature, of the flesh. A man or woman without interiority cannot perceive meanings. He or she can perceive only functions, numbers, abstractions. His or her relationships are purely "external," interchangeable, commercial, utilitarian. The "spontaneity" of the "external man" is none other than animal instinct, or worse, the response of a robot when its circuits are activated. Lacking self-possession and self-control, such a person lacks the ability to grasp the "ethos of the gift." Blind to the experience of gift, such a person recognizes only "impulses" to which she or he responds with built-in, programmed reactions. That person is not truly free. And this can almost be seen in that person's bodily gestures, lacking in authenticity, precisely in spontaneity. Instead, in the case of original innocence retrieved through redemption as the anticipation of eschatological fulfillment, "the human heart becomes a participant, so to speak, in another spontaneity, of which 'carnal man' knows nothing or very little" (CHL, 11 /12/80).
[Blogger: Charles Taylor explains that Descartes rid the world of experience and therefore, meaning and therefore "spontaneity" by demanding the subjectivist certainty of the clear and distinct idea.
“The normal, unreflecting person thinks of colour in
the dress or tingling in the foot. The real ontological locus of all these,
Descartes asserts, is in the mind. They are all ideas, which are, indeed,
brought about by certain properties of dress, candy, tooth, foot, but their
place is in the mind.
To see things
this way is to have a clear and distinct understanding of them. But this
involves withdrawing from our normal way of being in the world. As we live
normally through them, our experiences of the red dress of a toothache are the
ways in which these objects are there for us. The red dress is present for me,
through my seeing it; the tooth insistently clamours that it is in pain.
I attend to the object through the experience… What Descartes calls on us to do
is to stop living `in’ and `through’ the experience, to treat it itself as an
object, or what is the same thing, as an experience which could just as well
have been someone else’s.” In a word, the “I” is withdrawn as the subject
of experience and “disengaged” from reality. The reality that the “I”
experiences is replaced by consciousness of a clear and distinct idea. Taylor
“Once we disengaged and no longer
live in our experience, then some supposition has to be involved to take up the
interpretive slack, to supply an account in the place of the one we are
that the whole process consists in getting control over the ambiguity of
the real world. “Instead of being swept along to error by the ordinary bent
of our experience, we stand back from it, withdraw from it, reconstruct it
objectively, and then learn to draw defensible conclusions from it. To wrest
control from `our appetites and our preceptors,’ we have to practice a kind of
radical reflexivity. We fix experience in order to deprive it of its power, a
source of bewitchment and error”]
 Charles Taylor, Sources
of the Self, Harvard (2001) 162.
"To repeat, it is not only in sexual life that "innocence" leads to spontaneity; it is in all human activity, in an authentic human praxis. In the area of human development of the resources of the earth for life, the area of work, the opposite of spontaneity is that alienation which Marx saw but did not understand. Lacking that spontaneity which is the expression of an authentic interiority, alienated man manipulates, forces, and destroys reality, contented with the artificial. Culture, which comes from colere, "cultivating" or "tilling the earth" (human dominion according to Genesis), becomes the culture of the artificial, of the purely functional, of the replaceable, the "culture of death" described in John Paul II's encyclical Evangelium Vitae.
"Such is the spontaneity with which the country priest confronts the countess in Bernanos's novel and brings about her conversion. Towards the end of the novel (and of the priest's life), the connection is made with childhood, with youthfulness. The country priest had been obsessed with his apparent failure to bring about spiritual results in his ministry. The meeting with the countess had been the first time, a meeting centered on a discussion for which he had not prepared intellectually. He had entered into it with all the innocence of his youth. Thinking back on this, he writes: 'And I know now that youth is a gift from God, and like all his gifts, carries no regret.... There was no old man in me.... This awareness is sweet. For the first time in years—perhaps for the first time ever—I seem to stand before my youth and look upon it without mistrust.... And my youth looks back at me, forgives me. Disheartened by the sheer clumsiness in me which always kept me back, I demanded of my youth what youth alone can't give, and I said it was a stupid thing and was ashamed of being young.' This is the man whose last words were 'Everything is grace.'"
Ec Only the one who is "like this child" can recognize grace That is why the one younger than sin was the same one who is full of grace.
(Doesn’t she, below, painted by my Dad [Carl Schmitt] look younger than sin?)