Monday, April 06, 2015

Social Doctrine: After the Resurrection, Building the Kingdom of God [Not Christendom] Here By the Exercise of Ordinary Work

The effect of the Resurrection on the social teaching of the Church: Sin has been destroyed in Christ and man has been divinized in his Persona.  In Christ, man has risen from the dead and will live forever. Consider the perspective of the Resurrection in Romano Guardini:  "Again and again it is stressed: Here is something far out of the ordinary. The Lord is transformed. His life is different from what it was, his existence incomprehensible. It has a new power that comes straight from the divine, to which it constantly returns for replenishment. Yet  it corporal; the whole Jesus is contained in it, his essence and his character. More: his earthly life, passion and death are incorporated in it, as the wounds show. Nothing is sloughed off; nothing left behind as unessential. Everything is tangible though transformed, reality; that reality of which we were given a premonition on the last journey to Jerusalem - the mysterious lightning-like flash of the Transfiguration. This was no mere subjective experience of the disciples, but an independent reality; no 'pure' spirituality, but the saturation , transformation by the Holy Spirit of Christ's whole life, body included. Indeed, only in the transformed existence, does the body fully come into its own. For the human body is different from  the animal's and is only then fulfilled when it no longer can be confused with the animal body. The Resurrection and Transfiguration are necessary to the full understanding of what the human body really is [Blogger: Consider John Paul II's "theology of the body" where the language of the human body is the language of the person's relationality. The human body is not animal-body but person-body. The dynamic giving being to the body is the person, not the soul; as the Person of Christ is the dynamizing Protagonist of His whole humanity, and Christ is the meaning of man (Gaudium et spes #22). See St. Thomas S. Th. III, 17, a. 2].

    "... But then what manner of God is this, with whom Resurrection, Ascension and throning on his right hand are possible? Precisely the kind of God who makes such things possible! He is the God of the Resurrection, and we must learn that it is not the Resurrection that is irreconcilable to him, but part of our thinking that is irreconcilable to the Resurrection, for it is false.

   If we take  Christ's figure as our point of departure, trying to understand from there, we find ourselves faced with the choice between a completely new conception of God and our relation to him, and utter rejection of everything  that surpasses the limitation of a 'great  man.' ... We must also completely reform our idea of humanity, if it is to fit the mold Christ has indicated. We can no longer say: it is to fit the mold Christ has indicated. We can no longer say: man is as the world supposes him to be; therefore it is impossible that he throne at God's right, but: since Revelation has revealed that the Son of Man does throne at God's right, man must be other than the world supposes him. We must learn that God is not only 'supreme Being,' but supremely divine and human Being[1]; we must realize that man is not only human, but that the tip of his essence reaches into the unknown, and receives its fulfillment in his Resurrection. 

   It is the Resurrection that brings ultimate clarity to that which is known as salvation. Not only does it reveal who God is, who we are, what sin really means; not only does it indicate the way to new accomplishment for the children of God; we cannot even say that it 'only' propitiates sin, anchoring the superabundance of divine pardon in justice and love - but something greater, more vital, in the concrete sense of the word, resurrection consists of the transformation of the totality of our being, spirit and flesh, by the creative power of God's love. Living reality, not only idea, attitude or orientation. It is the second divine Beginning - comparable only to the first, the tremendous act of creation. To the question: What is salvation? what does it mean to save, to have saved, to be saved - no full answer can be given without the words 'the resurrected Christ.' In his corporal reality, in his transfigured humanity he is the world redeemed. That is why he is called 'the firstborn of all creatures' 'the beginning,' 'the first born from the dead' (Col. 1, 15, 18). Through him transitory creation is lifted into the eternal existence of God and God, now invulnerable, stands in the world, an eternally fresh start. He is a vital road that invites all to follow, for all creation is called to share in his Transfiguration - that is the essential message of St. Paul and St. John... 

Early modernism manufactured a dogma to the effect that Christianity was anti-corporeal, that the body was the enemy of the spirit. This is true only in the limited sense of pagan antiquity, or of the Renaissance, or of our own epoch, where the body is detached from God. Actually, Christianity alone dared to draw the body into the inmost sphere of divine proximity."

Enter here, once again, the Christological  anthrology of GS #24.  And in the light of that, what is the meaning of work? Work is the act which  someone does/makes  something by mastering self to give something and self away.
We saw last week that man experiences that something happens in him (sleep, digestion, feelings…), but that when he acts he masters himself in the process of sensing, thinking (abstracting/reasoning) doing or making something. That is, he experiences himself as object and as subject. When he works, he makes something, but he also has an effect on himself by mastering himself. As Pope Francis says, he experiences something of himself. Insofar as this mastering is a donation of self, there is a growing identification of the working person with the   Person of the Son of God: "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working" (Jn. 5, 17). That “work” is the giving of the Self as engendering and glorifying – and together, creating and sanctifying. Insofar as we subdue ourselves and make the gift, we are increasing our ontological stature as subjects/persons and moving in the direction of becoming “other Christs.” This is the sanctification of work, and the meaning of all work.

         Preface of “On Human Work: “Only man is capable of work, and only man works, at the same time by work occupying his existence on earth. Thus work bears a particular mark of man and of humanity, the mark of a person operating within a community of persons. And this mark decides its interior characteristics; in a sense it constitutes its very nature” (John Paul II, “On Human Work,” September 14, 1981).

“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.”[3]

3)   The Philosophical Account of Gaudium et Spes #24): Karol Wojtyla“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.”[4]

St. Augustine: “Following Christ is not an outward imitation, since it touches man at the very depths of his being. Being a follower of Christ means becoming conformed to him who became a servant even to giving himself on the Cross (cf. Phil 2, 5-8). Christ dwells by faith in the heart of the believer (cf. Eph. 3, 17), and thus the disciple is conformed to the Lord…

                “Having become one with Christ, the Christian becomes a member of his Body, which is the Church (cf. 1 Cor. 12, 13, 27). By the work of the Spirit, Baptism radically configures the faith to Christ in the Paschal Mystery of death and resurrection, it ‘clothes him’ in Christ (cf. Gal. 3, 27): ‘Let us rejoice and give thanks,’ exclaims Saint Augustine speaking to the baptized, ‘for we have become not only Christians, but Christ (…). Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ!’”[5]

3) St. Josemaria Escriva on becoming Christ: “With all our personal defects and limitations, we are other Christs, Christ himself.…”     Notice that sin and defect (as obviously in the case of Matthew) are not an obstacle to becoming “another Christ.”

4) But how does this happen after the fact of Baptism? Work! You cannot separate the fact that Christ is God from his role as redeemer.” As the divine Persons are pure relations, so also the divine Person who becomes flesh is pure relation: his very Person is work.

                Benedict XVI says this best: “(W)ith Jesus it is not possible to distinguish office and person; with him, this differentiation simply becomes inapplicable. The person is the office, the office is the person. The two are no longer divisible. Here there is no private area reserved for an ‘I’ which remains in the background behind the deeds and actions and thus at some time or other can be ‘off duty;’ here there is no ‘I’ separate from the work; the ‘I’ is the work and the work is the ‘I.’”[6] The meaning of the name “Jesus Christ” is that Jesus is the Christ. His very being is the relation of self-gift, and every human deed of work has the divine “I” as protagonist of the deed. The divine “I” wills with a human will and turns all the sin of the human will into the obedience of total self-gift: the Cross. This is redemption and salvation. The theology of the Incarnation must be completed by the theology of the Cross. Chalcedon (451) is completed by Constantinople III (680-681) that does the phenomenology of Christ before its time and gives us the prototype of Christian personalism and the Christian anthropology of the sanctification of work.
Divinized Human Work: “Work too has been taken up in the mystery of the Incarnation, and has been redeemed in a special way.”[7] This is the development by Constantinople III of Chalcedon’s one Person, two natures. It is developed from an objectified epistemology to a subjectified epistemology. The Person of Christ is not merely a substance or substratum in the background sustaining the human nature and its acts. The divine “I” of the Son is the Actor, the One Who acts in human work.

Secularity: ” Baptized into that, we too are able to make the gift of ourselves to God in the service of the others in ordinary secular work. And this so much so that secularity is derived from it. That is, secularity is the very freedom of the human will and work of Christ that is His very Person. The freedom of the Son is the grounding of the secularity of the world. “Secularity, with all that it implies (work, occupations, outlook, lifestyle, ways of acting and behaving) is not added on to our vocation from outside. On the contrary, it receives its fullest meaning from our vocation….Secularity is something Christian, a Christian way of being and living. In other words… Christian faith and morality… cannot be judged from the starting-point of a secularity defined a priori. Rather, secularity should be judged and valued – or rather, discovered – from the starting-point of… what Christian faith reveals to us about man, about the world and about our destiny.”[8]

In other words, secularity is not the given state of affairs we find in the given culture and street and in which we are immersed. Secularity is not extrinsic to us or added on to us from outside. Secularity comes from us in that we are becoming Christ. The humanity – the human will – of Christ is the meaning and measure of secularity. And this is what must be imparted to the world by us in the very exercise of work.

5) Secularity as “Dimension;” Secularity as Characteristic:” The entire Church is secular because it is the Body of Christ. Even the religious are “secular” as “dimension.” However, the laity become Christ-in-act precisely in the exercise of work in the world. Hence, secularity as characteristic is a theological note, not merely sociological or geographical.[9] Authentic work itself is always the exercise of the self-gift of the worker who is becoming another Christ. It is never merely an external performance. Authentic work must be an act of obedience of the “I” of the worker. And the work must be a manifestation of that “I.” Therefore, it must be well done. The worker becomes good, nay, another Christ, in the exercise of the work. He becomes Christ precisely in working. The work itself must be prayer that becomes a consciousness accompanying the true going out of self that work must be.

From The Church in America: #44: “There are two areas in which lay people live their vocation. The first, and the one best suited to their lay state, is the secular world, which they are called to shape according to God’s will. Their specific activity brings the Gospel to the structure s of the world; ‘working in holiness wherever they are, they consecrate the world itself to God.’ Thanks to the lay faithful, ‘the presence and mission of the Church in the world is realized in a special way in the variety of charisms and ministries which belong to the laity. Secularity is the true and distinctive mark of the lay person and of lay spirituality, which means that the laity strive to evangelize the various sectors of family, social, professional, cultural and political life. On a continent marked by competition and aggressiveness, unbridled consumerism and corruption, lay people are called to embody deeply evangelical values such as mercy, forgiveness, honesty, transparency of heart and patience in difficult situations. What is expected from the laity is a great creative effort in activities and works demonstrating a life in harmony with the Gospel.’
                “America need s lay Christians able to assume roles of leadership in society. It is urgent to train men and women who, in keeping with their vocation, can influence public life, and direct it to the common good. In political life, understood in its truest and noblest sense as the administration of the common good, they can find the path of their own sanctification. For this, they must be formed in the truths and values of the Church’s social teaching, and in the basic notions of a theology of the laity.
A deeper knowledge of Christian ethical principles and moral values will enable them to be exponents of these in their own particular setting, proclaiming them even where appeals are made to the so-called ‘neutrality of the State.’”

[1] That Christ rose from the dead being obviously both God and man, God cannot be a Being as a supreme Individual because then, as uncreated,  He could not be God and man, since “man” is His creation and a limiting category distinct from God. Therefore, God cannot be a Being, but Being Itself as Creator of all beings that are this and that category. Therefore, it is possible to become Christ by imaging Being as diffusive of Self, by going out of self ( giving self away) to the point  of death.  Robert Barron’s work on the notion of creation dovetails with the Person of Christ being both God and man. For God to create He “is not a being in or alongside the world, not one agent among others, not the highest or first cause, not anything in nature , but rather the sheer act of being itself which escapes all categorization? (…) Is it perhaps possible that the strangeness of the creation teaching is a clue… that our normal view of the world is perhaps not sufficient, that ‘something else might be the case,’ that there is something uncanny at work in the ordinary, that the reality we call ‘God’ is ever stranger than we can imagine” Robert Barron “A Study of the De Potentia of Thomas Aquinas in Light of the Dogmatik of Paul Tillich,” Mellen Research University Press, San Francisco (1993) 3.
[2] Romano Guardini, "The Lord," Regnery - Gateway Edition (1996) 482-486.

[3] John Paul II, “Laborem Exercens,” #6.
[4] K. Wojtyla “The Personal Structure of Self-Determination,” Person and Community Lang (1993) 191-192.
[5] John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, #21.
[6] J. Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” Ignatius (1990) 149.
[7] John Paul II, “Redemptoris Custos,” #22.
[8] Letter from the Prelate of Opus Dei, November 28, 1995.
[9] Christifideles Laici, #15.
[10] John Paul II, “The Church in America” January 22, 1999, 

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