Thursday, January 28, 2016

Rebuttal of Fr.Carmine Rizzi to my: "How Absolution For Divorce-Remarriage Can Rebuild Christian Truth Rather Than Destroy It"

Dear Fr. Bob,

Thank you for your e-mail. I read the article and your comments and here are some brief thoughts in no real order: 

1.      The Church was willing to give up England to defend the indissolubility of marriage after Henry VIII petitioned, unsuccessfully, for an annulment of his legitimate and valid marriage.  Did St Thomas More and St John Fisher die for no reason?  Should they be un-canonized for defending something that is indefensible?  Are they to go down in history as ‘martyrs without a cause’?

2.      Properly speaking, divorce doesn’t exist in the Church.  A person is either free to marry, in religious vows (not free to marry), or married. 

3.      Entering into the sacrament of marriage is not a sin, so it cannot be ‘absolved’ when a person attempts to enter into another marriage, while still being bound in the first marriage.  The sin is the infidelity to the marriage covenant that they have entered and have promised to be faithful to.

4.      If the church did have the authority to absolve the bond of marriage in confession, would she also have the same authority to absolve the vows that a cleric took at his religious profession or ordination by just going to confession, and without the formal process of laicization?  Could a priest, then, go to confession, have contrition that he was ordained, and then leave the confessional and be ready to marry?

5.      How many times can a person be ‘forgiven’ of a passed marriage?  Once, twice, three times?  Why stop there? Marriage is not the problem, but the answer. 

6.      If Ratzinger has this metaphysics based on Christ and not on the categories of the Greeks, why didn’t he allow for a ‘second’ marriage?  Also, if Fr. Robert Barron is of the same metaphysics as Ratzinger, why hasn’t he come out in support for a ‘second’ marriage?

7.      The Fathers and the great Scholastics used metaphysics to help illuminate and explain the faith in a coherent and clear way.  They tried to show the unity of knowledge, something that our world has lost.  Metaphysics have never replaced the faith that the church received in the Scriptures and the Tradition.  There have been occasions when some Scholastics went too far with their philosophy, but they were condemned by councils or local bishops.  The goal is always to preserve the faith as the Church has received it.

The novelty of the Nouvelle Théologie was that it presented the faith in a different way, but it presented the same faith.  We may speak about the Eucharist in terms of ‘substance’ and ‘accidents’ or in terms of the ‘Sacrifice of the New Covenant, or the ‘Bread of Angels’, all affirm the real presence of the same Christ.  The underlying reality is preserved, while the explanation changes.

The Protestant historian of Dogma, Adolf Von Harnack, said that the Council of Nicea, in 325, represented the triumph of Greek Metaphysics over the pure Christian faith, with the definition of God the Father and God the Son as homoousios (ὁμοούσιος).  But as Fr. Bernard Lonergan pointed out, this definition, as presented by the Council, would have been rejected by the Greeks because it goes against their understanding of hypostasis (ὑπόστασις) and its relationship to being (οὐσία).  St Athanasius used the language of person and being, but not as the Greeks understood them.  He used their language, but the reality that he was affirming was something that came from the Scriptures and Tradition, namely the divinity of Christ.

8.      What then do you do with the words of Christ:  “'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one. So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together let no man put asunder.”  And again:  “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful), and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries a divorced woman, commits adultery.” (Mt 19:5-10, Mk 10:2-12).  Why didn’t Jesus say, repent, and you can enter into another marriage?

9.      St John the Baptist died defending the indissolubility of marriage.  Herod ‘married’ his half-brother’s wife, but his half-brother Philip was still alive.  She was not free to marry and thus was committing adultery.  When St John the Baptist spoke of this public sin, he was put to death.

10.  Would this be a legitimate development of doctrine?  Cardinal Newman on this subject, proposes seven marks:  1) Preservation of type; 2) Continuity of principles; 3) Assimilative power; 4) Logical sequence; 5) Anticipation of the future; 6) Conservative action on its past; 7) It’s chronic vigor.  It seems like it is not a legitimate development because it proposes the opposite of what the Scriptures have always taught. 

Not sure if that is what you were looking for, but hope that it helps.  As you know, I am always happy to discuss.

In Christ,
Carmine


Thomas Aquinas’s and Pope Francis’s Common Task: The Ecstatic Perception of Reality.



Jesus Christ has revealed that the divine Persons are relations as Father, Son and Spirit. St. Thomas rendered them as “Subsistent Relations” – not as “Substances” – whereby they are One. They are not “united” as individuals” They are “One.” As such, the divine Persons are “ecstacies.” They are other than anything we can experience through the senses. And the human person, created in the image and likeness of those Persons, are ecstatic in the constitution of their being. And the reason for this is that God as Creator is not a a “being” of His world [except the humanity that He assumed as His own] but is the “power” whereby any is at all. Barron comments on Thomas’s De Potentia, 3, 1: “Since God truly creates, there is absolutely no aspect of finite reality that does not flow from the divine source. There is nothing in the world, in nature, in the cosmos, in us, that is not, in every detail, the result of God’s creative act. There is, consequently, nothing that is finally ‘secular’ or ‘profane;’ instead, everything is, in principle, at the root of its being, sacred. The great counter-position here would be that of Gnostics who claim that God touches and is responsible for the spiritual realm while remaining opposed to the evil of the material dimension. In affirming creation from nothing, Thomas shows his radical disagreement with this sort of dualism: for him, as for the author of Genesis, all being is redolent of the divine and hence worthy of reverence and celebration: all ground is holy ground, all places are holy places, all times are sacred times…. Nothing is profane for those who know how to see.”[1]

                This being so, i.e. esse is who I am as image and likeness, then I am ultimately like God in relationality and ecstasy. Copying from Gerald Manley Hopkins, Barron writes: “This, it seems to me, is what Thomas Aquinas means by the act of creation. Despite the suffering that we face on a daily basis, despite the gloomy prospects of global politics, despite our fear or the unknown future, ‘there lives the ‘dearest freshness deep down,’ there exists a source of life and hope and love that is the divine power. And this power can never by exhausted because it is the very being of the creature, it is the presence of God’s love in us. Thus, the more we call upon it, the more we give it away, the more we draw from it, the more abundant it becomes.

                “And once more, if creation is the act by which the whole of one’s being is constituted, then the creature is nothing but a relationship to God. In light of Thomas’s understanding of creation, relation, not substance, is the primary category of reality. It is not as though God makes things with which he then establishes a relationship; on the contrary, from the beginning, all ‘things’ already are relations to the divine source. We are most ourselves precisely when we acknowledge that what we are, most fundamentally, is a rapport, a play, a dynamic relation to God.”[2]

* * * * * * 

   Blogger: it is in this light that it seems that the sacramental forgiveness for any sin – if there is acknowledgement and contrition – can retrieve and activate this “deep down freshness” that is at the ontological root of every person. Francis is after this, banking on God’s Mercy and our acceptance of it in humility.



[1] R. Barron “Thomas Aquinas – Spiritual Master” Crossroad (1996)115, 116.
[2] IPbid. 120

Thomas Aquinas

January 28, 2016

Prayer of St. Thomas: 

"Da mihi intellegendi acumen, retinendi capacitatem, addiscendi modum et facultatem interpretandi subtilitatem, loquendi gratiam copiosam."

"Give me acuity of understanding, a powerful memory to retain, a knack for learning and faculty to interpret subtlety, together with great fluency of speech."

[The below is from Robert Barron’s “Thomas Aquinas – Spiritual Master” (Crossroad 1996, Introduction).

The Aristotelian and Dominican context for St. Thomas: “Aristotelian was an exciting and dangerous revolutionary movement in the Christendom of the early thirteenth century, and young Thomas Aquinas became one of its most enthusiastic and important adepts.
                “The young radical became even more intensely countercultural when he embraced the other great revolution of his time: the mendicant movement. While still a university student at Naples, Thomas Aquinas took the habit of the preaching friars of St. Dominic. Like his contemporary, Francis of Assisi, Dominic de Guzman felt that a return to the radicality and simple power of the Gospel message, and thus he gathered around him a band of brothers dedicated to lives of poverty, preaching, and unquestioning trust in God. Dominic sent his followers to the great urban centers, especially to university cities such as Paris and Bologna, where their preaching would have the profoundest impact. What was perhaps most impressive – and scandalous – about the Dominicans was that they were literally beggars, poor men going from door to door humbly but confidently asking for food and financial support. The presence of these mendicants, these fools for Christ, in the leading cities of Europe was, for some, a thrilling reminder that the Gospel lifestyle could still be concretely led; but for others it was a shock and an embarrassment.
                “In becoming a Dominican, Thomas allowed himself to be swept up in the élan of this exciting movement, this back-to-basics evangelicalism. And therefore, as Joseph Pieper points out, Thomas combined in his person the two great radicalities of his day: Aristotelianism and Gospel simplicity. As an Aristotelian radical, he was opting for this world, for science, for reason, for the beauty of the senses, and as a Gospel radical, he was opting for the life of the Spirit, for trust, for deep faith in the love of God. It was this splendid coming together of what were, for many, mutually exclusive commitments that animated and gave special color to all that Thomas would eventually write.
                “When Thomas joined this peculiar band in 1244, donning the costume of a beggar, he of course profoundly unnerved and disappointed his family. Keep in mind that they had hoped he would return to Monte Casino, a well-appointed and richly endowed monastery, as a lordly abbot. Instead he had joined a strange and upstart group of radicals throwing away as he did his wealth, his title, and his position. Chesterton avers that for a person of Aquinas’s status to join the early Dominicans was comparable to ’running away and marrying a gypsy’ – or, en an even more contemporary comparison, to joining a cult.
                “On his way to Paris to commence his formal Dominican studies, Thomas was kidnapped by his brothers and forced to return to the family castle at Roccasecca, where he was for all practical purposes kept as a prisoner in a tower. (There) (o)ne famous legend has it that the young prisoner chased a prostitute from his cell, shouting and brandishing a torch – and no doubt frightening the girl half to death. Another tradition has it that Thomas used his time in the tower to commit the entire Scripture to memory. Incredible as it sounds, such a feat is not entirely out of the question, given Thomas’s prodigious mind. Indeed, according to some of his contemporaries, the thousands upon thousands of Scripture quotes in his theological writings were culled, not from research, but from memory, as if the saint were simply reading from a book….
`”Recognizing his remarable talent, Thomas superiors sent the young man to the undisputed intellectual capital of Christendom: Paris…
                “When he arrived in the new Athens of Paris in 1245, the young Thomas Aquinas found his context, his home. He also found his master and mentor in Albert, the Dominican scientist and philosopher, who, even in his own lifetime, was called ‘the great.’’ Under Albert, Aquinas continued even more intensely the clandestine study of Aristotle that had begun with Peter of Ireland. In 1248, Thomas followed Albert to Cologne, becoming the great man’s assistant and intellectual apprentice.
                “In 1252, Thomas returned to Paris to begin what we could call postgraduate or doctoral studies in theology. For four years, he studied the Scripture and the standard theological textbook of the age,the so-called Sentences of Peter Lombard….In 1256, when he was still only in his late twenties, Aquinas became a master of theology and began to lecture in Paris…. The first responsibility of a parisian master of theologywas,interestingly enough, to opreach. The breaking open of the word of God for the benefit of the students and faculty at the university was considered the paramount work of the professor. It is my contention that this  preaching orientation can be seen in even the most ‘abstract’ and recondite ofThomas’s writings. As a magister of theology, his opurpose is never simply to satisfy the curiosity of the mind; rather, it is to change the lives of this readers, to transorm their hearts, in a word, to move them to salvation.
                “The second task of the master was biblical commentary. Thomas’s principal academic responsibility was, not to lecture in philosophy or metaphysics of even systematic theology, but rather to illumine and explain the sacra paginas, the sacred page of Scripture. It is interesting – and higly regrettable – that among Aquinas’s least known works are his biblical commentaries, precisely those presentations that were, at least in principle, at the very heart of his project. Aquinas scholars are discovering only today the scriptural ‘fell’ and focus in al of his more formally theological tracts.
                “The third and final responsibility of the magister was to raise and resolve those thorny questions that emerged from biblical commentary. The major forum for this theological exploring was the event that the mediaevals called a quaestio disputata, a disputed question. A disputed question took place in public, the master presiding over a large and sometimes raucous group of students and faculty. In a lively exchange, he would entertain objections from the floor, responding to the best of his ability, and finally resolve the question at hand, perhaps reveling in cheers or ensuing catcalls from the floor. Thomas Aquinas was the most respected master of the quaestio disputata  in Paris. Obviously, many professors carefully avoided this high-pressured and potentially embarrassing forum, but Thomas seemed to thrive on it, disputing far more often than any of his colleagues….
                “Thomas taught as a master in Paris between 1256 and 1259, and it was fuing this period that he began work on his Summa contra gentiles, which some have considered to be a handbook for Christian missionaries worling among Muslims. IN 1259, Aquinas returned to his native Italy, and for ten years he served the papal court as a sort of official theologian at Anagni,Orvieto, Viterbo, and Rome. It as during these extraordinarily productive years that TThoms wrote many of his biblical commentaries, Disputed Questions, and massive commentaries on the works of Aristotle And in the middle of the 1260
S, Thomas began work on the masterpiece  … theSumma Theologiae.
On December 6, 1273, Thomas celebrated Mass, saw something, and “hung up his instruments of writing,” saying to his assistant (Reginald) about continuing to write: “Reginald, I cannot, because all that I have written seems like straw to me.”
Most interesting, Robert Barron finishes his introduction to his book on Aquinas: “I have spend a good deal of time examining the texts of Thomas Aquinas in the course of my studies. I tended to oapproach this great thinker in a rational and critical way hoping to find illumination for my mind. But I discovered that under the influence of his writings my life began to change and more than my mind was illumind. I discovered, in short, what Thomas himself would have taken for granted: good theology is mystical, prayerful, and transformative, and its final purpose is to ‘know’ God, that is to say, to be one with God in inteimate communion. My  hope is to share some of that life-changing wisdeom in the course of this book.
                And I (blogger) have rediscovered the ecstatic and relational character of Thomistic metaphysics precisely in reading Robert Barron. I saw it in the works of Jacques Maritain and Etienne Gilson in my undergraduate years in Toronto, above all, in the understanding of Thomas’s esse. I glimpsed it again when I was confronted with Ratzinger’s presentation of person as intrinsic or “constitutive relation” and I attempted to offer esse as the metaphysical account of person (Communio Fall 1990 and 1993 [re: Veritatis Splendor” as well as the ACPR and Q in the early 90s]. Most interesting is Barron’s offering that the real meaning esse is the Person of Jesus Christ, particularly in his “Priority of Christ.”

                Barron gives credit for the insight of the Christian Distinction (of uncreated-created) in first place to the phenomenological work of Robert Sokolowski who brings Anselm to proper prominence in this regard, and then to Michel Corbin, S.J. who was his mentor in Paris for writing his thesis on Thomas and Tillich.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How Absolution For Divorce-Remarriage Can Rebuild Christian Truth Rather Than Destroy It

My thesis: Sacramental absolution affirms the person as person. It reconstitutes him positively in grace (i.e. in Love) and puts him on the road to achieving full identity as "another Christ." Such absolution, as loving affirmation, does not necessarily open the way to a recidivism of divorce but rather opens space to divine Love and ontological growth.     

* * * * *

      God has the power to forgive all sin. But if the Church exercises that power with regard to the divorced-remarried, she runs the risk of undermining the metaphysics that has been in place to explain that divorce is a violation of the reality of marriage, and that which Moses granted because of the Jews’ hardness of heart “was not so from the beginning .[1]” The explanatory metaphysic is Greek in origin, and as such is abstract and objectifying. By “objectifying” I mean, non-historical, “already out there now,” a symbol of the real as independent of a knowing subject. It portrays man to be an individual substance of a rational nature, and statically so. If the Church meted out absolution for divorce and remarriage, it would be contradicting not only the words of Christ but also it would contradict the Greek/scholastic metaphysic that marriage is a permanent institution integrated by two individuals (philosophically: “substances of a rational nature”) whose “primary purpose is the procreation and education of children, with the secondary purpose to furnish mutual aid and a remedy for concupiscence. The essential characteristics of marriage are its unity and indissolubility, which obtain a special stability in Christian marriage by virtue of the sacrament.” So reads the 1017 Code (c. 1013) of Canon Law.

            Hence, Robert Moynihan wrote after reading the words of Pope Francis on January 1, 2016: “Is Francis, with his calling of the two-part Synod on the Family, and with his declaring a ‘Jubilee Year of Mercy,’ indicating in these words that he wishes to ‘open the doors’ to that ‘mercy’ and ‘forgiveness’ that would enable all repentant sinners to return to participate without scandal and without shame in the full life of the Church, in the life of Christ, including receiving Holy Communion?”Is that what he was saying in his homily?”

                And confronting that possibility, he entitles the next section of his “Letters”[2]:“One Concern.”  And that “concern” deals with the consequences if Francis opts for absolution for the divorced-remarried. The "concern" is that Francis will undermine the Catholic Faith, the entire moral system and the metaphysics at its base. Hear Moynihan out as he considers absolution for the divorced-remaried:

“(One) concern, in our present cultural circumstances, is this: that a praiseworthy papal desire to assist individual men and women suffering from the personal, individual wounds of their own lives (and there are tens of millions of them) not create an opening on another front which would cause unexpected harm to men and women -- and to the truth of the faith.

This is a concern because cultural forces inimical to the faith greatly desire to gain a victory in this particular battle, a battle which is only part of a very broad-based metaphysical war against the concepts of substantial being, personhood, the soul, personal fault, sin, guilt, repentance, and holiness of life -- the concepts which underlie the entire Catholic sacramental system... the concepts which underlie the entire Catholic faith.

The point is this: even if Christians all agree on the astounding, joy-causing gift of God's mercy toward all who seek His forgiveness, we may disagree on how precisely to express that fact, given our present circumstances and predicament.”

Thus,Moynihan… However, I would like to confront Moynihan’s reference to “a battle which is only part of a very broad-based metaphysical war against the concepts of substantial being, personhood, the soul, personal fault, sin, guilt, repentance, and holiness of life -- the concepts which underlie the entire Catholic sacramental system... the concepts which underlie the entire Catholic faith.”

I believe Moynihan is putting his finger precisely in the wound where the anxiety (his and others) about Pope Francis lies. My question is this: are the concepts of substantial being, personhood, the soul, personal fault, sin, guilt, repentance, and holiness of life,  concepts that underlie the entire Catholic sacramental system and the Catholic faith?”

I respond to Moynihan: The Greek metaphysics of substance cannot be the concepts that undergird the reality of the Catholic Faith nor the entire Catholic sacramental system. Greek metaphysics is from below from sensible perception and abstract thought. Christian faith and life are an assimilation of the Person of Jesus Christ Who is from above. Ratzinger, at the behest of Hans Urs Von Balthasar, formulated a theological epistemology which establishes the context in which the concept of reality, person, grace, sin, redemption, sacrament, etc. are to be found. And the context is scriptural in the question Christ asked the apostles: “Who do men say that I am; who do you say that I am?” (Mt. 16, 15).  Ratzinger offers Lk. 9,18 as the context of the question:  “And it came to pass as he was praying in private, that his disciples also were with him, and he asked them saying, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am? And they answered and said, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elias; and others, that one of the ancient prophets has risen again.’ And he said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’” In Matthew. Simon Peter answers: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16, 16).”
The philosophical explanation that Ratzinger gives is that “like is known by like.” In the previous two theses he advanced the point that Luke always offered Christ to be a Person praying, or Person in relation. Here, in the third thesis, when the apostles enter into the prayer of Christ to the Father, they experience in themselves (ab intus) who Christ is. That is, they know Christ by becoming “another Christ” Here, knowing at its greatest profundity – the experiential knowledge of God – is preceded by the action of going out of self. One knows God by becoming God

My first discovery of this epistemological topsyturvydom was Ratzinger’s presentation[3] of the divine Persons as relations: that the Father was not the Father and then engenders the Son; rather the Father was the action of engendering the Son. “Relationship is not something extra added to the person [mine: as an accident of substance], as it is with us; it only exists at all as relatedness.”[4] Ratzinger then drives the point home: “In this idea of relatedness in word and love, independent of the concept of substance and not to be classified among the ‘accidents,’ Christian thought discovered the kernel of the concept of person.” And then, “Therein lies concealed a revolution in man’s view of the world: the sole dominion of thinking in terms of substance is ended; relation is discovered as an equally valid primordial mode of reality. It becomes possible to surmount what we call today ‘objectifying thought;’ a new plane of being comes into view.”
   Robert Barron comes at the same point from the angle of creation in St.
Thomas. In the De Potentia above all – and now without the tutelage of Robert Sokolowski and Paul Tillich – Baron finds the Thomistic esse to be relational insofar as both God and the prototypical God-man are personally ecstatic.[5]



Affirmation (Relation) As the Reconstruction of the Human Person:

I believe forgiveness and mercy to be the supernatural strategy of Pope Francis for the reconstruction of Christ’s Church. The overarching theme that imposes itself is: affirmation that reconstructs persons. The point immediately appears in the papal coat of arms with the inscription: Miserando atque eligendo: Having received mercy, chosen. That is, having been forgiven, chosen to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  With this Francis has chosen his signature scriptural periscope: the vocation of Matthew:As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.”[6]
In the opening interview with Anthony Spadaro S.J. the pope wanted to define himself as Matthew, tax collector and sinner who is forgiven – and chosen. He refers to Caravaggio’s painting of same and remarks: “‘That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew. That’s me. I feel like him. Like Matthew… ‘It is the gesture of Matthew that strikes me: he holds on to his money as if to say, ‘No, not me! No, this money is mine.’ Here, this is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze. And this is what I said when they asked me if I would accept my election as pontiff. Then the pope whispers in Latin: ‘I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept in a spirit of penance.’”
Another signature vignette from Scripture in the same line was presented by Francis as bishop in 2001 at a book fair in Buenos Aires where he commented on the book “El Atractivo de Jesucristo” by Luigi Giussani. He said:  When Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love Me?”, “his ‘Yes’ was not the result of an effort of will, it was not the fruit of a ‘decision’ made by the young man Simon: it was the emergence, the coming to the surface of an entire vein of tenderness and adherence that made sense because of the esteem he had for Him–therefore an act of reason;” it was a reasonable act, “which is why he couldn’t not say ‘Yes.’”

We cannot understand this dynamic of encounter which brings forth wonder and adherence if it has not been triggered–forgive me the use of this word–by mercy. Only someone who has encountered mercy, who has been caressed by the tenderness of mercy, is happy and comfortable with the Lord. I beg the theologians who are present not to turn me in to the Sant’Uffizio or to the Inquisition; however, forcing things a bit, I dare to say that the privileged locus of the encounter is the caress of the mercy of Jesus Christ on my sin.

In front of this merciful embrace–and I continue along the lines of Giussani’s thought–we feel a real desire to respond, to change, to correspond; a new morality arises. We posit the ethical problem, an ethics which is born of the encounter, of this encounter which we have described up to now. Christian morality is not a titanic effort of the will, the effort of someone who decides to be consistent and succeeds, a solitary challenge in the face of the world. No. Christian morality is simply a response. It is the heartfelt response to a surprising, unforeseeable, “unjust” mercy (I shall return to this adjective). The surprising, unforeseeable, “unjust” mercy, using purely human criteria, of one who knows me, knows my betrayals and loves me just the same, appreciates me, embraces me, calls me again, hopes in me, and expects from me. This is why the Christian conception of morality is a revolution; it is not a never falling down but an always getting up again.[7]
            The theological/psychological explanation of the above can be found in the remarks of Joseph Ratzinger on the necessity of relation as affirmation in the human person. Ratzinger wrote that joy takes place in man when he is in harmony with himself, with his I. But, he asks, “how does one go about affirming, assenting to, one’s I? The answer may perhaps be unexpected. We cannot do so by our own efforts alone. 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…. If an individual is to accept himself, someone must say to him: ‘It is good that you exist’ – must say it, not with words, but with that act of the entire being that we call love. For it is the way of love to will the other’s existence and, at the same time, to bring that existence forth again. The key to the I lies with the thou. The way to the thou leads through the I.”[8]
            Psychiatrist Conrad Baars, M.D. writes that the lack of affirmation [Emotional Deprivation Disorder (EDD)] by a significant other produces: “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.[9]/[10]

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.”[11]





[1] Mt. 19, 9.
[2] “Letters from Robert Moynihan” #1 (January 1, 2016).
[3] J. Ratzinger, “introduction to Christianity,” Ignatius (2004) 183
[4] Ibid.
[5] “The humana being Jesus Christ, in perfect obedience ned openness to this ecstatic God, forgets himself, goes out beyond himself in love, gives himself in a sort of imitation of divine ecstasy. And in this radical self-emtpying, Jesus does not lose himself; rather , he becomes most fully himself…” R. Barron, homas Aquinas, Spiritual Master,” Crossroad (2000) 26.
[6] Gospel: Matt. 9, 9-18
[7] International Book Fair, April 17, 2001, Buenos Aires.
[8] J. Ratzinger, “Principles of Catholic Theology,” Ignatius (1987) 79-80.
[9] 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].
[10] C. Baars, “I Will Give Themn a New Heart” St Pauls (2008) 12.
[11] Ibid 190.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Moynihan on the Renewal of Christian Humanism - and myself (offering an alternative)


Robert Moynihan proposes that the renewal of Europe (and the world) will come from a return to the spirituality and transcendent humanism of the Benedictine Cloister


The Renewal Begins...

The renewal of Europe will come from the tiny town of Norcia, Italy.

It will not come from a secular humanism which has lost all sense of, or belief in, the transcendent.

That "de-transcendentalized" humanism offered no consistent impediment to the rise of savage regimes which destroyed human dignity in what St. Pope John Paul II in 1990 called a "regression without precedent" in the 20th century.

And it is not offering a vision to the Europeans of today which will enable them to maintain their cultural and religious heritage -- from the Atlantic to the Urals (that is, including Russia).

The renewal of Europe and the West will come from a renewal of that Christian humanism which saved Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. That Christian humanism was incarnated in the life of the Rule of St. Benedict and in the lives of the Benedictine monks who for 1,000 years kept the light of learning burning in the West, through their profound love of the transcendent, all-holy God who had become visible in Christ.

And this renewal has already begun.

It has begun in Norcia, birthplace of St. Benedict, at the exact geographical center of Italy -- the heart of Italy -- in one of the most beautiful of all the Italian hill towns.

It is a renewal which will restore faith in Europe, the West, and the world.

It is a renewal based on the fundamentals: prayer and work ("ora et labora," the motto of the Benedictine order).

It is a renewal based on the vision of the Patron Saint of Europe, St. Benedict of Nursia. (Nursia is the old Latin name for Norcia.)

Fittingly, on the very site where he was born, a Benedictine monastery has come back to life during the past 15 years. It is called The Monastery of St. Benedict of Norcia.

Here, the spirit of Benedict is alive again in the monks who bear his name.

It is a spirit that, just as in the Middle Ages, will give a soul to Europe, and from Europe, to the world.

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   Rather, I believe that the renewal will come from America (not from Europe) beginning in the south and spreading to the north (and from there – globally), as the papacy for the Church now and in the future is from South America in the person of Francis.

 It is the thought of Alberto Methol Ferre, philosopher from Uruguay, and Bergoglio himself. The human existential incarnation of this renewal will not be monks living in the religious state with vows of poverty, chastity (celibacy) and obedience, but the Christian people themselves [not with celibacy but with matrimony] whose faith has formed culture. (By the way, if faith does not become culture, it is not faith). This faith was transported from Spain to South America, and in 500 years has formed a people with a cultural identity that continues to develop. It is a more powerful identity (though economically and technologically poorer) than the Anglo-Saxon culture of the north that has been weakened and vitiated in person and family by Pelagian and Gnostic  ideologies. North America is a diminished culture in that we understand “culture” to be the cultivation  of the human person. The North has been left with a savage, sad and lonely individualism with each turned to self and the relation to the other is competitive and ontologically accidentaI. The North has arms and legs to work; the South has head and heart to know and love. The latter comes from a lived faith forming a people. The successful economic and industrial development that has occurred in the North (and still rules the world) due to an unredeemed individualism and naïve Christian life, will wane, and is waning. Profit for self can never be the defining dynamic of a burgeoning humanism and culture since it contradicts the very meaning of the human person revealed in the God-man, Jesus Christ.

    But then, there is migration. The Latin comes north to advance professionally and runs the risk of contamination by northern individualism and selfishness and thus damage to his Christian culture of giftedness and family. But having a stronger culture qua culture because of an imbedded sense of Christ as the meaning of man, the Latin culture can – and does with appropriate formation– assimilate the truth of the working and competing individual and turn him into a working person for others (beginning with the family), and as such (the working person as opposed to profit) develop the true Christian/Catholic spirituality of becoming another Christ in the very exercise of secular work.

                Thus, as Italy and Spain were “originating” Churches  for all the other churches at the time of the Protestant Reformation (16th c.), and Germany and France were “originating” at the time of Vatican II (20th c.), now (21st c.) it will be the “Cono Sur” of South America who has cast off the Marxist dimension of the personalism of “Liberation Theology” and is positioned with this profound, discerning and contemplative pope, Francis, to reform the global culture after he reforms the Church herself into her pristine figure of “Communion” (having shed the monarchical trappings of the 16th – 20th centuries). The pope continues to be the pope, but as vice Christ, ruling from his knees and creating oneness” by washing the feet of the apostles.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Divorce, Remarriage, Sin, Forgiveness - And The Metaphysics of Relation


Can the Church forgive the sin of divorce and remarriage in order to reconstitute millions of couples [trapped in a state of sin] to the state of grace and capable of receiving the sacraments, without destroying Christian/Catholic moral life? Robert Moynihan wrote the following on January 1, 2016 in his “Letters From the Journal of Robert Moynihan,” commenting on Francis’ homily that day:
Moynihan:

“Is Francis, with his calling of the two-part Synod on the Family, and with his declaring a "Jubilee Year of Mercy," indicating in these words that he wishes to "open the doors" to that "mercy" and "forgiveness" that would enable all repentant sinners to return to participate without scandal and without shame in the full life of the Church, in the life of Christ, including receiving Holy Communion?

Is that what he was saying in this homily?

One Concern

The answer is still not clear.

We await the Pope's document, his conclusions after the two-part Synod, and his own reflection and decision on all that was said.

However, one concern, in our present cultural circumstances, is this: that a praiseworthy papal desire to assist individual men and women suffering from the personal, individual wounds of their own lives (and there are tens of millions of them) not create an opening on another front which would cause unexpected harm to men and women -- and to the truth of the faith.

This is a concern because cultural forces inimical to the faith greatly desire to gain a victory in this particular battle, a battle which is only part of a very broad-based metaphysical war against the concepts of substantial being, personhood, the soul, personal fault, sin, guilt, repentance, and holiness of life -- the concepts which underlie the entire Catholic sacramental system... the concepts which underlie the entire Catholic faith.”

Thus Moynihan:* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

I would respond: 1) The forgiveness of the sin of divorce/remarriage does not do away with the ontological reality that stands against divorce and remarriage. On the contrary. Forgiveness of sin is the supreme affirmation of the person and ontologically rebuilds him/her as person. This was the thread that ran through Vatican II and was semantically expressed in Gaudium et Spes #24: "Man, the only earthly being made for himself [(and not to be used) in the image and likeness of the Trinitarian God, finds himself by the sincere gift of himself. It rebuilds it because it is not what Moynihan offers as the metaphysics of person and marriage. He offers that it is “substantial being,” I would offer, rather, that the metaphysical anthropology is not “substance” but person that went through significant development in Vatican II. The human person and the meaning of matrimony from Gaudium et Spes 48-52 and in all subsequent Magisterium and Canon Law (c. 1055) underwent development from substance as thing-in-itself (the Greek mind from Aristotle to the present day) to Christian being-in-relation. The Church has understood the meaning of the human person as constitutively relational as “for” other, and not “in-self.” This transformed the explanation of matrimony from a contractual relation between individuals to a covenant of persons. Relation for individuals is metaphysically accidental; the relation of husband and wife is constitutively relational as self-gift.

                    The dynamic of relation as constitutive means that the person cannot be person except by being related to and develop as person without transcending self as gift to other. This is the meaning of “communion” magisterially. Hence, the act of forgiveness does not do away with the ontological density of the human person, but rather constitutes it. Therefore, forgiveness builds and rebuilds the person to be capable of fidelity and giftedness. In a word, forgiveness builds the enlightened metaphysics implicit in the meaning of person in Vatican II. Hence, I would simply like to offer to the thinking such as Moynihan’s that we are working with a different epistemological horizon and metaphysical constitution. Consequently, instead of leaving the moral horizon in shambles after restoring people to grace [pace that it was not this way – divorce – from the beginning], if the pope opts for forgiveness with the necessary conditions of repentance, etc. and ability to approach the sacrament of the Eucharist and living a full Chistian/Catholic life.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Pope Francis' Letter to Davos, Switzerland

The text of the letter by Pope Francis.

To Professor Klaus Schwab
Executive President of the World Economic Forum

Before all else, I would like to thank you for your gracious invitation to address the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum in Davos-Klosters at the end of January on the theme: “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

I offer you my cordial good wishes for the fruitfulness of this meeting, which seeks to encourage continuing social and environmental responsibility through a constructive dialogue on the part of government, business and civic leaders, as well as distinguished representatives of the political, financial and cultural sectors.

The dawn of the so-called “fourth industrial revolution” has been accompanied by a growing sense of the inevitability of a drastic reduction in the number of jobs.

The latest studies conducted by the International Labour Organization indicate that unemployment presently affects hundreds of millions of people.

The financialization and technologization of national and global economies have produced far-reaching changes in the field of labour. Diminished opportunities for useful and dignified employment, combined with a reduction in social security, are causing a disturbing rise in inequality and poverty in different countries.

Clearly there is a need to create new models of doing business which, while promoting the development of advanced technologies, are also capable of using them to create dignified work for all, to uphold and consolidate social rights, and to protect the environment. Man must guide technological development, without letting himself be dominated by it!

To all of you I appeal once more: “Do not forget the poor!” This is the primary challenge before you as leaders in the business world. “Those who have the means to enjoy a decent life, rather than being concerned with privileges, must seek to help those poorer than themselves to attain dignified living conditions, particularly through the development of their human, cultural, economic and social potential” (Address to Civic and Business Leaders and the Diplomatic Corps, Bangui, 29 November 2015).

We must never allow the culture of prosperity to deaden us, to make us incapable of “feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and sensing the need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own” (Evangelii Gaudium, 54).

Weeping for other people’s pain does not only mean sharing in their sufferings, but also and above all realizing that our own actions are a cause of injustice and inequality. “Let us open our eyes, then, and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity, and let us recognize that we are compelled to heed their cry for help! May we reach out to them and support them so they can feel the warmth of our presence, our friendship, and our fraternity! May their cry become our own, and together may we break down the barriers of indifference that too often reign supreme and mask our hypocrisy and egoism!” (Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Misericordiae Vultus, 15).

Once we realize this, we become more fully human, since responsibility for our brothers and sisters is an essential part of our common humanity. Do not be afraid to open your minds and hearts to the poor. In this way, you will give free rein to your economic and technical talents, and discover the happiness of a full life, which consumerism of itself cannot provide.

In the face of profound and epochal changes, world leaders are challenged to ensure that the coming “fourth industrial revolution”, the result of robotics and scientific and technological innovations, does not lead to the destruction of the human person – to be replaced by a soulless machine – or to the transformation of our planet into an empty garden for the enjoyment of a chosen few.

On the contrary, the present moment offers a precious opportunity to guide and govern the processes now under way, and to build inclusive societies based on respect for human dignity, tolerance, compassion and mercy.

I urge you, then, to take up anew your conversation on how to build the future of the planet, “our common home”, and I ask you to make a united effort to pursue a sustainable and integral development.

As I have often said, and now willingly reiterate, business is “a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world”, especially “if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129).

As such, it has a responsibility to help overcome the complex crisis of society and the environment, and to fight poverty. This will make it possible to improve the precarious living conditions of millions of people and bridge the social gap which gives rise to numerous injustices and erodes fundamental values of society, including equality, justice and solidarity.

In this way, through the preferred means of dialogue, the World Economic Forum can become a platform for the defence and protection of creation and for the achievement of a progress which is “healthier, more human, more social, more integral” (Laudato Si’, 112), with due regard also for environmental goals and the need to maximize efforts to eradicate poverty as set forth in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and in the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Mr President, with renewed good wishes for the success of the forthcoming meeting in Davos, I invoke upon you and upon all taking part in the Forum, together with your families, God’s abundant blessings.


From the Vatican, 30 December 2015
+ FRANCISCUS