Thursday, January 10, 2008

The "Parrhesia" (Daring) of Benedict XVI

The Deep Message of Benedict XVI, spoken with “Parrhesia” (daring): Heaven is Not a Place. Men are Not Souls.

“The parrhesia [1]of faith must be matched by the boldness of reason”[2]

The positive part which the title contradicts is: Heaven and men are persons. Heaven is not a place; men are not souls. To put the message this way is epistemologically huge, in fact shocking. It changes the entire architecture of what we have come to understand as “reality.” It is shocking to the way we think. But this is precisely the point.

The “way” we think is to experience sensibly, to abstract from that experience, to construct - within that abstraction - symbols/signs that we call concepts, form propositions from which we establish propositions that we link with others and induce or deduce to conclusions that we then compare with the sensible reality from which we started.

Vatican II and John Paul II have not been understood for this very reason. Both are talking about a real experience that is not sensible reality. They are talking the “I” – real being – that is a resonating “process” (“man, the only earthly being God has loved for itself, finds himself by the sincere gift of himself;” Gaudium et spes #24) rather than as “thing-in-itself” (substance).

The task that Benedict XVI has taken on is precisely to attempt to render Vatican II and the 14 encyclicals of John Paul II intelligible to the modern mind. But that will demand a “raising of consciousness” of the modern mind. On October 16, 2005, he remarked on Polish television: “Initially, in speaking of the Pope's legacy, I forgot to mention the many documents that he left us -- 14 encyclicals, many pastoral letters, and others. All this is a rich patrimony that has not yet been assimilated by the Church. My personal mission is not to issue many new documents, but to ensure that his documents are assimilated, because they are a rich treasure, they are the authentic interpretation of Vatican II. We know that the Pope was a man of the Council, that he internalized the spirit and the word of the Council. Through these writings he helps us understand what the Council wanted and what it didn’t. This helps us to be the Church of our times and of the future.”

Since the parrhesia of God is His un-concealment in the Person of Jesus Christ, faith as the total gift of self is a parrhesia in return. And faith seeks understanding as we saw in the encounter of Old Testament faith with the pagan Greek mind in Babylon. There the Scriptures were composed in the fifth century because Israel, having lost its land and its customs, was beginning to lose its faith. Ratzinger remarks: “Israel always believed in the Creator God (but) (t)he moment when creation became a dominant theme occurred during the Babylonian Exile. It was then that the account… based, to be sure, on very ancient traditions- assumed its present form. Israel had lost its land and its temple. According to the mentality of the time this was something incomprehensible, for it meant that the God of Israel was vanquished – a God whose people, whose land, and whose worshipers could be snatched away from him. A God who could not defend his worshipers and his worship was seen to be, at the time, a weak God. Indeed, he was not God at all; he had abandoned his divinity. And so, being driven out of their own land and being erased from the map was for Israel a terrible trial: Has our God been vanquished, and is our faith void?

“At this moment the prophets opened a new page and taught Israel that it was only then that the true face of God appeared and that he was not restricted to that particular piece of land. He had never been: He had promised this piece of land to Abraham before he settled there, and he had been able to bring his people out of Egypt. He could do both things because he was not the God of one place but had power over heaven and earth. Therefore he could drive his faithless people into another land in order to make himself known there. And so it came to be understood that this God of Israel was not a God like the other gods, but that he was the God who held sway over every land and people. He could do this, however, because he himself had created everything in heaven and earth. It was in exile and in seeming defeat of Israel that there occurred an opening to the awareness of God who holds every people and all of history in his hands, who holds everything because he is the creator of everything and the source of all power.”[3]

The Present Crisis of Faith: An Occult but Most Dangerous Atheism.

We know about God conceptually, by we do not experience Him directly within ourselves.

A similar epistemological crisis has set in for us now after 400 years of Enlightenment rationalism. If you can’t feel it and touch it, it is not real. The self has been relegated to pure consciousness and feeling, and is quite alone and individualized. Faith is reduced to a series of dogmas and creeds that are philosophically rendered as concepts, and orthodoxy consists in having the “right” ideas and becomes identified with “conservatism.” This conservatism looks toward the realization of those ideas in domestic, economic and political life which masquerades as a thinly veiled theocracy called “Christendom.” The blatant evil is “secular humanism” which co-ops the word secularity, if not the concept which involves theonomous freedom.

We masquerade with a veneer of religious performance and doctrinal orthodoxy but there is a lack of intimacy of the ontological self with Jesus Christ. This is best seen in the exegesis of the relation of John the Baptist with Jesus.

Ratzinger’s Exegesis of John the Baptist: The scriptural narrative yields the paradigm example. I transcribe from Ratzinger:

[Keep in mind that John had a visual take on the divinity of Jesus Christ. When Christ came to be baptized, “heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form as a dove, and a voice came from heaven, ‘Thou are my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased’” (Lk. 22). He saw and heard the divine signs, but for all the input of sensible experience of those signs, John did not reach the level of the divinity of the Person of Christ. To do that, he would have to go through the experience of conversion that was to take place in the Ratzinger’s narrative below.]

“John’s real suffering, the real recasting as it were of his entire being in relation to God, began in earnest with the activity of Christ during the time when he John, was in prison. The darkness of the prison cell was not the most fearful darkness John had to endure. The true darkness was what Martin Buber has called ‘the eclipse of God;’ the abrupt uncertainty John experienced regarding his own mission and the identity of the one whose way he had sought to prepare.

“In words of burning power John had prophesied the coming of the judge and had painted in fiery colors the great day of the Lord. He had portrayed the Messiah as the judge with the winnowing fan in his hand that would separate the chaff from the grain and throw the chaff once and for all into eternal fire. He had portrayed him as one who would cast out this adulterous generation and, if need by, raise up children of Abraham from the very stones to replace the faithless people who called themselves the children of Abraham. Above all, amid the fearful ambivalence of this world where we are constantly waiting and hoping in darkness, John had expected and proclaimed a clear message: that the day would finally come when the hopeless darkness would be dispelled in which human beings wander to and fro and know not where they are going. The ambiguity would disappear, and men would no longer have to grope their way in the endless mist but would know for certain that this and no other is God’s unequivocal claim on them, that this and no other is their situation in relation to God.

“Meanwhile at God’s command, John’s prophetic finger was pointing out a man. ‘Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ (Jn. 1, 29). God’s presence had begun… but what a difference from what John had imagined! No fire fell from heaven to consume sinners and bear definitive witness to the just; in fact, nothing changed at all in the present world. Jesus went about preaching and doing good in the land, but the ambiguity remained. Human life continued t o be a dark mystery to which people had to entrust themselves with faith and hope amid the world’s darkness.

“Clearly, it was this utterly different personality of Jesus that most tormented John during the long nights in prison: The eclipse of God continued, and the imperturbable advance of a history that was so often a slap in the face to believers. In his distress John sent messengers to the Lord: Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ (Mt. 11, 3)… ‘Are you really he: the Redeemer of the world? Are you really here now as the Redeemer? Was that really all that God had to say to us?’

“In answer, Jesus reminds John’s messengers of what the prophet Isaiah had said in foretelling precisely this kind of peaceful, merciful Messiah who ‘will not cry or lift up his voice, preaching and doing good. Jesus adds the significant words: ‘Blessed is he who takes no offense at me.’ This means that it is in fact possible for men to take offense at him. Even when he comes he does not bring such absolute clarity to the human situation as to eliminate all questions and solve all riddles; people can take offense at him, but ‘Blessed is he who takes no offense.’ Blessed is he who ceases to ask for signs and absolute certainty. Blessed is he who is able, even in this darkness, to go his way in faith and love.

“This was probably the final task set the Baptist as he lay in prison: to become blessed by this unquestioning acceptance of God’s obscure will; to reach the point of asking no further for external, visible, unequivocal clarity, but, instead, of discovering God precisely in the darkness of this world and of his own life, and thus becoming profoundly blessed. In point of fact, we cannot see God as we see an apple tree or a neon sign, that is, in a purely external way that requires no interior commitment. We can see him only be becoming like him, by reaching the level of reality on which God exists; in other words, by being liberated from what is anti-divine: the quest for pleasure, enjoyment, possessions, gain, or, in a word, from ourselves. In the final analysis it is usually the self that stands between us and God. We can see God only if we turn around, stop looking for him as we might look for a street sings and dollar bills, and begin looking away from the visible to the invisible.

“John, then, even in his prison cell had to respond once again and anew to this own call for metanoia or a change of mentality, in order that he might recognize his God in the night in which all things earthly exist. ‘Blessed is he who takes no offense at me.’

“The Christian of our day, too, can be shown no other way to friendship with God than the way of ceasing to look for external clarity and beginning to turn from the visible to the invisible and thus truly finding the Lord who is the real foundation and support of our existence. Only when we act in this manner does another and doubtless the greatest saying of the Baptist reveal its full significance: ‘He must increase, but I must decreases’ (Jn. 3, 30). We will know God to the extent that we are set free from ourselves. This brings us back to the main theme of Advent: We will know God to the extent that we give him room to be present in us. A person can spend his life seeking God in vain if he does not enable God to continue in his life the presence begun.”[5]

How “Heaven” and “Souls” Came About!

The "Parrhesia" (daring) of Josef Ratzinger:

Ratzinger (1964)

The Expectation of Justice to Our Measure

And the Discrepancy!!!!



“`The time is accomplished: the kingdom of God has arrived.’ Behind this saying lies the whole history of Israel, that little people who had been a plaything for the great powers, who had sampled, so to speak, all the empires, one after another, that had ever arisen in that highly congested area of world history, and know about the profligacy of any and every human rule, even that by their own people. They knew all too well that, wherever men rule, it is done in a very human way – that is, frequently in a very miserable and questionable fashion. Through this experience of a history full of disappointments, full of servitude and of injustice, there had grown up in Israel the demand for a kingdom that would not be any human rule, but the kingdom of God himself; the kingdom of God, in which he, the true ruler of the world and of history, would reign supreme. He, who is himself truth and righteousness, ought to rule everyone, so that well-being and justice among men should at last really be the only ruling powers. The Lord is responding to the hopes, accumulated over centuries when he says: The time is not here; the kingdom of God has come. It is not difficult to understand the hopes aroused by such a saying. And our own disappointment, which sweeps over us when we look back at what has happened, is just as understandable.”[6]

The False Resolution to the Scandal: Create a Heaven “Above” Space and “Outside” of Time

The Kingdom of God is Not the kingdom of heaven:

Ratzinger’s Daring Text: “Christian theology, which was very soon confronted by this discrepancy between expectation and fulfillment, in the course of time turned the kingdom of God into a kingdom of heaven that is beyond this mortal life; the well-being of men became a salvation of souls, which again comes to pass beyond this life, after death. But theology did not thereby provide an answer. For what is sublime in this message is precisely that the Lord was talking not just about another life, not just about men’s souls, but was addressing the body, the whole man, in his embodied form, with his involvement in history and society; that he promised the kingdom of God to the man who lives bodily with other men in this history. As marvelous as the knowledge is that has been opened up for us by biblical scholarship in our century (that is, that Christ was not just looking forward to another life, but was talking about real people), it can also disappoint and unsettle us when we look at real history, which is in truth no kingdom of God.”[7]

To settle the epistemological landscape, recall Ratzinger’s remarks on Advent: that God did not drop out of eternity like a meteor and suddenly pitch his tent among us 2,000 years ago; that before that God was not in time, and after that He is not here either – really. He explains the meaning of the genealogy of Jesus Christ: “In his genealogy Matthew carefully plots the transition from the long and bewildering history set down in the Old Testament to the new reality that has begun with Jesus Christ. He sums up, as it were, this entire history in three sets of fourteen names and brings it down to him for whose sake alone, in the last analysis, it had existed. He shows that as it traveled its many ways and byways this history was, in a hidden manner, already bringing forth Christ; that during those centuries it was already, and at every point, one and the same God who was visiting his people and who now, in Jesus Christ, had become a brother to the human race. He brings out the inherent finality of history, which in the last analysis had no higher purpose than to produce this man Jesus.” Ratzinger specifies that the word “Advent” is a Latin translation for parousia “which means ‘presence’ or, more accurately ‘arrival,’ i.e., the beginning of a presence”[8].[9] He is saying that the goal of the whole creation is Jesus Christ, who is already present in the whole of creation from the very beginning, and toward whom the whole is tending by a kind of “super-evolution” in God’s original intention, mentioned in St. Paul: “For all things are your, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas; or the world, or life, or death; or things present, or things to come – all are your, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Cor. 3, 22-23). He goes on: “Advent reminds us, therefore, of two things: first, that God’s presence in the world has already begun, that he is present though in a hidden manner; second, that his presence has only begun and is not yet full and complete, that it is in a state of development, of becoming and progressing toward its full form. His presence has already begun, and we, the faithful, are the ones through whom he wishes to be present in the world.”

Let me add, by way of reminder, the experience of St. Josemaria Escriva on August 7, 1931 when he heard Christ’s words recorded in St. John 12, 32: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all things to myself,” and the meaning of the words: that He wanted to placed at the summit of all human activities by the conversion of each of us into being “other Christs.”[10]

And let me add further exegetical theology of Benedict XVI on the nature of the Kingdom of God. To cut to the chase, the kingdom of God is a Person, and we become that kingdom of God insofar as we become “other Christs.” The kingdom, then, is wherever we are. The Kingdom of God is “personal” and is present and hidden and present now as persons are present and hidden to us.[11]

The Kingdom of Heaven

Perhaps the most daring statement - and for that the most clarifying – is the following:
“(H)eaven 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.”[12]

The Integral Text: “What, then, is the meaning of Christ’s ‘ascension into heaven’? It expresses our belief that in Christ 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.”

“The basis for this assertion is the interpenetration of humanity and divinity in the crucified and exalted man Jesus. Christ, the man who is in God and eternally one with God, is at the same time God’s abiding openness to all human beings. Thus Jesus himself is what we call ‘heaven.’”[13]

Ascension into Heaven is the Assumption of the humanity of Jesus into the Person of the Christ:

Ratzinger: “Thus the Logos adopts the being of the man Jesus into his own being and speaks of it in terms of his own I: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me’ (Jn. 6, 38). In the Son’s obedience, where both wills become one in a single Yes to the will of the Father, communion takes place between human and divine being. The ‘wondrous exchange,’ the ‘alchemy of being,’ is realized here as a liberating and reconciling communication, which becomes a communion between Creator and creature. It is in the pain of this exchange, and only here, that that fundamental change takes place in man, the change which alone can redeem him and transform the conditions of the world. Here community is born, here the Church comes into being. The act whereby we participate in the Son’s obedience, which involves man’s genuine transformation, is also the only really effective contribution toward renewing and transforming society and the world as a whole. Only where this act takes place is there a change for good – in the direction of the kingdom of God.”[14]

The text of Chalcedon (451): 2 natures-one person: the definition presumes a static philosophy of nature.

“Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all teach that with one accord we confess one and the same son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in human nature, truly God and the same with a rational soul and a body truly man, consubstantial with the Father according to divinity, and consubstantial with us, according to human nature, like unto us in all things except sin,; indeed born of the Father before the ages according to divine nature, but in the last days the same born of the virgin Mary, Mother of God according to human nature; for us and for our deliverance, one and the same Christ only begotten Son our Lord, acknowledged in two natures, without mingling, without change, indivisibly, undividedly, the distinction of the natures nowhere removed on account of the union but rather the peculiarity of each nature being kept, and uniting in one person and substance, not divided or separated into two persons, but one and the same son only begotten God Word, Lord Jesus Christ, just as from the beginning the prophets taught about Him and the Lord Jesus Himself taught us, and the creed of our fathers has handed down to us.”

The Text of Constantinople III (680-681): Not merely two natures, but two autonomous and dynamic wills exercised by the same divine Person Who says “Yes” through them both as a single “Yes.” This gives us “compenetration” rather than “parallelism” that has engendered all the dualisms: supernatural/natural; grace/nature; faith/reason; church/state; priest/layman, etc.

“And we proclaim equally two natural volitions or wills in him and two natural principles of action which undergo no division, no change, no partition, no confusion, in accordance with the teaching of the holy fathers. And the two natural wills not in opposition, as the impious heretics said, far from it, but his human will following, and not resisting or struggling, rather in fact subject to his divine and all powerful will. For the will of the flesh had to be moved, and yet to be subjected to the divine will, according to the most wise Athanasius. For just as his flesh is said to be and is flesh of the Word of God, so too the natural will of his flesh is said to and does belong to the Word of God, just as he says himself: I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of the Father who sent me, calling his own will that of his flesh, since his flesh too became his own. For in the same way that his all holy and blameless animate flesh was not destroyed in being made divine but remained in its own limit and category, so his human will as well was not destroyed by being made divine, but rather was preserved, according to the theologian Gregory, who says: "For his willing, when he is considered as saviour, is not in opposition to God, being made divine in its entirety"… Therefore, protecting on all sides the "no confusion" and "no division", we announce the whole in these brief words: Believing our lord Jesus Christ, even after his incarnation, to be one of the holy Trinity and our true God, we say that he has two natures [naturas] shining forth in his one subsistence[subsistentia] in which he demonstrated the miracles and the sufferings throughout his entire providential dwelling here, not in appearance but in truth, the difference of the natures being made known in the same one subsistence in that each nature wills and performs the things that are proper to it in a communion with the other; then in accord with this reasoning we hold that two natural wills and principles of action meet in correspondence for the salvation of the human race.

"The key to understanding the unity of the divine and human in Christ is to understand that there is one divine Person Who has taken the humanity of the man Jesus of Nazareth epitomized in the human will as His own. It is critical to understand that it is not the will that wills, but the person. That is, the divine Person wills with His own human will. Only this can make sense of Jn. 6, 38: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.” The divine “I” does not do His own human will, but that of the Father. The dynamic of self-mastery consists in the Person subduing the human will that has been “made to be sin” (2 Cor. 5, 21).
[15] In a word, this is the radical self-gift of the Son as God-man."
Put more clearly, the relation of the divine and the human in Christ is not a parallelism of two natures bound together by the commonality of a Person as substance in itself. Rather, it is the compenetration of the divine and the human by the fact that the divine Person has taken the human will as His own and He, the divine Person, wills with the human will. The result is the “compenetration” of the two “wills,” the divine and the human because it is one and the same Person doing the willing.
And yet, the human will does not lose its autonomy and freedom, but rather has it radically enhanced by the fact that it is a divine Person living out the Trinitarian relation to the Father, now as man with a human will.

“Going to Heaven” = “Becoming Christ”

“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2, 20):

“To explain … that becoming and being a Christian rest upon conversion would still be much too weak a way of putting things. This is not to deny that such an interpretation is aiming in the right direction, but the point is that conversion in the Pauline sense is something much more radical than, say, the revision of a few opinions and attitudes. It is a death-event. In other words, it is an exchange of the old subject for another. The `I’ ceases to be an autonomous subject standing in itself. It is snatched away from itself and fitted into a new subject. The `I’ is not simply submerged, but it must really release its grip on itself in order then to receive itself anew in and together with a greater `I’
“In the Letter to the Galatians, the fundamental intuition about the nature of conversion – that it is the surrender of the old isolated subjectivity of the `I’ in order to find oneself within the unity of anew subject, which bursts the limits of the `I,’ thus making possible contact with the ground of all reality – appears again with new emphases in another context. Paul, with the help of the antithesis between the law and the promise, is pursuing the question whether man can, as it were, create himself on his own or whether he must receive himself as a gift. While doing so, he emphasizes quite vigorously that the promise was issued only in the singular. It is intended, not for a mass of juxtaposed subjects, but for `the offspring of Abraham’ in the singular (Gal 3, 16). There is only one bearer of the promise, outside of which is the chaotic world of self-realization where men compete with one another and desire to compete with God but succeed merely in working right past their true hope.”[8]Ratzinger then tops it off with this eye-opening hermeneutic of Paul:
St. Paul says: “As in an organism there are many members working in harmony, so it is with Christ” (1 Cor. 12, 12).Ratzinger does the exegesis:
“Paul does not say `as in an organism there are many members working in harmony, so too in the Church,’ as if he were proposing a purely sociological model of the Church, but at the very moment when he leaves behind the ancient simile, he shifts the idea to an entirely different level He affirms, in fact, that, just as there is one body but many members, `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. It is an application of the same Christological singular found in the Letter to the Galatians. Here, too, it has a sacramental reference, though this time it points to the Eucharist, whose essence Paul defines two chapters before in the bold assertion: `Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body’ (10, 17)… soma, may be translated as `one subject…”[9]This is startling. We must understand that we are being invited to enter into a new epistemological horizon, that of the “I.” In this horizon, the being of the “I” is, as they say, “constitutively” relational (to distinguish it from the “accidentally” relational), in the sense that I, as image of the Trinitarian Persons who are nothing but Relation (“I and the Father are one" (Jn. 10, 30); "the Father is greater than I” (Jn.14, 29) “find myself… by the sincere gift of myself” (Gaudium et Spes #24)

The Conclusion: Contemplative Secularity[16]

“You must realize now, more clearly than ever, that God is calling you to serve him in and from the ordinary, secular, and civil activities of human life. He waits for us everyday, in the laboratory, in the operating theater, in the army barracks, in the university chair, in the factory, in the workshop, in the fields, in the home, and in all the immense panorama of work. Understand this well: there is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it.”

“I often said to the university students and workers who were with me in the thirties that they had to know how to materialize their spiritual lives. I wanted to warn them of the temptation, so common then and now, to lead a kind of double life: on the one hand, an inner life, a life related to God; and on the other, as something separate and distinct, their professional, social, and family lives, made up of small earthly realities.

“No, my children! We cannot lead a double life. We cannot have a split personality if we want to be Christians. There is only one life, made of flesh and spirit. And it is that life which has to become, in both body and soul, holy and filled with God: we discover the invisible God in the most visible and material things.

There is no other way, my daughters and sons: either we learn to find our Lord in ordinary, everyday life, or we shall never find him. That is why I tell you that our age needs to give back to matter and to the apparently trivial events of life their noble, original meaning. It needs to place them at the service of the kingdom of God; it needs to spiritualize them, turning them into a means and an occasion for a continuous meeting with Jesus Christ.”[17]

Rev. Robert A. Connor

January11, 2008

[1] A related use of parrhesia is found in the Greek New Testament, where it means "bold speech," the ability of believers to hold their own in discourse before political and religious authorities (e.g. Acts 4:13: "Now when they saw the boldness [την παρρησίαν] of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus."). See Heinrich Schlier, "παρρησία, παρρησιάζομαι," Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich, Eds. Ann Arbor: Eerdmans, 1967. Vol. V, pp. 871ff. “Parrhesia” appears in Psalm 79 as “O Shepherd of Israel… shine forth before Ephraim…”

[2] John Paul II, “Fides et ratio,” #48.
[3] J. Ratzinger, “In the Beginning…” Eerdmans (1995) 10-12.
[4] The core of the philosophic work of Karol Wojtyla centers on the experience the “I” has of itself. This experience of self-determination in every moral moment is the experience – and therefore, the consciousness – of self-mastery that is the unique moment of freedom. The only being that I have the freedom to control is myself. That experience of existentially shaping who I am in each of the moments in which personal freedom is exercised in this self-mastery is totally unique to me. I cannot experience that self-determination in another self. But in a community of common action, I can “transfer” to another the experience and the consciousness that accrues to it, to another, and therefore “know” another “from within” by the transference of that experience and its consciousness to that other.
This is the philosophic basis of the theological epistemology of Simon-son-of-John – when praying with Jesus - being able to say to Jesus (Who is the constant act of prayer to the Father), “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16, 16). Like is known by like. Since the human person, as image of the divine relations, is constitutively relational in potency awaiting act, Simon’s being is transformed from being merely potentially relational to actually being relational by the act of praying with Jesus (Lk. 9, 18). Hence, Jesus changes his name from Simon to His own as “Rock:” Peter. Hence, the only way to “re-cognize” Jesus the Christ (the Son of God) in Jesus of Nazareth (the son of man) is to make the gift of self in prayer. This explains the re-cognition of God in the Child hidden in the decayed Throne of David – the stable – in the Davidic town of Bethlehem. It also explains our task to re-cognize Christ in the ordinary hiddenness of secular life, and thus enter into the realism that the “place” of heaven as the Kingdom of God is here and now in persons who have become “other Christ.” The great task is to give the secular here and now its true ontological and divinizing weight.
[5] J. Ratzinger, “Dogma and Preaching,” Franciscan Herald Press (1985) 74-77.
[6] J. Ratzinger, “What It Means to Be a Christian,” Ignatius (2006) 27-28.
[7] Ibid
[8] Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium #48 says in this regard: “The end of the ages is already with us (1 Cor 10, 11: “Now all these things happened to them as a type, and they were written for our correction, upon whom the final age of the world has come”). The renewal of the world has been established, and cannot be revoked. IN our era it is in a true sense anticipated: the church on earth already sealed oby genuine, if imperfect, holiness…”
[9] J. Ratzinger, “Dogma and Preaching,” Franciscan Herald Press (1985) 71-72.
[10] Andres Vazquez de Prada, “The Founder of Opus Dei,” Volume I: The Early Years, Scepter (2001) 287: “A voice, perfectly clear as always, said, Et ego, si exaltatus fuero a terra, omnia traham ad me ipsum! [‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself!’ (Jn. 12, 32). “And here is what I mean by this: I am not saying it in the sense in which it is said in Scripture. I say it to you meaning that you should put me at the pinnacle of all human activities, so that in every place in the world there will be Christians with a dedication that is personal and totally free – Christians who will be other Christs.”
[11]From my blog on November 29, 2007 where “Kingdom of God, 2007” is developed in full:” Benedict XVI: “Speaking of God, we are touching precisely on the subject which, in Jesus’ earthly preaching, was his main focus. The fundamental subject of this preaching is God’s realm, the ‘Kingdom of God.’ This does not mean something that will come to pass at one time or another in an indeterminate future. Nor does it mean that better the better world which we seek to created, step by step, with our own strength. In the term ‘Kingdom of God,’ the word ‘God’ is a subjective genitive. This means: God is not something added to the ‘Kingdom’ which one might even perhaps drop.“God is the subject. Kingdom of God actually means: God reigns. He himself is present and crucial to human beings in the world. He is the subject, and wherever this subject is absent, nothing remains of Jesus’ message.“Therefore, Jesus tells us: the Kingdom of God does not come in such a way that one may, so to speak, line the wayside to watch its arrival. ‘The Kingdom of God is in the midst of you!’ (cf. Lk. 17, 20ff).“It develops wherever God’s will is done. It is present wherever there are people who are open to his arrival and so let God enter the world. Thus, Jesus is the Kingdom of God in person: the man in whom God is among us and through whom we can touch God, draw close to God. Wherever this happens, the world is saved.” (Benedict XVI, Bavaria, September 14, 2006).
[12] J. Ratzinger “Dogma and Preaching,” Franciscan Herald Press (1985) 63
[13] Ibid
[14] J. Ratzinger, “Behold the Pierced One,” Ignatius (1986) 92.
[15] “Made to be sin” is to enter into the loneliness of sin as the rejection of the Triune God, and therefore of the others. This is Benedict’s interpretation of Jesus death cry, `My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ (Mark 15, 34) which is the first and only time that Jesus refers to the Father as “El” and not as “Abba.” Benedict says: “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;” “Introduction to Christianity,” op. cit 227.
[16] See Christifideles laici, #15 and Gaudium et spes #36.
[17] St. Josemaria Escriva, “Passionately Loving the World,” A homily delivered at a Mass celebrated for the Friends of the University of Navarre in October, 1967 (5-6.).


Anonymous said...

Fr. Connor:

This post sounds a lot like a combination of the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle with Teilhard de Chardin.

Kentucky Scot

Rev. Robert A. Connor said...

Dear Kentucky Scot,
If I'm not understanding and quoting incorrectly, it is pure Benedict XVI. Could you clarify the meaning of the Power of Now and Teilhard? RAC