Monday, March 21, 2016

Thoughts Prior To the Definitive Document of Francis on Family

I sent out a false alarm because of a blurb in Robert Moynihan’s blog that 200 page document on the two synods on the family would be out March 19, 2016. Recent suggestions say that it will out next Monday, the day after Easter. The blurb, copying words of Cardenal Walter Kasper, had seismic dimensions to it by saying the following: "In a few days, on March 19, a document of about 200 pages will come out in which Pope Francis will express himself definitively on the themes of the family addressed during the recent Synod, and in particular on the participation of the faithful who are divorced and remarried in the active life of the Catholic community

"This will be the first step of a reform that will make the Church turn a page after 1700 years." 

"We must not repeat formulas of the past and barricade ourselves behind the wall of exclusivism and clericalism, the Church must live (in) our times and understand how to interpret them." 
 —Cardinal Walter Kasper, in the northern Italian city of Lucca, on Monday, March 14, at a parish church, commenting on the upcoming papal document on the Bishops' Synod on the Family

It is quite exciting to consider Pope Francis’ centering on the family now as the mainspring for a global revolution when you put it together with St. Josemaria Escriva’s central observation that there is a quid divinumto be found in the most ordinary circumstances and it is up to us to find it. That is, it is not a case of looking for a center of power to occupy in order to do great things for God and man, but rather to begin to make the gift of oneself in the daily grind in the unspectacular and humdrum of secular life.
   Notice how this plays out in the thought of Pope Francis. On the occasion of the Jubilee of the year 2,000, he issued (as archbishop) “a rallying cry for Argentina “to recover ‘the adventure of anew nation’ and to be reborn in the promise of the pioneers who began our fatherland.’ That meant, he said, restoring social bonds and solidarity, and reaching out to the young, the jobless, the migrants and the elderly. He again pointed to the growth in community organizations as a sign of hope, and called on the politicians to ‘make the community the protagonist.’ But he presented the grim image – the prophetic, as it turned out - of a people profoundly disillusioned with their self-referential politicians, incapable of generating the solidarity needed for a functioning democracy.
   In the interview with Anthony Spadaro S.J., Pope Francis offered the following profundity:  “God manifests himself in historical revelation, in history. Time initiates processes, and space crystallizes them. God is in history, in the processes.
“We must not focus on occupying the spaces where power is exercised, but rather on starting long-run historical processes. We must initiate processes rather than occupy spaces. God manifests himself in time and is present in the processes of history. This gives priority to actions that give birth to new historical dynamics. And it requires patience, waiting.
“Finding God in all things is not an ‘empirical eureka.’ When we desire to encounter God, we would like to verify him immediately by an empirical method. But you cannot meet God this way. God is found in the gentle breeze perceived by Elijah. The senses that find God are the ones St. Ignatius called spiritual senses. Ignatius asks us to open our spiritual sensitivity to encounter God beyond a purely empirical approach. A contemplative attitude is necessary: it is the feeling that you are moving along the good path of understanding and affection toward things and situations. Profound peace, spiritual consolation, love of God and love of all things in God—this is the sign that you are on this right path.”[1]
                The point being that the quid divinum is the family as the incubator and communion where human persons are generated, nourished and formed. When speaking of Argentina as country in the year 2000, he said that “We need to recognize, with humility, that the system has fallen into a broad umbral cone, into the shadow lands of distrust, in which many of the promises and statements sound like a funeral cortege. Everyone consoles the bereaved, but nobody resurrects the corpse. Get up! This is the call of Jesus in the Jubilee. Arise, Argentina! As the Holy Father (John Paul II) said to us on his last visit, and as our pioneers and founders dreamed. But until we face up to the duplicity of our motives there will be neither trust nor peace. Until we are converted, we will not know happiness and joy. Because unchecked ambition, whether for power, money, or popularity, expresses only a great interior emptiness. And those who are empty do not generate peace, joy, and hope, only suspicion. They do not create bonds.”[2]
                Hence, just before the opening of the Synod, he referred to the family as “a new alliance of man and woman [that] becomes not only necessary but also strategic for the emancipation of people from the colonization of money. This alliance must return to orientate politics, the economy and civil coexistence! It decides the habitability of the earth, the transmission of the meaning of life, the bonds of memory and of hope. Of this alliance, the conjugal-family community of man and woman is the generative grammar, the “golden bond….” – the transformative power of the new civilization of love.

Hence, the family as the “quid divinum” that must be rejuvenated and entrenched at the very core of historical reality. It will emancipate the human person from “the colonization of money,” renew the habitability of the earth (“Laudato Si’”), “reorient politics and civil coexistence,” “transmit the meaning of life,” and thus make arise a new culture that the Magisterium has called “the civilization of love.” At the same time, the regeneration of the family will form a new generation of persons whose self-gift will change the epistemological prism through which all reality is viewed. That prism is the human person whose prototype is the God-Man Jesus Christ. This civilization will be secular as Jesus Christ is the meaning of secularity, secularity meaning the autonomy (freedom) of self-determination.

            The divine Person of Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, has assumed a created body and soul with the faculties of intellect and will. That human  created will has been assumed by the divine “I” of the Son of God as “His” and wills the gift of Himself to the Father for us.  Attention: the human will of Christ does not will. Only Persons will. Hence, the human willing of Christ is the will of the divine Person of the Son. Hence, the freedom and autonomy of that will (created and human) is medium of the Self-giving of the Son to the Father. That will is not an “instrument” of the Son but the Son Himself willing [Actiones sunt suppositorum: only person act].

            Therefore, the kind of loving and living that is family imaging Trinitarian Life is a “divine something” that will transform the entire social order, yielding a new culture and civilization.

            Hence, what Francis is doing is not lamenting the human collapse of the culture from Isis to Wall Street, but resurrecting the corpse from the bottom – the family – up.

            Concerning the Eucharist for the divorced/remarried, of course, I don’t know what’s in the document. However, the solution must take place in a different epistemological horizon than Greek objectified “nature,” concepts, syllogism and principles. It will have to take place in the horizon of Christian anthropology which is the horizon of the person which is accessed by another kind of experience than empirical sensation and abstraction. It must be within a consciousness of the self going out of the self as the knowledge of Christ is available only by matching His experience of going out of self. Both levels of experience must be involved – that of subject and that of object.

            Christ’s forgiveness of the woman caught in adultery,  forgiven (subject) and told to sin no more (object); the father of the prodigal son who forgives him (subject), but loves the son who has been obedient to the law (object) – reveals the God of Jesus Christ. Somehow, we are like the physicists at the turn of the last century who found that matter is both particle and wave, not either-or, but both-and, and that their mode of understanding had to change. Newtonian physics worked for the macro but not for the micro particles. The discovery of Ratzinger’s  generation of theology is that the God of Jesus Christ is One but only in the sense that the Father is the action of engendering the Son, the Son is the action of obeying and glorifying the Father, the Spirit as the personification of the Two. The divine Person are relations, and therefore so must be the persons who image them. Christ is teaching that mercy and law are compatible, nay, at the level of the Creator, identical. On the level of the Creator, Mercy is the Law of God, and Love is His Truth. If it is such in the Creator, it must be achieved in the creature. Let’s wait for the document.

[1] “A Big Heart Open to God” America September 30, 2013 Issue, Anthony Spadaro Interview.

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