Background Notes for Talk on Freedom

The Dignity and Freedom of the Human Person

 “If you abide in my word, you will be my disciple indeed; you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn. 8, 32).

“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn. 14, 1-7).       

“The Crucified Christ reveals the authentic meaning of freedom; he lives it fully in the total gift of himself and calls his disciples to share in his freedom” (Veritatis Splendor #85).

  The first question that must be asked concerning freedom, is “what is man?,” or, more profoundly, what do we mean by Person? And accepting the Judeo-Christian revelation of the Creating God, we must ask what does it mean to be Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Joseph Ratzinger, in his “Introduction to Christianity” (Ignatius (1990) 131-132 writes: “The First Person does not beget the Son in the sense of the act of begetting coming on top of the finished Person; it is the act of begetting, of giving oneself, of streaming forth. It is identical with the act of giving. Only as this act is it person, and therefore it is not the giver but the act of giving… In this idea of relativity 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, which describes something other and infinitely more than the mere idea of the ‘individual.’ (…) Therein lies concealed a revolution in man’s view of the world: the undivided sway 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. It is probably true to say that the task imposed on philosophy as a result of these facts is far from being complete   – so much does modern thought depend on the possibilities thus disclosed, but for which it would be inconceivable.”

That being so, consider the description of the human person – made in the image and likeness of the above: “Indeed, the Lord Jesus… implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God’s sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only earthly creature God has   willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself” (Gaudium et spes #24).

Conclusion: if God is the meaning of “to be” and a triple relation to Himself as Father, Son and Spirit, and man is made in His image after His likeness; and if God is free as totally Himself in this triple giftedness, then man is free only in making the gift of himself to God and others. 

   In Christian Revelation, only God is free. Ratzinger writes: “In the light of the Christian experience of God it becomes clear that the unrestricted ability to do anything and everything one wants has as its model an idol and not God. The real God is bound to himself in threefold love and is thus pure freedom. Man’s vocation is to be this image of God, to become like him. He or she must say yes to his or her need, yes to the other person, yes to creation, yes to the limitation and direction of his or her own nature. The person who can merely choose between arbitrary options is not yet free. The free person is only someone who takes the criteria for his or her action from within and needs to obey no external compulsion. For this reason the person who has become at one with his or her essential nature, at one with truth itself, is free. The person who is at one with the truth no longer acts according to external necessities and compulsions; in him or her nature, desire and action have come to coincide. In this way man within the finite can come into contact with the infinite, bind himself or herself to it and and thus, precisely by recognizing his or her limits, himself or herself become infinite. Thus at the end it becomes visible once again that the Christian doctrine of freedom is not some petty moralism. It is guided by a comprehensive vision of man: it sees man in a historical perspective that at the same transcends all history. The Instruction on Christian freedom and liberation was meant to be an aide to rediscovering this perspective in order to make it effective with all its strength in our contemporary world” J. Ratzinger, “Church, Ecumenism and Politics” Crossroad (1987) 274-275.  

The experience of the loss or absence of freedom as self-gift:

One woman’s examination of conscience:

  • I am consumed with self
  • I am lazy
  • I procrastinate
  • I am vain
  • I worry constantly what others will think
  • I pigeon hole people in categories, and don’t let them out
  • I complain
  • I am resentful
  • I cheat when no one is watching
  • I build myself up by negative concersations
  • I am afraid of not being up to “it”
  • I become defensive or aggressive (even shy) because of that lack of self-confidence
  •  I lie/I hide from God/I cheat God
  •  I am self righteous
  •  I condemn/I slander/I judge
  •  I criticize/I mock, ridicule and grumble
  •  I lament/ I seek self pity and praise
  • I want from others what I will not give to others
  • I want to be loved unconditionally without loving t he o thers unconditionally
  •  I am rash with others
  • I run from mortification
  • I am controlling and manipulative’
  • I take and do not give
  • I harbor resentments and grudges
  • I do not accept others as Christ does
  • I fail to see Christ in the others
  • I persecute others
  • I do not let go
  • Ii supersede God and usurp His authority y with my pride
  • I am selfish
  • I want  my way because I think it is the best and only way
  • I react instead of listening
  • I react instead of thinking and contemplating
  • I want the last word
  • I put down others to appear superior
  • I never publicly admit to being wrong
  • I yearn for recognition
  • I am disloyal
  • I want center stage – and control
  • I put off the hard thing and do the easy first
  • I am attached

   

In the revealed vision of God and man, we can ask, what is freedom? We can’t define freedom because freedom is the fundamental condition of the human person as image of God. To ask what is freedom is to ask what is the human person. Freedom is the primordial experience of man. The provocation to sin in the Garden was the “insinuation” that Adam and Eve were not to eat of a certain tree. As Ratzinger commented: “Temptation does not begin with the denial of God and with a fall into outright atheism. The serpent does not deny God; it starts out rather with an apparently … reasonable request for information, which in reality… contains an insinuation that provokes the human being and that lures him or her from trust to mistrust: ‘Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?’” (Genesis 3, 1). The first thing is not the denial of God but rather doubt about his covenant…”[1] Man was created and the Covenant had been established that man was to till the Garden and name the animals (work). Since He (Adam) was fashioned from the slime of the earth, he had to subdue himself in order to exercise the freedom of self-determination – a true freedom of autonomy – to obey the command of the Creator to work. And it is in this exercise of determining himself to obey – to be in reciprocal relation to the Creator, that he comes to the experience of being alone i.e. unique in the physical world.[2] And the experience of being alone (“The Original Solitude”) is the experience of being Person as the Creator is Person, and therefore  “free.” And so, we can say that man is a self-determining freedom. God is free in that He is in total possession of Himself as Being. Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father,  is free in that His divine “I” masters the human will that he assumed from the Virgin (explain) – and that had been loaded down with the burden of sin as turning toward self and non-relation – and subdues that contradiction by His obedience to death on the Cross. We can say that man is free as Jesus Christ is free. Jesus Christ is free as divine Person in total self-gift to the Father (obedience). The Father is free as  being nothing but the action of engendering the Son. His freedom is the action of being Father.

Prime statement of Christian Anthropology (Vatican II):

  • [Made in the image and likeness of the Three Divine Persons] “Man, the only earthly being God has willed for itself, finds himself by the sincere gift of himself”[3] (1965).
  • The originating source of that statement can be found in Wojtyla’s “Love and Responsibility”[4] There he states: “By giving man an intelligent and free nature, he has thereby ordained that each man alone will decide for himself the ends of his activity, and not be a blind tool of someone else’s ends. Therefore, if God intends to direct man towards certain goals, he allows him to know those goals, so that he may make them his own and strive towards them independently.”[5]

Therefore, although created, the human person is autonomous (in his own hands) as a subject and must master self to seek self or to master self to make the sincere gift of self. Since man is created in the image and likeness of the divine Persons, and only God is “good,”[6] one becomes “good” when determining self to be gift, and bad when determining to seek self. Therefore, The moral values of “good” and “evil” depend on the ontological “attitude” of going out self or seeking self. Moral value, then, is grounded in the being of the person.[7]

Modern Culture has developed in opposition to any objective ontological ground of moral value, to wit: “ought” cannot be derived from “is;” moral obligation is purely subjective    

The Christian understanding of freedom: Ratzinger goes further when he directly says that the revealed concept of person “was quite foreign in its inner disposition to the Greek and Latin mind. It is not conceived in substantialist, but… in existential terms. In this light, Boethius’s concept of person, which prevailed in Western philosophy, must be criticized as entirely insufficient. Remaining on the level of the Greek mind, Boethius defined `person’ as naturae rationalis individua substantia, as the individual substance of a rational nature. One sees that the concept of person stands entirely on the level of substance. This cannot clarify anything about the Trinity or about Christology; it is an affirmation that remains on the level of the

Freedom understood as plethora of choices. 

Greek mind which thinks in substantialist terms.”[8] That is, the pre-Christian mind, understanding man to be a substance dealing with substances, experiences freedom as indetermination to do this or that concrete act or choose this or that concrete thing. Thus freedom at most was freedom of choice, and enhanced freedom would consist in a plethora of choices. Such a notion of freedom has dominated our present culture today such that we are awash in choices and stymied by it

Since the prototypical meaning of Being in Christian faith-experience is person-in-relation, and freedom takes its meaning from Being, then one “becomes” free to the extent that he/she enters the relationality of self-gift as the Origin of our being is the triple Self-gift. The more one gives self, the freer one is, the more self one becomes, the more God one becomes, the freer one becomes. The more one lives the obedience of faith, the more Christ one becomes, the freer one is. Hence, “If you abide in my word, you will be my disciple indeed; you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn. 8, 32); and “The Crucified Christ reveals the authentic meaning of freedom; he lives it fully in the total gift of himself and calls his disciples to share in his freedom;” (VS #85).

* * * * * * * * * * *

Since the human person, imaging the Son of the Father, Jesus Christ, is constitutively relational, before he/she can make the gift, she must received. In fact, as primarily created and redeemed, the human person is receptive (as in female to God). The contrary is the heresy of Pelagianism which situates man as protagonist of being and act. Before he/she has identity as “I,” she must be created and affirmed (and ongoingly). This is a countercultural sea-change in the present cultural perception of the human being.

Affirmation to activate freedom: the metaphysics of relation

 Ratzinger: “The First Person does not beget the Son in the sense of the act of begetting coming on top of the finished Person; it is the act of begetting, of giving oneself, of streaming forth. It is identical with the act of giving. Only as this act is it person, and therefore it is not the giver but the act of giving… In this idea of relativity 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, which describes something other and infinitely more than the mere idea of the ‘individual.’ Therein lies concealed a revolution in man’s view of the world: the undivided sway 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.”[9]

 Joseph Pieper (Sociologically): In Sartre’s experience, “every human being is in principle alien to every other, who by looking at him threatens to steal the world from him; everyone is a danger to everyone else’s existence, a potential executioner. But fortunately, the creative artist in Sartre, or simply the brilliant observer and describer of human reality, repeatedly rises up against merely intellectual theses. And the artist in him, altogether unconcerned about his own ‘philosophy,’ will then say things like this: ‘This is the basis for the joy of love…: we feel that our existence is justified.’ As may be seen, that is not so very far from the above-mentioned notions of ‘giving existence’ and ‘conferring the right to exist.’ Here, however, the matter is seen not from the lover’s point of view, but from that of the beloved. Obviously, then, it does not suffice us simply to exist; we can do that ‘anyhow.’ What matters to us, beyond mere existence, is the explicit confirmation: It is good that you exist; how wonderful that you are! In other words, what we need over and above sheer existence is: to be loved by another person. That is an astonishing fact when we consider it closely. Being created by God actually does not suffice, it would seem; the fact of creation needs continuation and perfection by the creative power of human love.

             “But this seemingly astonishing fact is repeatedly confirmed [Sociologically] by the most palpable experience, of the kind that everyone has day after day. We say that a person ‘blossoms’ when undergoing the experience of being loved; that he becomes wholly himself for the first time; that a ‘new life’ is beginning for him – and so forth. For a child, and to all appearances even for the still unborn child, being loved by the mother is literally the precondition of its own thriving. This material love need not necessarily be ‘materialized’ in specific acts of beneficence. What is at any rate more decisive is that concern and approval which are given from the very core of existence – we need not hesitate to say, which  come from the heart – and which are directed toward the core of existence, the heart, of the child. Only such concern and approval do we call real ‘love.’ The observations of Rene Spitz have become fairly well known. He studied children born in prison and brought up in scarcely comfortable outward conditions by their imprisoned mother. These he compared with other children raised without their mothers, but in well-equipped, hygienically impeccable American infants’ and children’s homes by excellently trained nurses. The result of the comparison is scarcely surprising: in regard to illness, morality and susceptibility to neuroses, the children raised in prison were far better off. Not that the nurses had performed their tasks in a merely routine manner and with ‘cold objectivity.’ But it is simply not enough to able to eat to satiation, not to freeze, to have a roof overhead and everything else that is essential to life. The institutionalized children had all such needs satisfied. They received plenty of ‘milk;’ what was lacking was – the ‘honey.’”[10]

 Psychological Confirmation:

Conrad Baars, M.D.: Emotional Deprivation Disorder: Characteristics: “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.[11][12]

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.”[13]

 Unaffirmed Persons: “can be said to have been born only once; their second or psychological birth never took place (or, since it is a protracted process, was never complete). They were not made to know and feel their own goodness, worth and identity. They have been thrown back upon themselves by denial on the part of significant others in their life. They are like prisoners – locked in, lonely, and self-centered – waiting fort someone to come and open the door of their prison, waiting to be opened to their own goodness and that of others. No measure of success in business, profession or otherwise can adequately compensate for their feelings of inferiority, inadequacy, uncertainty and insecurity. Both the married life and the celibate life accentuate the fundamental loneliness of these persons and their inability to relate to others as equals. Their spiritual life suffers as time goes on, and their basically joyless way of life changes more and more to a state of depression until death seems the only way out.

            “Most importantly, unaffirmed persons have only one concern and need: to become affirmed, to be loved for who they are and not for what they do. They are literally driven to find someone who truly, unequivocally loves them. This is in marked contrast to affirmed individuals who look for someone with whom they can share their love, who can give love as well as receive, who can wait and are not hurried, driven, or compelled to find someone who will love them. If affirmation by a significant other is not forthcoming, many unaffirmed persons wells use their talents, intelligence and energy to try to convince themselves and the world in a variety of ways that they are worthwhile, important and significant, even though they don’t feel that they are. The most common ways of doing this are by the acquisition, display and use of material goods, wealth, power, fame, honor, status symbols, or sex.”[14]

       Conscience

 [You think the way you live: if you live as gift, you will know yourself as true[15]]

 The Christian Understanding of Conscience: (Joseph Ratzinger in his “Conscience and Truth:”[16] We know right and wrong, good and bad, by experiencing oneself as created being imaging the divine Persons Who alone are “good.” Goodness or badness is not intrinsic to this or that act but only in that the person doing it becomes “like God” or “unlike God” by doing it or omitting it.

“I first became aware of the question with all its urgency in the beginning of my academic teaching. In the course of a dispute, a senior colleague, who was keenly aware of the plight to being Christian in our times, expressed the opinion that one should actually be grateful to God that He allows there to be so many unbelievers in good conscience. For if their eyes were opened and they became believers, they would not be capable, in this world of ours, of bearing the burden of faith with all its moral obligations. But as it is, since they can go another way in good conscience, they can reach salvation. What shocked me about this assertion was not in the first place the idea of an erroneous conscience given by God Himself in order to save men by means of such artfulness—the idea, so to speak, of a blindness sent by God for the salvation of those in question. What disturbed me was the notion that it harbored, that faith is a burden which can hardly be borne and which no doubt was intended only for stronger natures—faith almost as a kind of punishment, in any case, an imposition not easily coped with. According to this view, faith would not make salvation easier but harder. Being happy would mean not being burdened with having to believe or having to submit to the moral yoke of the faith of the Catholic Church. The erroneous conscience, which makes life easier and marks a more human course, would then be a real grace, the normal way to salvation. Untruth, keeping truth at bay, would be better for man than truth. It would not be the truth that would set him free, but rather he would have to be freed from the truth. Man would be more at home in the dark than in the light. Faith would not be the good gift of the good God but instead an affliction. If this were the state of affairs, how could faith give rise to joy? Who would have the courage to pass faith on to others? Would it not be better to spare them the truth or even keep them from it? In the last few decades, notions of this sort have discernibly crippled the disposition to evangelize. The one who sees the faith as a heavy burden or as a moral imposition is unable to invite others to believe. Rather he lets them be, in the putative freedom of their good consciences.

The one who spoke in this manner was a sincere believer, and, I would say, a strict Catholic who performed his moral duty with care and conviction. But he expressed a form of experience of faith which is disquieting. Its propagation could only be fatal to the faith. The almost traumatic aversion many have to what they hold to be “pre-conciliar” Catholicism is rooted, I am convinced, in the encounter with such a faith seen only as encumbrance. In this regard, to be sure, some very basic questions arise. Can such a faith actually be an encounter with truth? Is the truth about God and man so sad and difficult, or does truth not lie in the overcoming of such legalism? Does it not lie in freedom? But where does freedom lead? What course does it chart for us? At the conclusion , we shall come back to these fundamental problems of Christian existence today but before we do that, we must return to the core of our topic, namely, the matter of conscience. As I said, what unsettled me in the argument just recounted was first of all the caricature of faith I perceived in it. In a second course of reflection, it occurred to me further that the concept of conscience which it implied must also be wrong. The erroneous conscience, by sheltering the person from the exacting demands of truth, saves him …—thus went the argument. Conscience appeared here not as a window through which one can see outward to that common truth which founds and sustains us all, and so makes possible through the common recognition of truth, the community of needs and responsibilities. Conscience here does not mean man’s openness to the ground of his being, the power of perception for what is highest and most essential. Rather, it appears as subjectivity’s protective shell into which man can escape and there hide from reality. Liberalism’s idea of conscience was in fact presupposed here. Conscience does not open the way to the redemptive road to truth which either does not exist or, if it does, is too demanding. It is the faculty which dispenses from truth. It thereby becomes the justification for subjectivity, which should not like to have itself called into question. Similarly, it becomes the justification for social conformity. As mediating value between the different subjectivities, social conformity is intended to make living together possible. The obligation to seek the truth ceases, as do any doubts about the general inclination of society and what it has become accustomed to. Being convinced of oneself, as well as conforming to others, are sufficient. Man is reduced to his superficial conviction and the less depth he has, the better for him.

“What I was only dimly aware of in this conversation became glaringly clear a little later in a dispute among colleagues about the justifying power of the erroneous conscience. Objecting to this thesis, someone countered that if this were so then the Nazi SS would be justified and we should seek them in heaven since they carried out all their atrocities with fanatic conviction and complete certainty of conscience. Another responded with utmost assurance that of course this was indeed the case. There is no doubting the fact that Hitler and his accomplices who were deeply convinced of their cause, could not have acted otherwise. Therefore, the objective terribleness of their deeds notwithstanding, they acted morally, subjectively speaking. Since they followed their albeit mistaken consciences, one would have to recognize their conduct as moral and, as a result, should not doubt their eternal salvation. Since that conversation, I knew with complete certainty that something was wrong with the theory of justifying power of the subjective conscience, that, in other words, a concept of conscience which leads to such conclusions must be false. For, subjective conviction and the lack of doubts and scruples which follow therefrom do not justify man. Some thirty years later, in the terse words of the psychologist, Albert Gorres, I found summarized the perceptions I was trying to articulate.”[17]

Me: Why does subjective ignorance not exculpate? Because the way one lives is the cause of the way one knows. If one lives erroneously, one knows erroneously. If one is self-gift, one knows the good as image of Him who is total self-gift . If one does not make the self-gift, he does not know the good. The “good” is the ontological self as imaging God Who alone is “good.”. Therefore, it is not simply conceptual ignorance but “existential” error and conscious ignorance.

Therefore, conscience is not simply a practical conclusion (a concept) of syllogisms derived from practical principles, but a consciousness concomitant with the experience of the self as going out of self, or not going out of self.

The question then will be: What is conscience? Ratzinger’s answer: “the first so-called ontological level of the phenomenon conscience consists in the fact that something like an original memory of the good and true (both are identical) has been implanted in us, that there is an inner ontological tendency within man, who is created in the likeness of God, toward the divine. From its origin, man’s being resonates with some things and clashes with others. This anamnesis of the origin, which results from the godlike constitution of our being is not a conceptually articulated knowing, a store of retrievable contents. It is so to speak an inner sense, a capacity to recall, so that the one whom it addresses, if he is not turned in on himself, hears its echo from within. He sees: “That’s it! That is what my nature points to and seeks

           Cristina Napolitano’s personal experiences with families in Family Enrichment

  • We can’t forget that children are not possessions.
  • I see children as the souls that God put into the hands of a mother and a father, so they may train these souls to Love Him, do good and be able to live with Him forever in Heaven. HUGE RESPONSIBILITY!!
  • We could understand families as small “training agencies” responsible of forming their “workers” so they may run the business, on their own, as expected and that they may be able to train the next generation with the same values and objectives. SHOW AND LET GO!!
  • It’s KNOW, SHOW and TELL time!! Parents need to knowthe answers to the many questions children are going to come up with during their growth, and they should have deep arguments in how human virtues should be lived. Then, parents need to be a good example and show those virtues in their everyday life. Finally, they need to tell the reasons of why to live this way (it is not enough to just show with example).

 

[I interject: I would prefer the word “reasons” instead of “arguments” since we are trying to convey the deep logic of human life since iti  is already divine, and “divine” because it is a divine Person Who lived this life and continues living it in me/you. As St. Josemaria says it: I only have one heart, and with that I love God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit  – and my mother and father – and you. You can’t be too human because the truly human has been lived by a divine Person. And the truly human will always be relational, for the other.]

  • When a parent is able to proudly execute a SHOW and TELL, with the submission of his/her intellect and will to God, then he/she just needs prayer and abandonment.
  • A parent can’t ever control the world his child lives in, but he CAN give enough tools to his own child so he may defend himself in the world.

[Another interjection: before and with defense, I would form them to be positive  and rebellious

  • If the messages from the parents are not truthful and firm, children feel insecure.
  • To give in, let go, or let a child take his way, means to give up in his success as human being and child of God.
  • Firm words need to be followed by firm actions. A parent who knows the truth, needs to always show the struggle to live it with all the sacrifices that entails.* * * * * * * * * *

 

  • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

[1] J. Ratzinger, “ ‘In the Beginning…’” Eerdmans (1990) 66-67.

[2] “The fact that man ‘is alone’ in the midst of the visible world and, in particular, among living beings, has a negative significance in this search, since it expresses what he ‘is not’ … Man is alone because he is ‘different’ from the visible world of living beings [animalia] with his first act of self consciousness, and of how he reveals himself to himself. At the same time, he asserts himself as a ‘person’ in the visible world;” John Paul II, “The Theology of the Body,” DSP (1997) October 10, 1979 (37). In a word, in experiencing himself  “alone” in the visible world is to experience the uniqueness of being a free being in a universe of necessary causes and results

[3] Gaudium et Spes #24. “Indeed, the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, “that all may be one. . . as we are one” (John 17:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason, for He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God’s sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.(2)

[4] Karol Wojtyla, “Love and Responsibility,” Ignatius (1990)

[5] 27.

[6] Mark 10, 19: “No one is good, but only God.”

[7] “Ought” cannot be derived from “is” and moral obligation cannot come from the “thisness” of facts. Behold the grounding conviction of the philosophy of Immanuel Kant who perceived no threads of universality and permanence in the external empirical world.  Hence, Kant proclaimed that “ought” had to be grounded in universal imperatives – “a priori” – in the human mind. And since the thought of the human mind is not ontologically real, moral obligation is purely subjective and relativist.

[8] J. Ratzinger, “Concerning the Notion Parson in Theology,” Communio 17 (Fall, 1990) 448.

[9] Benedict XVI “Introduction to Christianity” Ignatius (1990) 131-132.

[10] Joseph Pieper, “An Anthology,” Ignatius (1989) 30-31.

[11] 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].

[12] C. Baars, “I Will Give Themn a New Heart” St Pauls (2008) 12.

[13] Ibid 190.

[14] Ibid190-191.

[15] “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye,” Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “The Little Prince” XXI, Harcourt Brace (1943) 70-71. The fox continued: “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.” ‘It is the time I have wasted for my rose –‘ said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember. “Men have forgotten this truth,’ said the fox. ‘But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose…’ “I am responsible for my rose,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.”

[16] J. Ratzinger, “On Conscience” Ignatius (2007)

[17] J. Ratzinger “Conscience and Truth,” Presented at the 10th Workshop for Bishops February 1991 Dallas, Texas

The Human Person is Constitutively Relational. He/She is Relational Either as Donation (male) or Reception (female). This is the Metaphysics of Imaging the Trinitarian God Who Has Revealed Divinity as Three Persons Who Are One [Communio]

 

* * * * * * *

‘You Are Born a Girl or a Boy, Period’

Medical organization says the conditioning of children through drugs and surgery is child abuse

by Deirdre Reilly | 

Since Donald Trump attained the White House, the LGBTQ community has been in a panic over their rights, fearing the new administration will not embrace them without question, as former President Obama did. They’ve now been pushing hard to attain state and federal “gender-affirming” documentation such as passports, as CNN reported recently.

While the trans community hones in on this legal status, many doctors remain very concerned about mental and physical health issues — particularly related to children struggling with gender identity issues. There is increasing evidence that gender dysphoria is an issue of the mind, not the body — and should be treated as such.

“Cross-sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) are associated with dangerous health risks, including but not limited to high blood pressure, blood clots, stroke, and cancer.”

The American College of Pediatricians (ACPEDS) has asserted that “conditioning children into believing a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex is normal and healthful is child abuse.”

This was part of a strongly worded position statement entitled, “Gender Ideology Harms Children,” which the group issued last spring and updated last month.

“There are permanent effects on children when you treat them for transgenderism,” pediatric endocrinologist and vice president of ACPEDS, Dr. Quentin Van Meter, told LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham on “The Laura Ingraham Show” on Tuesday. “You are either born a girl or boy, period. This transgender concept is simply a social and cultural feeling.”

Meanwhile, the trans agenda is being pushed in public schools, local and state government, and the federal government. The agenda dismisses wholesale the rates of suicide among adults who use cross-sex hormones and undergo sex change reassignment surgery. Rates of suicide in the trans community are a staggering 40 percent — even in such trans-friendly places as Sweden.

The updated ACPEDS statement points out that gender confusion should be treated as a psychological disorder called “gender dysphoria.” It says that it is a “recognized mental disorder in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association.”

ACPEDS is most concerned about the regimen of puberty-blocking drugs given to children who are suffering gender dysphoria. “Children who use puberty blockers to impersonate the opposite sex will require cross-sex hormones in late adolescence,” the organization affirmed in its 2016 statement. “Cross-sex hormones [testosterone and estrogen] are associated with dangerous health risks including but not limited to high blood pressure, blood clots, stroke and cancer.”

ACPEDS notes in the statement, “Human sexuality is an objective biological binary trait: ‘XY’ and ‘XX’ are genetic markers of health — not genetic markers of a disorder.”

Van Meter told Ingraham that, significantly, there are actually very few stories of transgender children who have a normal functioning family. Most of the time, there is a history of disruption or fragmentation.

As many as 98 percent of gender-confused boys and 88 percent of gender-confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after passing through puberty naturally.

Doctors who have children’s best interests at heart are often dismissed if they don’t robustly accept and endorse the current transgender trend in America, Van Meter explained.

“The reason they get rid of doctors is because we don’t fit the [current] social themes or political correctness,” said Van Meter. “But we are either male or female … what nature has given us.”

ACPEDS also stated, “The exceedingly rare disorders of sex development (DSDs), including but not limited to testicular feminization and congenital adrenal hyperplasia, are all medically identifiable deviations from the sexual binary norm, and are rightly recognized as disorders of human design. Individuals with DSDs do not constitute a third sex.”

The organization also said that as many as 98 percent of gender-confused boys and 88 percent of gender-confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after passing through puberty naturally.

February 14th, 2017

This feast, which is the anniversary of the founding of the priestly society of the Holy Cross in which numerary priests are incardinated in the Prelature of Opus Dei as secular, is a significant day for the universal Church. It transformed the Church from within from a clerical power pyramid into a truly secular people of God in which all are radically equal (as other Christs) and functionally diverse.

The pristine People of God (Jewish families with Melchizedek as type of father) lost the priesthood of Adam [subduing the earth and naming the animals] when they worshiped the golden calf. It (the priesthood) was transferred to the Levites in toto as a single tribe. Their cultic mission was the slaughter of the animals in the Temple. Find Scott Hahn for the development of this.

Benedict’s homily of June 4, 2010 can be very enlightening here to understand how the priesthood of Christ is a revolution vis a vis the the cultic Jewish priesthood. I copy:

“The priesthood of the New Testament is closely bound to the Eucharist. Because of this, today, on the solemnity of Corpus Domini and almost at the end of the Year for Priests, we are invited to meditate on the relationship between the Eucharist and the priesthood of Christ. Oriented in this direction also are the first reading and the responsorial psalm, which present the figure of Melchizedek.

The brief passage from the Book of Genesis (cf. 14:18-20) states that Melchizedek, king of Salem, was “priest of God Most High,” and because of this “offered bread and wine” and “blessed Abram,” returning from a victory in battle; Abram himself gave him a tenth of everything. The Psalm, in turn, contains in the last verse a solemn expression, an oath of God himself, who declares to the King Messiah: “You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4); thus the Messiah is not only proclaimed king, but also priest.

From this passage the author of the Letter to the Hebrews takes the cue for his ample and articulated exposition. And we re-echoed it in the refrain: “You are a priest for ever, Lord Christ”: virtually a profession of faith, which acquires a particular meaning in today’s feast. It is the joy of the community, the joy of the whole Church that, contemplating and adoring the Most Blessed Sacrament, recognizes in it the real and permanent presence of Jesus as High and Eternal Priest.
 
The second reading and the Gospel, instead, draw attention to the Eucharistic mystery. The First Letter to the Corinthians (cf. 11:23-26) treats the fundamental passage in which St. Paul recalls to that community the meaning and value of the “Lord’s Supper,” which the Apostle had transmitted and taught, but which risked being lost. The Gospel is the account of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, according to St. Luke: a sign attested by all the Evangelists, which announces beforehand the gift that Christ will make of himself, to give humanity eternal life.

Both of these texts highlight Christ’s prayer, in the act of breaking the bread. Of course there is a clear difference between the two moments: When he multiplies the loaves and fishes for the crowd, Jesus thanks the heavenly Father for his Providence, confident that he will not have food lacking for all those people. In the Last Supper, instead, Jesus transforms the bread and wine into his own Body and Blood, so that the disciples can nourish themselves from him and live in profound and real communion with him.
 
The first thing that one must remember is that Jesus was not a priest according to the Jewish tradition. His was not a priestly family. He did not belong to the lineage of Aaron, but rather to that of Judah; hence, legally, he was precluded from the way of the priesthood. The person and activity of Jesus of Nazareth were not placed in the line of the ancient priests, but rather in that of the prophets.

And in this line, Jesus distanced himself from a ritual conception of religion, criticizing the approach that valued human precepts linked to ritual purity rather than the observance of God’s Commandments, that is, love of God and of one’s neighbor, which, as the Gospel says, “is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Mark 12:33). Even inside the Temple of Jerusalem, sacred place par excellence, Jesus carries out an exquisitely prophetic gesture, when he chases the money changers and animal vendors, all things that served for the offering of traditional sacrifices. Hence, Jesus was not recognized as a priestly Messiah, but as prophetic and royal. Also his death, which we Christians rightly call “sacrifice,” had nothing of the ancient sacrifices; rather, it was completely the opposite: the execution of a death penalty by crucifixion, the most infamous, which took place outside the walls of Jerusalem” (Vatican City, June 4, 2010).

Conclusion: The pristine priesthood of man was Adam’s imaging the relationality of the divine Persons as relations, and therefore One God. His obedience was the gift of himself to the Creator in work. But that is still a “type.” Jesus Christ, the God-Man Who as divine “I” masters Himself (human will laden with all sin [2 Cor. 5, 21] and obeys as divine Person with His human will to death on the Cross is the prototype of priest. Thus, healing the human will and the total man.

Because of the sin of the Jews – the whole people, the fathers of families – worshiping the golden calf (consider our own [perhaps] unconscious adoration of same today) were stripped of the pristine priesthood of being the people of God whereby it was given to the Levites whose cultic mission was the slaughter of the animals in the temple. Becoming Himself sin, Christ destroys it in Himself, in His own human will, and restores the human person to the wholeness of the image of God, and by Baptism and Orders, incorporates a new people of God into Himself as common and ministerial priests, according to His own heart.

Hence, the Church is the priestly people of God in which all share in the one priesthood of Christ whereby all are called to live the priestly life of self-gift which is given to them as the supernatural action of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that is lived out in the street and ordinary family life.

The feast of February 14, 1943 was the anniversary of this development where laymen and ministerial priests are all priests of Jesus Christ by the sacraments of Baptism and Orders and related to one another ministerial priest at the service of common priesthood all in the context of secularity where the world is the occasion of the exercise both forms of priesthood. They are essentially and irreducibly different in that the priesthood of the laity is oriented to the secular world of work and family, whereas the ministerial priesthood is oriented to the laity enabling them to activate their priesthood there.

This is a beautiful reality, priestly and secular as Christ in Nazareth for 30 years.

 

John Paul II on Autonomy of the Human Person

Mercatornet wrote today: (2/15/2017)

Ours is not a deeply religious age. But if people were asked to define its creed, a single word would suffice: autonomy, the freedom to do whatever I like as long as I don’t hurt anyone. This implies that, in the often-quoted words of SCOTUS Justice Anthony Kennedy, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

A whole moral and social philosophy has been built on top of this definition. It justifies abortion, same-sex marriage, drug use, euthanasia, and a host of other morally controversial issues. But slowly people are beginning to realise that autonomy has more holes in it than Swiss cheese. Our lead article today explores this idea in the light of a proposal to give mental health patients razors so that they can self-harm “safely”.

Response:

Blogger would like to take umbrage at the swipe at the word “autonomy,” and this because it is the closest we can come to the profound meaning of freedom, and besides the Magisterium went to pains to distinguish the good and the bad autonomy. Since the word is so true, it must be distinguished from its false meaning, to wit:

Firstly, John Paul II centers the meaning of human freedom in the autonomy of the human person as self-determining freedom. “We must never treat a person as the means to an end. This principle has a universal validity. Nobody can use a person as a means towards an end, no human being, not even God the Creator. On the part of god, indeed, it is totally out of the question since, by giving man an intelligent and free nature, he has thereby ordained that each man alone will decide for himself the ends of his activity, and not be a blind tool of someone else’s ends. Therefore, if God intends to direct man towards goals, so that he may make them his own and strive towards them independently. In this amongst other things resides the most profound logic of revelation. God allows man to learn His supernatural ends, but the decision to strive towards an end, the choice of course, is left to man’s free will. God does not redeem man against his will.”[1]

Secondly, paragraph #36 of “The Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World:”

“If by the autonomy of earthly affairs we mean that created things and societies themselves enjoy their own laws and values which must be gradually deciphered, put to use, and regulated by men, then it is entirely right to demand that autonomy. Such is not merely required by modern man, but harmonizes also with the will of the Creator. For by the very circumstance of their having been created, all things are endowed with their own stability, truth, goodness, proper laws and order. Man must respect these as he isolates them by the appropriate methods of the individual sciences or arts. Therefore if methodical investigation within every branch of learning is carried out in a genuinely scientific manner and in accord with moral norms, it never truly conflicts with faith, for earthly matters and the concerns of faith derive from the same God. (6) Indeed whoever labors to penetrate the secrets of reality with a humble and steady mind, even though he is unaware of the fact, is nevertheless being led by the hand of God, who holds all things in existence, and gives them their identity. Consequently, we cannot but deplore certain habits of mind, which are sometimes found too among Christians, which do not sufficiently attend to the rightful independence of science and which, from the arguments and controversies they spark, lead many minds to conclude that faith and science are mutually opposed.(7)

“But if the expression, the independence of temporal affairs, is taken to mean that created things do not depend on God, and that man can use them without any reference to their Creator, anyone who acknowledges God will see how false such a meaning is. For without the Creator the creature would disappear. For their part, however, all believers of whatever religion always hear His revealing voice in the discourse of creatures. When God is forgotten, however, the creature itself grows unintelligible.”

 

[1] John Paul II, “Love and Responsibility,” Ignatius (1990) 27.

Pope’s Address to “Economy of Communion” Meeting 

‘Do not forget that lofty philosophy and lofty theology, which made our grandmothers say: ‘the devil enters through the pockets.’ Don’t forget this!’

captura-de-pantalla-2016-08-10-a-las-10-38-52-740x465

Pope In Paul VI Hall –

 

Economy and communion. These are two words that contemporary culture keeps separate and often considers opposites. Two words that you have instead joined, accepting the invitation that Chiara Lubich offered you 25 years ago in Brazil, when, in the face of the scandal of inequality in the city of São Paulo, she asked entrepreneurs to become agents of communion. She invited you to be creative, skilful, but not only this. You see the entrepreneur as an agent of communion. By introducing into the economy the good seed of communion, you have begun a profound change in the way of seeing and living business. Business is not only incapable of destroying communion among people, but can edify it and promote it. With your life you demonstrate that economy and communion become more beautiful when they are beside each other. Certainly the economy becomes more beautiful, but communion is also more beautiful, because the spiritual communion of hearts is even fuller when it becomes the communion of goods, of talents, of profits.

In considering your task, I would like to say three things to you today.

The first concerns money. It is very important that at the centre of the economy of communion there be the communion of your profits. The economy of communion is also the communion of profits, an expression of the communion of life. Many times I have spoken about money as an idol. The Bible tells us this in various ways. Not by chance, Jesus’ first public act, in the Gospel of John, is the expulsion of the merchants from the temple (cf. 2:13-21). We cannot understand the new Kingdom offered by Jesus if we do not free ourselves of idols, of which money is one of the most powerful. Therefore, how is it possible to be merchants that Jesus does not expel? Money is important, especially when there is none, and food, school, and the children’s future depend on it. But it becomes an idol when it becomes the aim. Greed, which by no coincidence is a capital sin, is the sin of idolatry because the accumulation of money per se becomes the aim of one’s own actions. It was Jesus, really Him, who defined money as a “master”: “No servant can serve two masters”. There are two of them, the anti-God, and the idol. Jesus said this. At the same level of choice. Think about this.

When capitalism makes the seeking of profit its only purpose, it runs the risk of becoming an idolatrous framework, a form of worship. The ‘goddess of fortune’ is increasingly the new divinity of a certain finance and of the whole system of gambling which is destroying millions of the world’s families, and which you rightly oppose. This idolatrous worship is a surrogate for eternal life. Individual products (cars, telephones …) get old and wear out, but if I have money or credit I can immediately buy others, deluding myself of conquering death.

Thus, one understands the ethical and spiritual value of your choice to pool profits. The best and most practical way to avoid making an idol of money is to share it with others, above all with the poor, or to enable young people to study and work, overcoming the idolatrous temptation with communion. When you share and donate your profits, you are performing an act of lofty spirituality, saying to money through deeds: you are not God, you are not a lord, you are not a master! And do not forget also that high philosophy and that high theology that told our grandparents: “The devil enters through the pockets.” Do not forget this!

The second thing I would like to say to you concerns poverty, a central theme of your movement.

Today, many initiatives, public and private, are being carried out to combat poverty. All this, on the one hand, is a growth in humanity. In the Bible, the poor, orphans, widows, those ‘discarded’ by the society of those times, were aided by tithing and the gleaning of grain. But most of the people remained poor; that aid was not sufficient to feed and care for everyone. There were many ‘discarded’ by society. Today, we have invented other ways to care for, to feed, to teach the poor, and some of the seeds of the Bible have blossomed into more effective institutions than those of the past. The rationale for taxes also lies in this solidarity, which is negated by tax avoidance and evasion which, before being illegal acts, are acts which deny the basic law of life: mutual care.

The Search For the “I”

My name is William A. Nathans and I am a classically trained painter working in the USA and abroad. I have received my training in New York City as well as spending an additional three years in Toronto, Canada.
My greatest interest is in painting the human person, particularly the painted portrait. I believe it to be the greatest challenge to represent in paint and charcoal the essence of the human spirit. I strive to give life, emotion and pathos to my subjects who range from all walks of life.
My painting is an attempt to portray human nature found in the varied differences of humanity in the genre of portraiture. I strive to break down the barrier of any defense walls that might exist within my given subject searching for inner character traits that reveal the true identity of the individual. This search is accomplished through live sittings with the person in the studio on a one on one basis working to capture any hint of the inner essence of the person through these shared experiences from life. I seek a diverse range of individuals whom I admire to paint, people who posses some attribute which I myself find beautiful, interesting and noble.
I work mainly in oil and dry media basing my work on studying the subtle range of tones and hues found under atmospheric north light. By studying these nuances I’m able to peer deeper into the person’s aura working to evoke an honest expression of the person. I begin with drawings which act as guides and references of key aspects of the person. Slight mannerisms, gestures and body language that reveal inner struggles as well as accomplishments that have lead up to that person’s life thus far. I maintain sketchbook drawings from everyday observations whether it is riding subways, trains, cafes or visiting specific sites scouting the terrain for any prospecting subject.
My work is an attempt to document the people of my time questioning how the present and the past have shaped them.

William A. Nathans, Painter

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Helen  Keller: The Discovery of One’s “I”

Helen, a Blind Deaf Mute, meets Anne Sullivan

   “Suddenly I felt a  misty consciousness as something forgotten – a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me I knew then that ‘w-a-t-e-r’ meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free!”

I interpret: what was revealed to Helen was not thought as idea or  concept, but the consciousness of herself as “I” which she had exercised in the use of the word w-a-t-e-r in naming the clear liquid “something” that she now owned as an “I” because she named (subdued) it. The act of naming was her very self transcending herself in the order of God being the Creator of the world. It set her apart from the world of things as the “I” of the Creator is not one of the beings of His creation. She was now a sovereign. It compared to Adam’s experience of the “original solitude” after naming the animals – which was the moment that the Creator said: “It is not good for man (Adam) to be alone” – and this because he had  been created by a “We” [“Let us” (Gen. 1, 26)]

* * * * *

On 3 March 1887 Anne arrived at the house in Tuscumbia and for the first time met Helen Keller. Anne immediately started teaching Helen to finger spell. Spelling out the word “Doll” to signify a present she had brought with her for Helen. The next word she taught Helen was “Cake”. Although Helen could repeat these finger movements she could not quite understand what they meant. And while Anne was struggling trying to help her understand, she was also struggling to try and control Helen’s continuing bad behaviour.

Anne and Helen moved into a small cottage on the land of the main house to try and get Helen to improve her behaviour. Of particular concern were Helen’s table manners. She had taken to eating with her hands and from the plates of everyone at the table.

Anne’s attempts to improve Helen’s table manners and make her brush her own hair and button her shoes led to more and more temper tantrums. Anne punished these tantrums by refusing to “talk” with Helen by spelling words on her hands.

Over the coming weeks, however, Helen’s behaviour did begin to improve as a bond grew between the two. Then, after a month of Anne’s teaching, what the people of the time called a “miracle” occurred.

Helen had until now not yet fully understood the meaning of words. When Anne led her to the water pump on 5 April 1887, all that was about to change.

As Anne pumped the water over Helen’s hand , Anne spelled out the word water in the girl’s free hand. Something about this explained the meaning of words within Helen, and Anne could immediately see in her face that she finally understood.

Helen later recounted the incident:

“We walked down the path to the well-house, attracted by the fragrance of the honey-suckle with which it was covered. Someone was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly, then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten, a thrill of returning thought, and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me.”

The “I” is disclosed as Intrinsically relational in Jesus Christ, and therefore in us:

Once one enters the world of the “I,” one enters the world where the “I” is revealed as the act of relation, and this because it is the meaning of Jesus Christ, the prototype of man and pure relation to the Father [GS 22]. In a word, Person is an action of relation. And when it is not: boredom.

In his “Introduction to Christianity,” Ratzinger wrote“The words ‘Kaiser’ and ‘Wilhelm’ go so closely together that the title ‘Kaiser’ had itself already become almost a part of the name; yet everyone was still aware that the word was not just name but denoted a function. The phrase ‘Christ Jesus’ is an exactly similar case and shows part of the unique name for the man from Nazareth. This fusion of the name with the title, the title with the name, is far from being just another example of history’s forgetfulness.On the contrary, it spotlights the very heart of that process of understanding which faith went through with regard to the figure of Nazareth. For what faith really states is precisely that with Jesus it is not possible to distinguish office and person; with him, this differentiation simply becomes inapplicable. The person is the office, the office is the person. The two are no longer divisible. Here there is no private area reserved for an ‘I’ which remains in the background behind the deeds and actions and thus at some time or other can be ‘off duty;’ here there is no ‘I’ separate from the work; the ‘I’ is the work and the work is the ‘I’ … Jesus did not perform a work that could be distinguished from his ‘I’ and depicted separately. On the contrary, to understand him as the Christ means to be convinced that he has put himself into his word. Here there is no ‘I’ (as there is with all of us) which utters words; he has identified himself sop closely with his word that “I” and word are indistinguishable: he is word. In the same way, to faith, his work is nothing else than the unreserved way in which he merges himself into this very work; he performs himself and gives himself; his work is the giving of himself….

“In other words, faith’s decisive statement about Jesus lies in the indivisible unity of the two words ‘Jesus Christ,’ a unity which conceals the experience of the identity of existence and mission…. The person of Jesus is his teaching, and his teaching is he himself. Christian faith, that is, faith in Jesus as the Christ, is therefore truly ‘personal faith.’ What this means can really be understood only from this angle. Such faith is not the acceptance of a system but the acceptance of this person who is his word; of the word as person and of the person as word.” (“Intro… to Christianity” 151).

The bearing of this on the  question of “Amoris Laetitia” is that man as tending toward becoming “Ipse Christus” experiences the self as truth when there is the sincere going out of self. Though trapped in an objective state of sin, if there is repentance and the sincere attempt at making the self-gift in this objectively wayward and irregular situation, conscience becomes “good”as the self becomes relational and gifted to God and the others. As Francis writes:

“#78. ‘The light of Christ enlightens every person (cf. Jn. 1, 9; Gaudium et spes, 22). Seeing things with the eyes of Christ inspires the Church’s pastoral care for the faithful who are living together, or are only married civilly, or are divorced and remarried. Following this divine pedagogy, the Church turns with love to those who participate in her life in an imperfect manner:  she seeks the grace of conversion for them; she encourages them to do good, to take loving care of each other and to serve the community in which they live and work… When a couple in an irregular union attains a noteworthy stability through a public bond – and is characterized by deep affection, responsibility towards the children and the ability to overcome trials – this can be seen as an opportunity where possible, to lead them to celebrate the sacrament of Matrimony.”

   I [blogger] would encourage all to recognize that the criterion of “the good” is not conformity to “nature” but, as created in the image and likeness of the divine Persons and recreated by Baptism in the Person of Jesus Christ, making the gift of oneself. Post Conciliar Veritatis Splendor reads: “Only God can answer the question about the good, because he is the good.” 
No one is good but God alone (MK. 10, 18; Lk. 18, 19). Only God can answer the question about what is good. To ask about the good, in fact, ultimately means to turn toward God, the fullness of goodness. Jesus shows that the young man’s question is really a religious question and the goodness that attracts and at he same time obliges man has its source in God, and indeed is God himself… Jesus brings the  question about morally good action back to its religious foundations, to the acknowledgement of God, who alone is goodness, fullness of life, the final end of human activity and perfect happiness… What man is and what he must do becomes clear as soon as God reveals himself…. Jesus himself is the living ‘fulfillment’ of the law inasmuch as he fulfills its authentic meaning by the total gift of himself. He himself becomes a living and personal law, who invites people to follow him…” (Veritatis Splendor, 9-15

The recovery of the “I” increases continuity with the doctrine of the Traditiion.

In the light of the impasse on #305, ftn. 351 of “Amoris Laetitia

          The development (enrichment) of faith that took place in Vatican II was the development of the subject (person) as ontological reality as revealed in Jesus Christ. There was a development in the understanding of man as person made in the image and likeness of the divine Persons, and not merely evolved from below. The dynamic of the person was taken from the Trinitarian understanding of relation in Father, Son and Spirit. As such the epistemology was the “I” as relation or giftedness as revealed in Christ. All the doctrinal development in the Tradition of the Church continued to be the same melody but played in a different key. The hermeneutic of continuity was the sameness of the melody; the discontinuity was in the notes which were all different. The result has been that the same doctrine is proposed but stronger and more comprehensibly, to wit: matrimony is unbreakable and perpetual because the bond of the spouses is the spouses themselves making the mutual gift of self; contraception is sinful, not because it opposes the ambiguous ends of the nature of matrimony, but because the mutual self-gift means totality, and therefore any impedance in the gift violates the very persons of the spouses as relations; in-vitro, although pro-life, is subhuman since there is not flesh to flesh to intercourse; sanctity is immediately perceived as connatural to the metaphysics of person as constitutively relational to God and others, etc., etc.

   The doctrine is the same, and the concrete application is existentialized. In the case of divorce-remarriage-communion, the fact that a person has sinned, remarried, had children (for whom he/she is responsible in justice and charity), un-annulable from a previous valid marriage and unable to live as brother and sister – and repentant -, the doctrine is the same: the person is living in a state of objective sin. But trapped. Can she make the gift of herself to God, and to the demanding father of the children she is living with and move toward the experience and consciousness of being “good?” Can she go to Communion to feed that gift of self as a subject/person? As her giftedness increases, her goodness develops, and her conscience, not subjectified, but  objectively grounded in the giftedness of her persona becomes peaceful and joyful. Is this cascading down the slippery slope of relativism where anything goes, or a development in the existential understanding of the human person as sinful and recovering?