For Those Who Have Ears To Hear, Let Them Hear

images (1)       “The knowledge of the Christian faith is a  personal knowledge of Christ because no one knows the Father except the Son and no one knows the Son except the Father and him to whom the Father reveals Him. (Mt 11, 27). And so, Christian faith is an experiential knowledge of the Person of the Son, and as all personal knowing, it begins, and grows or wanes. It is not an abstraction like a snapshot or a series of facts or sound bites of doctrine. It is a consciousness and awareness that we have of any person, and in this case, the Son of God who became flesh and lived the same kind of life that we live. Since we tend to transfer Him to the upper regions of abstraction, it is important to remember, “Feel me and see, that a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24). Jesus Christ is most concrete flesh and blood.

               This is the kind of knowing that Pope Francis is working with in the encyclical “Amoris Laetitia.” Consider the following texts of Evangelii Gaudium:

             ‘Christian morality is not a form of stoicism, or self-denial, or merely a practical philosophy or a catalogue of sins and faults. Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others. Under no circumstance can this invitation be obscured! All of the virtues are at the service of this response of love. If this invitation does not radiate forcefully and attractively, the edifice of the Church’s moral teaching risks becoming a house of cards, and this is our greatest risk. It would mean that it is not the Gospel which is being preached, but certain doctrinal or moral points based on specific ideological options. The message will run the risk of losing its freshness and will cease to have “the fragrance of the Gospel”.’

“IV. A mission embodied within human limits

  1. The Church is herself a missionary disciple; she needs to grow in her interpretation of the revealed word and in her understanding of truth. It is the task of exegetes and theologians to help “the judgment of the Church to mature”.[42]The other sciences also help to accomplish this, each in its own way. With reference to the social sciences, for example, John Paul IIsaid that the Church values their research, which helps her “to derive concrete indications helpful for her magisterial mission”.[43] Within the Church countless issues are being studied and reflected upon with great freedom. Differing currents of thought in philosophy, theology and pastoral practice, if open to being reconciled by the Spirit in respect and love, can enable the Church to grow, since all of them help to express more clearly the immense riches of God’s word. For those who long for a monolithic body of doctrine guarded by all and leaving no room for nuance, this might appear as undesirable and leading to confusion. But in fact such variety serves to bring out and develop different facets of the inexhaustible riches of the Gospel.[44]
  2. At the same time, today’s vast and rapid cultural changes demand that we constantly seek ways of expressing unchanging truths in a language which brings out their abiding newness. “The deposit of the faith is one thing… the way it is expressed is another”.[45]There are times when the faithful, in listening to completely orthodox language, take away something alien to the authentic Gospel of Jesus Christ, because that language is alien to their own way of speaking to and understanding one another. With the holy intent of communicating the truth about God and humanity, we sometimes give them a false god or a human ideal which is not really Christian. In this way, we hold fast to a formulation while failing to convey its substance. This is the greatest danger. Let us never forget that “the expression of truth can take different forms. The renewal of these forms of expression becomes necessary for the sake of transmitting to the people of today the Gospel message in its unchanging meaning”.[46]

            I repeat: “This is the greatest danger. Let us never forget that “the expression of truth can take different forms. The renewal of these forms of expression becomes necessary for the sake of transmitting to the people of today the Gospel message in its unchanging meaning”.[46]

    Blogger:  In the light of the above, consider the content of #303 – #305 of “Amoris Laetitia:”

“303. Recognizing the influence of such concrete factors, we can add that individual conscience needs to be better incorporated into the Church’s praxis in certain situations which do not objectively embody our understanding of marriage. Naturally, every effort should be made to encourage the development of an enlightened conscience, formed and guided by the responsible and serious discernment of one’s pastor, and to encourage an ever greater trust in God’s grace. Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which 345 Cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Declaration Concerning the Admission to Holy Communion of Faithful Who are Divorced and Remarried (24 June 2000), 2. 346 Relatio Finalis 2015, 85. 235 can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal. In any event, let us recall that this discernment is dynamic; it must remain ever open to new stages of growth and to new decisions which can enable the ideal to be more fully realized. Rules and discernment 304. It is reductive simply to consider whether or not an individual’s actions correspond to a general law or rule, because that is not enough to discern and ensure full fidelity to God in the concrete life of a human being. I earnestly ask that we always recall a teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas and learn to incorporate it in our pastoral discernment: “Although there is necessity in the general principles, the more we descend to matters of detail, the more frequently we encounter defects… In matters of action, truth or practical rectitude is not the same for all, as to matters of detail, but only as to the general principles; and where there is the same rectitude in matters of detail, it is not equally known to all… The principle will be found to fail, according as we descend further into detail”.347 It is true that general rules set forth a good which can never be disregarded or neglected, but in their formulation they cannot provide absolutely for all 347 Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 94, art. 4. 236 particular situations. At the same time, it must be said that, precisely for that reason, what is part of a practical discernment in particular circumstances cannot be elevated to the level of a rule. That would not only lead to an intolerable casuistry, but would endanger the very values which must be preserved with special care.348 305. For this reason, a pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in “irregular” situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives. This would bespeak the closed heart of one used to hiding behind the Church’s teachings, “sitting on the chair of Moses and judging at times with superiority and superficiality difficult cases and wounded families”.349 Along these same lines, the International Theological Commission has noted that “natural law could not be presented as an already established set of rules that impose themselves a priori on the moral subject; rather, it is a source of objective inspiration for the deeply personal process of making decisions”.350 Because of 348 In another text, referring to the general knowledge of the rule and the particular knowledge of practical discernment, Saint Thomas states that “if only one of the two is present, it is preferable that it be the knowledge of the particular reality, which is closer to the act”: Sententia libri Ethicorum, VI, 6 (ed. Leonina, t. XLVII, 354.) 349 Address for the Conclusion of the Fourteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (24 October 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 26-27 October 2015, p. 13. 350 International Theological Commission, In Search of a Universal Ethic: A New Look at Natural Law (2009), 59. 237 forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.351 Discernment must help to find possible ways of responding to God and growing in the midst of limits. By thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and of growth, and discourage paths of sanctification which give glory to God. Let us remember that “a small step, in the midst of great human limitations, can be more pleasing to God than a life which appears outwardly in order, but moves through the day without confronting great difficulties”.352 The practical pastoral care of ministers and of communities must not fail to embrace this reality.”

A Repost from 2005 – “Rouse Yourselves” – Towards a ‘High’ Doctrine of the laity: Daniel Cere [Newman Rambler Summer 2000 – McGill University]

“ROUSE YOURSELVES” by Daniel Cere

 

Lay Catholics rarely work up much passion or even interest about their vocation. Newman himself recognized that it would take a considerable effort to shake Catholics out of their apathy. His own bishop, Ullathorne, shrugged off Newman’s concerns about lay formation with a dismissive query, “Who are the laity?” Why be so concerned with such an uninteresting and uninfluential segment of the Church? Msgr. Talbot, the Pope’s British counselor, chided Newman’s efforts to educate and energize the laity as a waste of valuable time. The role of the laity, Talbot explained, is merely “to hunt, to shoot, and to entertain,” not to “meddle” in concerns about Christian mission. (Coulson: 41, 18-19)
This low view of the laity reflects a long-standing depreciation of the essentially secular character of the lay vocation. (Shaw 1993) Historically, the laity were often seen as second-class citizens whose role was to “pay, pray, and obey.” Despite the vigorous efforts of the Second Vatican Council, this negative view continues to cast long shadows over Catholic culture. For most of us, the lay state is not a Christian vocation in any real sense, but merely a default position for those who don’t really have a vocation. In the words of one young college student: “you can either choose a vocation, or just remain a lay person.” Being a layperson is being someone who “does not have the guts. . . to become a priest, [or] someone too spiritually challenged to enter a religious order.” (Langan: 11)
Today, this depreciation of the lay vocation takes new twists. For example, in many circles lay advancement in the life of the church is increasingly being defined in exclusively clerical terms, i.e., getting the laity to perform offices and functions traditionally exercised by the clergy. Laity are only really active in their faith when they are doing things typical of priests or religious: serving on the altar, giving retreats, offering spiritual direction, leading parish organizations, or doing pastoral animation. This particular type of clericalism sets the benchmark for lay mission by standards appropriate to the ministerial priesthood.
The active participation of the laity in the life of the Church is a welcome and necessary development. However, we run into serious difficulties if lay ministry within the Church is emphasized to such a great extent that it obscures the fundamental identity and mission of the laity in the world. According to John Paul II, the laity can become “so strongly interested in Church services and tasks” that they lose sight of their essential call to seek God’s plan in the affairs and activities of the world (John Paul II 1989: par.2). An ancient Christian document, the Epistle to Diognetus, puts it well: “What the soul is in the body, that the Christians are in the world …Such is the important post to which God has assigned them, and they are not at liberty to desert it.”
For Newman, the phenomenon of lay clericalism springs out of the temptation to evade the difficulties and demands involved in the lay mission to the secular world. This preoccupation with “spiritual” things may imply a not-so-subtle denigration of the essentially secular character of the lay vocation. The secular world of professions and business is perceived to be a dark, cold and empty wasteland devoid of real interest to a truly spiritually-minded layman. (Newman 1997: 1656-65).
Newman warns that this temptation to promote strategies of retreat will grow stronger as Christians face an increasingly secular and hostile world.. Instead of urging the laity to take a stand, to be formed, to organize, and to take the offensive against the dangerous tendencies of this age, there will be a pulling back from this dark world in order to find some solace in a spiritual oasis. Newman was not overly impressed with forms of religious conservatism which revel in dark and despairing assessments of the world. Those who promote “the language of dismay and despair at the prospect before us” represent the Church in retreat, not the Church militant. “Instead of, with the high spirit of the warrior, going out conquering and to conquer” they nurture a dangerous “defeatism,” a “shrinking into ourselves.” (quoted from Patterson: 16).
This defeatism, this shrinking from the secular as if it were “profane”, is based upon a deeply flawed view of the secular sphere. The concept that the secular is the profane is utterly foreign to Catholicism. Indeed, in the Roman Catholic Church the clergy themselves are, to this day, divided between “secular clergy” and “regular clergy.” Those who are “secular” serve in the world (saecularis: “the times,” “the age,” “the world”) and those who are “regular” are members of religious orders who live according to a rule (i.e. who take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience). (Benson 2001) The secular clergy are clergy who serve the laity in living out their apostolate in the “saecularis” (the times, the age, the world). The secular does not mean the non-sacred, it simply means being in the secular rather than the ecclesiastical domain the world.
The unique character of the vocation of the laity is found in its “secular” character. We are men and women of the world, men and women for the world. The secular is not something alien to the lay vocation, it is the field in which the lay vocation is lived out. They are called to live out the kingdom of God (the sacred) in the secular sphere. The secular needs to be claimed, embraced, challenged, lived in, and leavened by the prophetic, priestly, and kingly missions of lay existence.
Engaging the challenges of modern culture demanded a full and rich ecclesial response. Newman is noted for his “high” doctrines of church, sacraments, priesthood, and episcopacy. However, Newman also presses for a “high” doctrine of the laity (Sharkey 1987, 343). The lay must wake to an enriched and robust sense of their self-identity: “I want you to rouse yourselves to understand where you are, to know yourselves.” (Newman 1889: 389) The life and mission of the church could only be fully realized with the zealous participation of the laity. The state of the laity is the acid test for the state of the Church: “In all times, the laity have been the measure of the Catholic spirit.” (Newman 1889: 390)
While Newman acknowledged his conservative leanings in theology, nevertheless he also admitted a “radical” side in this emphasis on the decisive role of the laity. In his work on The Church of the Fathers he writes: “I shall offend many men when I say, we must look to the people.” (Newman’s italics) In some sense, Newman argues, the life and mission of the Church is “based on a popular power.” He argues that “in most ages” the laity have been a critical influence in the life of the Church. “It was so in its rise, in the days of Ambrose and in the days of Beckett, and it will be so again. I am preparing myself for such a state of things…” (Newman 1901 I: 340-41; Mozley I: 450).
The mission of the laity is decisive for Christian engagement with the modern world. Newman warns that the Church is entering into a new era marked by global indifference to religion: “Christianity,” he writes, “has never yet had experience of a world simply irreligious” (see “Infidelity of the Future” in Newman 1956). This thoroughgoing secularization of society presents a radical challenge for the laity.
Lay movements which advocate the creation of conservative enclaves or bulwarks against the modern world fail to engage the lay mission. Their bluster and bravado is that of those who lack the guts to dive into the icy waters of secularity. In effect, they choose to stand on the shore and curse. On the other hand, lay movements that advocate a “go with the flow” approach are equally problematic. Newman spent a lifetime struggling with religious liberals who advocated various strategies of accommodation to the world. Such movements usually propose a Johnny-come-lately adjustment to yesterday’s fashions. Newman warned that this approach amounts to little more than a “religion of the world” which lacks real prophetic tension with the world. (Newman 1997: 198-207).
The lay faithful are called to a critical engagement with the world. This new world may be tough, complex, burdened with evil, and indifferent to faith. Nevertheless, this secular world is the arena, the “place,” for our vocation (John Paul II 1989: 15). Newman stressed that it was not the time for the laity to run from the world and seek some spiritual oasis; it is the time to be “plunging into the world”, to “learn to swim in troubled waters,” and to “direct the current” (Newman 1982, 177-79)
Newman’s vision of the vocation and mission of the lay faithful has been captured in the Second Vatican Council and vigorously developed by Pope John Paul II. Vatican II’s Decree on the Laity and John Paul II’s Christifideles Laici (“The Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful) elaborate many of the key theological insights put forward by Newman. John Paul II shares Newman’s passionate insistence on the critical significance of the laity for the life of the church in the modern world: “A new state of affairs today both in the Church and in social, economic, political and cultural life, calls with a particular urgency for the action of the lay faithful. If lack of commitment is always unacceptable, the present time renders it even more so. It is not permissible for anyone to remain idle.” (Christifideles Laici 3) His recent manifesto to the church in the Americas includes this exhortation to the laity: “America needs lay Christians able to assume roles of leadership in society…On a continent marked by competition and aggressiveness, [and] unbridled consumerism, lay people are called to embody deeply evangelical values… It is urgent to train men and women who, in keeping with their vocation, can influence public life and direct it to the common good. ..What is expected from the laity is a great creative effort. ” (John Paul II 1999: 44)

The Priestly, Prophetic, and Kingly Vocation of the Laity:

What are some of the core elements of this enriched vision of the lay vocation and lay mission? Newman wants us to aim high: “I want a laity…who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand…I want an intelligent, well-instructed laity…I mean to be severe, and…exorbitant in my demands.” (Newman 1889: 390)
Newman was severe and exorbitant. In delineating the standard for Christian formation, he draws attention to our call to participate in the threefold mission of Christ as priest, prophet, and king (“The Christian Ministry” Newman 1997: 420). Newman states that “all His followers in some sense bear all three offices.” Though they are “earthen vessels,” nevertheless they are called to “show forth according to their measure these three characters,—the prophetical, priestly, and regal…” (“The Three Offices of Christ,” Newman 1898: 55). “Not the few and the conspicuous alone,” Newman states, “but all her children, high and low,” are bound to “walk worthy” as priests, prophets and kings of Christ and his Church. (Newman 1898: 62)
According to Newman, these offices correspond to three fundamental “states” or “conditions” of human existence—we speak, we act, we suffer. Christ entered into and lived through all these states of human life so that “he might be a pattern of them all:” “in like manner did He unite in Himself, and renew, and give us back in Him, the principal lots or states in which we find ourselves,—suffering, that we might know how to suffer; laboring, that we might know how to labor; and teaching that we might know how to teach.” Christians are called to men and women graced by redemptive speech (prophetic existence), redemptive action (kingly existence), and redemptive suffering/sacrifice (priestly existence). (Newman 1898: 53-54) In another context, Newman describes the priest, prophet and king as the religious, intellectual and political missions of the Church. These ecclesial missions reflect the basic spiritual, intellectual and ethical dimensions of human existence (Newman 1901 I: xl-xli).
John Paul II shares Newman’s understanding of lay identity and mission. Lay formation must be grounded in the “deeply held conviction…that man cannot be understood without Christ and that it is impossible to educate him, to develop his human nature and his vocation in life without Christ.” John Paul II tells us that, from the beginning of his pastoral ministry, his “aim was to emphasize forcefully the priestly, prophetic and kingly dignity of the … People of God.” (John Paul II 1979: 137) “Faith, in all the wealth of its personal and communal characteristics, is essentially and basically a participation in the testimony of Christ. This is the testimony of God himself, to which Christ has given expression and human dimensions by his triple power as priest, prophet and king.”… “Christ and the Christian encounter each other intimately in the priestly, prophetic and kingly mission, and it is this participation which forms the essential characteristics of the Christian.”(John Paul II 1980: 219, 270)

The Priestly Vocation and Mission:

The laity rarely give much thought to their priestly identity. Martin Scorsese, director of the Last Temptation of Christ, once thought that he had a “religious” calling: “I wanted to be a priest. However, I soon realized that my real vocation, my real calling was the movies.” (Graham, 314). Scorsese places priesthood, vocation and calling on a floor with work in the movie industry—he opted for movies. Scorsese’s curious remarks about his “calling” make sense in a culture which has gutted “priest” and “vocation” of any real meaning beyond that of career.
Clericalized views of the laity try to color in “priestly” tones to lay existence by blurring the essential distinction between the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood. We are being priestly to the extent that we share in the activities proper to ministerial priesthood.
Careerist and clericalized views of the priesthood skew the message of Vatican II and its most outstanding interpreter, John Paul II.. One of the most original contributions of Vatican II was is profound emphasis on the “two” modalities of Christian priesthood: the common priesthood and the ministerial priesthood. Vatican II attempted to rouse the laity to a more profound and enriched sense of their participation in the priesthood of Christ.
It also drew attention to the profound complementarity between the common and ministerial priesthood in a way that moved the common priesthood to center stage.(Rosato) According the John Paul II, the core mission of ministerial priesthood is to maintain and develop the common priesthood. (1980: 227) The ministerial priesthood is ordered to the common priesthood: “the ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood. It is directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1547).
The common priesthood is part of the “mystery” or ontology of the human person. (John Paul II 1979: ch.15) This priestly dimension is not just a question of tasks or functions to be performed; it defines the very nature and stance of the human person before God. John Paul II states that it “expresses in a particularly intimate but fundamental way the existential essence of faith.” The essence of faith is a primordial priestly act of sacrifice or self-giving in which the human person make a gift of himself to God—“commits his entire self to God.” “This commitment, contained in the very essence of faith, is realized most fully in the attitude which derives from sharing in the priesthood of Christ.” (John Paul II 1980: 223-25) John Paul II constantly returns to a pivotal passage in the Vatican II documents: “It follows, then, that if man is the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake, man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself.” The Pope states that “when man gives himself to God in this way, he rediscovers himself most fully.” (John Paul II 1980: 225)
The Gift of Self to God: Priesthood expresses the fundamental human vocation—the gift of self to God. In this sense, our participation in the priesthood of Christ is the most primordial of the threefold missions of Christ—“the simplest and profoundest expression of faith.” The priestly dimension of human personhood “contains within itself the authentic Christian relationship with God.” “This attitude also expresses the vocation of the person in its existential nucleus.” It is this primordial experience of vocation “to which we must constantly return.” (John Paul II 1980: 224)
For Newman, the priestly mission is also a signal of transcendence. Priesthood is a call to “devotion,” to “worship,” to “self-sacrificing love” (Newman 1901 I: xli, xciv). Pope John Paul II also underlines the importance of this aspect of the priestly mission: “The priesthood in particular is the form of self-expression of the man for who the world’s ultimate meaning can be found only in the dimension of the transcendental: in turning towards God who, as the fullness of personal Being, in himself transcends the world.” (John Paul II 1979: 132) The priestly mission expresses the reality that “human existence is ‘being directed towards God.’”
The Call to Sacrifice: The priestly dimension of life is embodied in the call to sacrifice. Christ “came as a Priest” insofar as he “offered a sacrifice” and “that Sacrifice was Himself—He offered Himself” (Newman’s italics; Newman 1991: 68) Newman argues that our “surrender and sacrifice of self to God” lies at the very core of Christian faith (Newman 1997: 1113, 1119). However, Newman also draws attention to the very practical ramifications of this surrender or sacrifice of self to God. Giving one’s life to God entails practical daily self-denial. The sacrificial or priestly dimension of human existence is a call to adulthood. (Newman 1997: 215-223, 1470-78)
In the “Discontents of Adulthood” David Guttmann provides an anthropological analysis of the link between adulthood and sacrifice. He argues that the mark of the transition to adulthood in most cultures is signaled by some rite which tests your willingness to risk your life, to sacrifice it, for a greater good. (Guttman 1999) In this sense, the priestly mission of the laity is a call to adulthood. It requires men and women who have the courage to sacrifice themselves, their time, their energy, their lives, for the sake of greater goods, for the sake of greater loves. It requires a “Gethsemane” willingness to risk and venture amid the uncertainties of the future.
The Catholic apostolate in the university offers a special context for this critical transition from adolescence to adulthood. Too often university-level spiritual formation programs are either non-existent or only serve to reinforce an adolescent focus on self-growth rather than facilitate transformation to adult self-giving. An adolescent faith cannot support adult life-structures or serve young men and women as they negotiate the difficult choices that lie before them. Participation in Christ’s priestly office involves a willingness to encounter and enter into difficulties, sufferings, failures, and poverty of life.
In short, the priestly dimension of lay formation is an education in Christian realism. “New age” forms of spirituality tend to skirt around the thorny realism of Christianity. Newman condemns such views as “superficial” and “unreal.” The cross of Christ offers us a deeper and truer perspective on the world. (Newman 1997: 1239-45) Life is beautiful; but life is also difficult, broken and deadly. Entering into life, loving, marrying, pursuing an occupation, are calls to adulthood. Young adults are invited to encounter the cross—to seek Christ in the dark and difficult sides of life. (Newman 1898: 54)

The Call to Prayer and Consecration of Daily Life

: Another practical expression of the priestly life of the laity is the call to holiness and devotion: “the Christian sacrifice is the life of prayer and praise.” Insofar as each lay person “offers up his own prayers…he is so far a priest for himself” (Newman 1991: 68-69). Lay spirituality must overcome the fragmentation of faith and life. The priestly dimension of the laity is expressed in the call to consecrate daily life. In his sermon, “Doing God’s Glory in the Pursuits of the World” Newman writes that for the lay person the encounter with Christ “lies in his worldly business…he will see Christ revealed to his soul amid the ordinary actions of the day, as by a sort of sacrament. Thus he will take his worldly business as a gift from Him, and love it as such.” (Newman 1997: 1662). A central part of this priestly mission of the laity is to develop an authentically “lay spirituality” that penetrates, illuminates, and consecrates daily life in the light of faith. Newman highlights the importance of the lay or popular spiritual and devotional life of the Church. He argues that the Church must be attentive to this critical domain of Catholic spirituality. He also suggests that the laity have a priestly competence over their spiritual life that needs to be attended to. The “devotional sentiments” of the laity “ought to be consulted” for “the laity have a testimony to give” (Coulson: 104). Furthermore, the laity should be responsibly proactive in the exercise of their priestly mission to offer prayer, worship and praise. In a sense, “the people have a special right to interfere in questions of devotion” (Holmes 1979: 104). Our young men and women must discover the importance of their priestly identity and mission in their own personal lives and in the life of their communities. They need to study the lives of lay men and women who have actualized this priestly mission as guides, mentors and leaders in the lay spiritual journey.

The Prophetic Vocation and Mission:

What is the prophetic life of the lay Catholic? It should amount to more than a regular glance at one’s daily horoscope or dabbling in pop Armageddon literature. In his preface to the Via Media, the prophetic mission is intimately connected with the intellectual dimension of Catholic faith (Preface to Via Media). The prophetic dimension of Christian existence grapples with our relationship to truth and faith.
Newman argues that the “truth” of Christian faith has been entrusted to all: “we have all an equal interest in it, no one less that another;” it is “a treasure, common to all.” We do not have the right to dump this prophetic mission on bishops or theologians and go our merry way. Newman states that “all of us, high and low, in our measure are responsible for the safe-keeping of the Faith …This Faith is what even the humblest member of the Church may and must contend for. ” (Newman 1997, 389-90)
The prophetic call is a call to a right relationship with “truth.” In his exploration of the prophetic mission, John Paul II argues that our “relationship to truth” is the “deciding factor in [] human nature” and an integral part of the “mystery” and “dignity” of the human person. (John Paul II: 119). “Christ, the great prophet is the one who proclaims divine truth; and he is also the one who shows the dignity of man to be bound up with truth: with truth honestly sought, earnestly pondered, joyfully accepted as the greatest treasure of the human spirit, witnessed to by word and deed in the sight of men”. (John Paul II 1979: 120)
In his encyclical on faith and reason, the Pope warns that there has been a dumbing down of human thinking in the modern age. The modern mind seems to be systematically begging “the radical questions about the meaning and ultimate foundation of human, personal and social existence.” The prophetic call lifts the human mind on the “twin wings of faith and reason”.(John Paul II 1998)
The prophetic mind does not drift into blind faith (fideism) or a narrow rationalism. John Paul II insists that, “the boldness of faith must be matched by the boldness of reason.” He quotes the words of St. Augustine: “If faith does not think, it is nothing.” “It is an illusion,” the Pope writes, “to think that faith, tied to weak reasoning, might be more penetrating; on the contrary, faith then runs the grave risk of withering into myth or superstition.” On the other hand, faith should be a goad to thought: “reason which is unrelated to an adult faith is not prompted to turn its gaze to the newness and radicality of being.” Faith incites and challenges the human mind to remain open to the ultimate concerns. “It is faith,” John Paul II states, “which stirs reason to move beyond all isolation and willingly to run risks so that it may attain whatever is beautiful, good and true. Faith thus becomes the convinced and convincing advocate of reason.” (John Paul II 1998)
The goal of serious lay formation is to awaken this prophetic identity and mission. Newman exhorted the laity to speak out and witness to the truth: “As troubles and trials circle round you, [God] will give you what you want at present—“a mouth, and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to resist and gainsay.” “There is a time for silence, and a time to speak;” the time for speaking is come.” (Newman 1889: 390) As prophet Christ moved men and women by a “wisdom of heart, convincing, persuading, enlightening, and ruling by a sovereignty over the conscience.” The laity are called to be men and women of “deep reflection and inventive genius.” who can speak meaningfully to their culture. (Newman 1898: 59-60)
Many pressing and controversial issues in the life of faith fall directly into the lay domain (marriage, family, education, abortion, religion and culture). The laity need to be thinking hard about the state of their world. We cannot just preach Catholic doctrine to the world in a flatfooted way. Look how little headway we seem to be making in issues as crucial as abortion. The prophetic voice must be “good” and “effective,” not drifting along at the margins snipping ineffectively at the enemy.
Prophecy demands fearless and creative engagement of culture. Prophetic thinking invites us to step out of the ideological matrix of our world structure and to critically assess or challenge the dominant cultural trends (Ardener 1989). Young people with little or no connection to Catholic faith, or even outright antipathy, are often fascinated by the critical cultural commentary generated by Catholic faith perspectives. Prophetic thinking is “purgative” (a faith-informed critique of culture) as well as “illuminative” (a contructive presentation of Catholic faith). We must learn the way of the prophet; to speak, to proclaim our faith intelligently, shrewdly, imaginatively. We want, in Newman’s words, “to learn to swim in troubled waters” and to “direct the current.” (Newman 1982: 177, 179)
The prophetic mission is an invitation to critically engage the philosophical and theological dimensions of Catholicism. According to Newman, the unique charism of lay participation in the prophetic mission centers on the dialectic of faith and culture. The laity are not called to concentrate their intellectual energies on foundational theology. The laity are the intellectual bridge between faith and reason. They are called, in the words of Claude Ryan, “to be agents of creative interaction between the order of grace and nature” (Ryan:18).
The prophetic journey is an ever-deeper engagement with faith coupled with more penetrating forays into one’s culture and historical context. Newman and John Paul II insist on the need for a constant “enlargement”, “development” (Newman 1997: 390) or “enrichment” (John Paul II 1980) of our faith. Though the humblest Christian is commissioned to guard the truth; nevertheless, Catholics in the educational sphere bear a special responsibility to foster this ‘unfolding’ and communication of Christian faith within our unique social and historical contexts.

The Kingly Vocation and Mission:

Participation in Christ’s kingly mission involves a transformation of self-identity. Young lay men and women are not just mundane folk who must fit into the groveling slot that the world has prepared for them. They are men and women who have “the royal blood of the Second Adam” flowing through their veins Cognizant of “the majesty of that new nature which is imparted to us” they are able to stand aloof from the “ordinary objects which men pursue—wealth, luxury, distinction, popularity, and power” as “mean-spirited and base-minded.” The Spirit of God “stands by us to strengthen us and raise our stature, and, as it were, to straighten our limbs, and to provide us with the wings of Angels, wherewith to mount heavenward” (Newman 1898: 145)
Students of the lay vocation must be educated in the royal nature of their call and become apprentices in the arts of kingship. This begins with a growing revelation of the nobility of their Christian vocation. Newman states that the believer must nurture a“self-respect” and learn to be “reverent … towards himself.” (Newman 1898: “Christian Nobleness”) A sense of the “dignity” and “royal freedom” of the lay faithful needs to be constantly cultivated (John Paul II 1993: 350-1) “Religious men,” Newman writes, “knowing what great things have been done for them, cannot but grow greater in mind in consequence. We know how power and responsibility change men in matters of this world. They become more serious, more vigilant, more circumspect, more practical, more decisive; they fear to commit mistakes, yet they dare more, because they have a consciousness of a liberty and of a power, and an opportunity for great successes.” (Newman 1898: 143)

 
Self-Governance: John Paul II states that kingship is “not the right to exercise dominion over others.” “It is a manifestion of the “kingly character” of man.” (John Paul II 1979: 138) It involves a regal maturity and self-governance in the private spheres of life. Newman warns that “nothing great or living can be done except when men are self-governed and independent.” (Patterson: 15) The transformation from adolescence to adult lay life involves at least three fundamental tasks of self-governance: choosing an occupation or life-work, making a marriage decision, and finding a social milieu or community. Lay formation must be based on a concept of the human person that celebrates responsible self-governance and self-possession.
Education in the arts of kingship also involves a call to active involvement in the public sphere. The laity, Newman said, need to learn how to “trust themselves,” to work together, to “fall back on themselves” for support and assistance. (Newman 1889: 388, 391) We are called, in the words of the Holy Father, to “assume leadership,” to build, to rule, to administer, to make a difference in the world. We need strong lay leaders. In so many critical sectors of their apostolate the laity have little in the way of meaningful resources. Where are the robust lay institutions and resources needed to engage the major ethical, legal, and political issues which bear directly upon crucial aspects of our live? We need kings, leaders, politicians, CEOs, who can make “good” things happen in a complex and often bad world.
Moral Leadership: The laity are called to transformative work and activity in the public sphere. However, the mere capacity to make an impact on the world is not a sign of authentic kingship. Christian kingship does not rule “by strength of arm” but “by a sovereignty over the conscience.” (Newman 1898: 59-60) Kingliness is the capacity to act in accordance with the inner law that has been written on the human heart. Kingly leadership is leadership with moral fiber. John Paul II also argues that the fundamental sign of kingly character is this ability to pursue the good and avoid evil. (John Paul II 1979: 137-45). Authentic lay formation speaks to the ethical foundations of Catholicism—its moral vision of the person, interpersonal relationships, institutions, and community.
The pursuit of the good cannot be accomplished by mere human moral endeavor. The way of kingship is a constant struggle with the immense power of sin. The struggle against the reign of sin not only requires discipline and the cultivation of virtue, it also is an invitation to ongoing confession, repentance and forgiveness. Like the prodigal son, the lay faithful constantly stray and violate their regal dignity. The grace of confession and repentant return to God is a mark of “royal freedom,” “spiritual grandeur,” and “kingliness” (John Paul II 1979: 142-43) The greatest of the penitential psalms (Ps. 51) is ascribed to the greatest of Israel’s kings, King David. Contrition is a kingly act since it restores us to right relationship with God’s “saving justice” and liberates us in our royal struggle with the “reign of sin.”
Lay formation is leadership formation. Each lay person is commissioned to serve the kingdom of God and battle against the reign of sin. This formation involves serious reflection on the principles guiding the moral development of the self and moral transformation of society. It also entails the study of tough and realistic strategies and skills for individual and social transformation. We don’t need ceremonial monarchs who know the right language and gestures but who are incapable of effecting meaningful change. We need kings and queens armed and ready for battle.
The Church, Secular Universities, and Lay Formation: Lay formation is absolutely critical to the progress of the laity and the mission of the church to the world. We need a new generation of lay leaders who have a more profound grasp of the lay vocation and the challenge of lay mission. Five hundred years ago, the Council of Trent recognized the central importance of substantive and integrated formation for clerical leadership. This sparked a massive effort to build seminaries and develop programs for priestly formation. Newman suggested that we need a similar revolution for lay formation. (Newman 1899 III: 242-45)
Newman maintained that there are two institutions of higher learning pivotal for the formation of Christian leaders—the seminary and the university. These institutions are very different. In his study of the rise of the Western university, Cardinal Newman wrote, “No two institutions are more distinct from each other in character, than Universities and Seminaries…they are for separate purposes, and they act in separate spheres.” (Newman 1899 III: 240)
What is the essential difference between a seminary and a university? Newman puts it simply: “Seminaries are for the education of the clergy; Universities for the education of laymen.” (Newman 1899 III: 240) The mission of the university is essentially linked to the work of lay formation. It prepares the laity for their Christian vocation in the world just as the seminary prepares the clergy for their unique vocation in the church. If the lay vocation is in the world, then the university must prepare them to enter that world. In his classical study The Idea of a University, Newman writes, “We cannot possibly keep them from plunging into the world, with all its ways and principles and maxims, when their time comes; but we can prepare them… and it is not the way to learn to swim in troubled waters, never to have gone into them… A university is a direct preparation for this world… It is not a Convent, it is not a Seminary; it is a place to fit men [and women] of the world for the world.” (Newman 1982: 177)
Newman devoted a portion of his life to the creation of a Catholic university, however, he also recognized the vital need to build an authentic Catholic presence within secular universities. The crucial significance of this apostolate for lay formation today merits even more attention. Within Church documents attention is focused almost exclusively on Catholic universities. We lack a coherent vision of the Catholic mission in secular universities. There is no substantive intellectual discussion of this mission. Investment of personnel and resources into building effective Catholic apostolates on secular campuses is minimal. We lack robust institutes and think-tanks dedicated to the exploration of this crucial arena of lay formation.There are some fundamental reasons why this situation needs correction. First, there are serious practical considerations. Secular universities are, and will continue to be, the academic setting where the vast majority of young Catholic men and women receive their formation. Our brightest and best students in medicine, law, science, and the arts will inevitably be drawn to the world-class secular universities which excel in these fields. Furthermore, the vast majority of our Catholic scholars work with secular settings. Their formation and mission within the university merits serious attention and support.
Secondly, secular universities can claim to offer a very rigorous and tough training ground for the laity. If the lay vocation is in the world, then the university must prepare them to enter that world. Secular universities do present a clear and ever present danger for Christian faith. But so does the secular world into which young lay men and women will soon be plunged. Vigorous Catholic apostolates on secular campuses should be prepared to meet this challenge with courage, creativity, and enthusiasm.
Third, the fact that the lines of demarcation between faith and secular culture are clearly drawn may, as Newman argues, prove to be “a great gain.” In Catholic colleges and universities the situation can be confusing. Catholic educational institutions often limp along smiling weakly at the surrounding cultural confusion. Their relationship to Catholic faith may be ambiguous. “It is a miserable time,” Newman writes, “when a man’s Catholic profession is no voucher for his orthodoxy, and when a teacher of religion may be within the Church’s pale, yet external to her faith.” He concludes: “I prefer to live in an age when the fight is in the day, not in the twilight; and I think it a gain to be speared by a foe, rather than to be stabbed by a friend.” (Newman 1982: 286, 294) The fact that secular universities make no pretense of representing Catholic faith may be their strength. Catholics in secular universities are under no illusion that their faith will be formed or enriched by such institutions. A very vibrant Catholic presence within a secular university may offer a healthier setting for the formation of the laity.
In the Rise and Progress of Universities Newman noted that seminaries had been “fostered and advanced during these last centuries,” however, he lamented the fact that the critical role of the university had been overlooked. He looked forward to a “new era” in which the Church would embrace a “bolder policy” to revive the Catholic mission in the university. Newman argued that this was the time for “great hopes, great schemes, great efforts, great beginnings” (Newman 1899 III: 244-45, 251)

Conclusion

The challenge that Newman put forward continues to receive vigorous support in the thought and ministry of John Paul II. However, it is probably fair to say that this vision and challenge continues to be overlooked by most pastors and their flocks. The state of the laity might be compared to the dismal situation of old King Theoden in Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. When Gandalf approached the king to seek assistance in the struggle against the Dark Lord, he encountered a monarch who was shriveled, bent, and fearful. Theoden had retreated from the dark world into his comfortable castle. He had been reduced to inaction and impotence by the conniving words of Wormtongue, his evil councilor. Wormtongue always claimed to have the best interests of the King at heart; he underlined the feeble and weak position of the king; he stressed the harsh and dreadful nature of the world. He encouraged the king to lead a passive existence in his safe haven from the world.
Gandalf roused Theoden. He threw open the doors of the King’s chamber and let the “keen air” of reality whistle in. The king shook himself out of his stupor and proclaimed that the “the time for fear is past.” He armed himself for battle – ready for glory in defeat or in victory. (Tolkein 1992 II: ch.6)
Another Gandalf, clad in white with staff in hand, appeared quite unexpectedly one autumn day in 1978. John Paul II’s solemn inauguration proclaimed a solemn message from “the servant of the servants of God.” His words broke into the dark and dusty halls of lay existence: “Be not afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power. . . Be not afraid. Open wide the doors to Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of states, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development. Be not afraid. Christ knows `what is in man`.” (Weigel 1999: 262)
The laity need to be “roused”—awakened by a ‘high’ doctrine of the laity. Wormtongue pedagogies should be pushed aside. We need men and women inflamed with a priestly zeal for lay spiritual life, men and women burning with prophetic concern for their faith and their culture, men and women empowered with kingly hearts and kingly skills to fight the good fight. We need to feel the “keen air,” the “severe and exorbitant demands,” flowing from a truly “high” vision of the laity.

Dan Cere
Newman Institute of Catholic Studies
McGill University

Works Cited

Ardener, Edwin. (1989) The Voice of Prophecy and Other Essays. London: Basil Blackwell.

Benson, Iain, (2001) “Secular Confusions” The Newman Rambler vol. 5.1:18-22

Coulson, John (ed.). (1986) John Henry Newman, On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine. London.

Graham, David J. (1997) “Christ Imagery in Recent Film” in Images of Christ Ancient and Modern ed. by Stanley E. Porter et. al., Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. 305-14.

Guttmann, David. (1999) “Adulthood and Its Discontents” Working Paper for the Council on Families, Institute for American Values.

Holmes, Derek J. (1979) The Theological Papers of John Henry Newman on Biblical Inspiration and on Infallibility. Oxford: Clarendon.

John Paul II. (1979) Sign of Contradiction, New York: Seabury.

John Paul II. (1980) Sources of Renewal. Glasgow: Collins.

John Paul II (1989) Christifideles Laici. Vatican.

John Paul II (1993) Person and Community New York: Peter Lang.

John Paul II (1998) Fides et Ratio Vatican.

John Paul II (1999) Ecclesia in America Vatican.

Langan, Janine. (2000) “On Being a Lay Person” The Newman Rambler. 4:1, 11-14.

Lonergan, Bernard. (1979) Method in Theology. New York: Seabury.

Mozley, Anne (ed.). (1891) Letters and Correspondence of John Henry Newman. 2 vols. London: Longmans.

Newman, John Henry. (1889) Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England. London: Longmans.

Newman, John Henry. (1956) Faith and Prejudice and Other Unpublished Sermons. New York: Sheed and Ward.

Newman, John Henry. (1982) The Idea of a University. Notre Dame, Ind.: Univ. Notre Dame Press.

Newman, John Henry. (1898) Sermons Bearing on Subjects of the Day. London: Longmans.

Newman, John Henry (1991) John Henry Newman: Sermons 1824-43. Oxford: Clarendon.

Newman, John Henry. (1997) Parochial and Plain Sermons. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Newman, John Henry (1899) Historical Sketches. 3 vols. London: Longmans.

Newman, John Henry (1901). The Via Media. 2 vols. London: Longmans.

Patterson, Webster. (1968) Newman: Pioneer for the Layman. Washington D.C.: Corpus.

Rosato, Philip J. (1987) “Priesthood of the Baptized and Priesthood of the Ordained.” Gregorianum 68: 215-266.

Sharkey, Michael. (1987) “Newman on the Laity” Gregorianum 68: 339-46.

Shaw, Russell. (1993) To Hunt, To Shoot, To Entertain: Clericalism and the Catholic Laity. San Francisco.

Tolkein, J.R.R. (1992) The Lord of the Rings 3 vols. London: Harper Collins.

Weigel, George. (1999) Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II New York: Harper Collins

Advertisements

Occasionally, some of your vi

October 11, 1962: The Key To Understanding Vatican II and Pope Francis’ “Amoris Laetitia” according to St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II

Repeating the texts of St. John the XXIII as to communicating the Truth of Revelation:

Text of St. John XXIII

15. Nor is the primary purpose of our
work to discuss some of the chief articles of the
Church’s doctrine or to repeat at length what the
Fathers and ancient and more recent theologians
have handed on, things which we have every
right to think are not unknown to you but reside
in your minds. To have only such discussions
there would have been no need to call an
Ecumenical Council. What instead is necessary
today is that the whole of Christian doctrine,
with no part of it lost, be received in our times
by all with a new fervor, in serenity and peace,
in that traditional and precise conceptuality and
expression which is especially displayed in the
acts of the Councils of Trent and Vatican I. As
all sincere promoters of Christian, Catholic, and
apostolic faith strongly desire, what is needed is
that this doctrine be more fully and more
profoundly known and that minds be more fully
imbued and formed by it. What is needed is that
this certain and unchangeable doctrine, to which
loyal submission is due, be investigated and
presented in the way demanded by our times.
For the deposit of faith, the truths contained in
our venerable doctrine, are one thing; the
fashion in which they are expressed, but with
the same meaning and the same judgement, is
another thing. This way of speaking will require
a great deal of work and, it may be, much
patience: types of presentation must be
introduced which are more in accord with a
teaching authority which is primarily pastoral in
character.

CONSIDER JOHN PAULL II’s comment: “If we study the Conciliar magisterium as a whole, we find that the Pastors of the Church were not so much concerned to answer questions like ‘What should men believe?’ ‘What is the real meaning of this or that truth of faith?’ and so on, but rather to answer the ore complex question: ‘What does it mean to be a believer, a Catholic and a member of the Church?’ They endeavored to answer this question in the broad context of today’s world, as indeed the complexity of the question requires….(I)t not only presupposes the truth of faith and pure doctrine, but also calls for that truth to be situated in the human consciousness and calls for a definition of the attitude, or rather the many attitudes, that go to make the individual a believing member of the Church. This would seem to be the main respect in which in which the Conciliar magisterium has a pastoral character corresponding to the pastoral purpose for which it was called. A ‘purely doctrinal Council would have concentrated on defining the precise meaning of the truths of faith, whereas a pastoral Council proclaims, recalls or clarifies truths for the primary purpose of giving Christians a life-style, a way of thinking and acting… This is the the style we must keep before our minds…. We shall concentrate on the consciousness pf Christians and the attitudes they should acquire. These attitudes, springing from a well-formed Christian conscience, can in a sense be regarded as true proof of the realization of the Council. This is the direction which should be followed by all pastoral action, the lay apostolate and the whole of the Church’s activity” [Karol Wojtyla “Sources of Renewal” Harper and Row (1979) 18.

Now, Consider the most controversial texts of Amoris Laetitia Chapter 8

Amoris Laetitia

303. Recognizing the influence of such concrete
factors, we can add that individual conscience
needs to be better incorporated into the
Church’s praxis in certain situations which do
not objectively embody our understanding of
marriage. Naturally, every effort should be made
to encourage the development of an enlightened
conscience, formed and guided by the responsible
and serious discernment of one’s pastor, and
to encourage an ever greater trust in God’s grace.
Yet conscience can do more than recognize that
a given situation does not correspond objectively
to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can
also recognize with sincerity and honesty what
for now is the most generous response which
345 Cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts,
Declaration Concerning the Admission to Holy Communion of Faithful
Who are Divorced and Remarried (24 June 2000), 2. 346 Relatio Finalis 2015, 85.
235
can be given to God, and come to see with a certain
moral security that it is what God himself
is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s
limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal. In
any event, let us recall that this discernment is
dynamic; it must remain ever open to new stages
of growth and to new decisions which can enable
the ideal to be more fully realized.
Rules and discernment
304. It is reductive simply to consider whether or
not an individual’s actions correspond to a general
law or rule, because that is not enough to discern
and ensure full fidelity to God in the concrete life
of a human being. I earnestly ask that we always
recall a teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas and
learn to incorporate it in our pastoral discernment:
“Although there is necessity in the general principles,
the more we descend to matters of detail, the
more frequently we encounter defects… In matters
of action, truth or practical rectitude is not
the same for all, as to matters of detail, but only
as to the general principles; and where there is the
same rectitude in matters of detail, it is not equally
known to all… The principle will be found to fail,
according as we descend further into detail”.347 It
is true that general rules set forth a good which
can never be disregarded or neglected, but in their
formulation they cannot provide absolutely for all
347 Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 94, art. 4.
236
particular situations. At the same time, it must be
said that, precisely for that reason, what is part of
a practical discernment in particular circumstances
cannot be elevated to the level of a rule. That
would not only lead to an intolerable casuistry, but
would endanger the very values which must be
preserved with special care.348
305. For this reason, a pastor cannot feel that
it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those
living in “irregular” situations, as if they were
stones to throw at people’s lives. This would bespeak
the closed heart of one used to hiding behind
the Church’s teachings, “sitting on the chair
of Moses and judging at times with superiority
and superficiality difficult cases and wounded
families”.349 Along these same lines, the International
Theological Commission has noted that
“natural law could not be presented as an already
established set of rules that impose themselves a
priori on the moral subject; rather, it is a source
of objective inspiration for the deeply personal
process of making decisions”.350 Because of
348 In another text, referring to the general knowledge of
the rule and the particular knowledge of practical discernment,
Saint Thomas states that “if only one of the two is present, it
is preferable that it be the knowledge of the particular reality,
which is closer to the act”: Sententia libri Ethicorum, VI, 6 (ed.
Leonina, t. XLVII, 354.) 349 Address for the Conclusion of the Fourteenth Ordinary General
Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (24 October 2015): L’Osservatore
Romano, 26-27 October 2015, p. 13.
350 International Theological Commission, In Search of
a Universal Ethic: A New Look at Natural Law (2009), 59.
237
forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it
is possible that in an objective situation of sin –
which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully
such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can
love and can also grow in the life of grace and
charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this
end.351 Discernment must help to find possible
ways of responding to God and growing in the
midst of limits. By thinking that everything is
black and white, we sometimes close off the way
of grace and of growth, and discourage paths of
sanctification which give glory to God. Let us remember
that “a small step, in the midst of great
human limitations, can be more pleasing to God
than a life which appears outwardly in order,
but moves through the day without confronting
great difficulties”.352 The practical pastoral care
of ministers and of communities must not fail to
embrace this reality.

“BLOGGER”

Observe that the epistemological horizon or mental context of AL #304-306 is different than conceptual thinking or propositional and objectified logic. Pope Francis is working in precisely the way St. John XXIII was asking of Vatican II and Karol Wojtyla described as the epistemological achievement of the Council documents. It is the mental horizon of the Fathers of the Church at the very beginning which was lost in the early part of the Second Millennium notably at the time of the Reformation (1500) and the philosophic formulations of Scotus and Occam. The relational experience of the person was lost which devolved into the Cartesian “I” and the loss of analogy between Creator and creation. The recovery that has been championed by Vatican II is restoring reason not by way of objectification as ideology but a true metaphysics of the person accessible through phenomenology. The tone of this is reminiscent of the lived faith experience of the Fathers of the Church.
The internecine war that is raging in the inner circles of the Church is giving evidence that October 11, 1962 – anniversary of the Theotokos of the Council of Ephesus [Theotokos] and the “nihil obstat” of Opus Dei – and the opening of the Vatican Council – is beginning to approach harvest time.

Speech of Pope John XXIII on the Reason He Called Vatican II

How Doctrine is to be Promoted Today:

14. On these bases it is clear, Venerable
Brethren, what is expected of the Ecumenical
Council with regard to doctrine. The twenty-first
Ecumenical Council, which uses the effective
and significant assistance of experts in the
sacred sciences, in the apostolate, and in
administration, wishes to transmit whole and
entire and without distortion the Catholic
doctrine which, despite difficulties and
controversies, has become the common heritage
of humanity. Although it has not been well
received by all, it is nonetheless presented to all
men of good will as a very rich treasure. But our
task is not only to guard this precious treasure,
as if we were concerned only with an antiquity;
eagerly and without fear, we must devote
ourselves to the task our age demands, pursuing
the path which the Church has followed for
twenty centuries.

15. Nor is the primary purpose of our
work to discuss some of the chief articles of the
Church’s doctrine or to repeat at length what the
Fathers and ancient and more recent theologians
have handed on, things which we have every
right to think are not unknown to you but reside
in your minds. To have only such discussions
there would have been no need to call an
Ecumenical Council. What instead is necessary
today is that the whole of Christian doctrine,
with no part of it lost, be received in our times
by all with a new fervor, in serenity and peace,
in that traditional and precise conceptuality and
expression which is especially displayed in the
acts of the Councils of Trent and Vatican I. As
all sincere promoters of Christian, Catholic, and
apostolic faith strongly desire, what is needed is
that this doctrine be more fully and more
profoundly known and that minds be more fully
imbued and formed by it. What is needed is that
this certain and unchangeable doctrine, to which
loyal submission is due, be investigated and
presented in the way demanded by our times.
For the deposit of faith, the truths contained in
our venerable doctrine, are one thing; the
fashion in which they are expressed, but with
the same meaning and the same judgement, is
another thing. This way of speaking will require
a great deal of work and, it may be, much
patience: types of presentation must be
introduced which are more in accord with a
teaching authority which is primarily pastoral in
character.

CONSIDER JOHN PAULL II’s comment: “If we study the Conciliar magisterium as a whole, we find that the Pastors of the Church were not so much concerned to answer questions like ‘What should men believe?’ ‘What is the real meaning of this or that truth of faith?’ and so on, but rather to answer the ore complex question: ‘What does it mean to be a believer, a Catholic and a member of the Church?’ They endeavored to answer this question in the broad context of today’s world, as indeed the complexity of the question requires….(I)t not only presupposes the truth of faith and pure doctrine, but also calls for that truth to be situated in the human consciousness and calls for a definition of the attitude, or rather the many attitudes, that go to make the individual a believing member of the Church. This would seem to be the main respect in which in which the Conciliar magisterium has a pastoral character corresponding to the pastoral purpose for which it was called. A ‘purely doctrinal Council would have concentrated on defining the precise meaning of the truths of faith, whereas a pastoral Council proclaims, recalls or clarifies truths for the primary purpose of giving Christians a life-style, a way of thinking and acting… This is the the style we must keep before our minds…. We shall concentrate on the consciousness pf Christians and the attitudes they should acquire. These attitudes, springing from a well-formed Christian conscience, can in a sense be regarded as true proof of the realization of the Council. This is the direction which should be followed by all pastoral action, the lay apostolate and the whole of the Church’s activity” [Karol Wojtyla “Sources of Renewal” Harper and Row (1979) 18.

On the Occasion of October 11, 1943: [To Escriva] – “Come Back in One Hundred Years.”

Response to Escriva for the Nihil Obstat [“There is no obstacle”] on Opus Dei, October 11, 1943

Blogger’s take on the today’s celebration: The Church had conceptualized itself on the lines of categories of lay men and priests. Today on October 11, 1943, because of what had been given to St. Josemaria Escriva on February 14th 1943, the Church declared that there was no obstacle to consider laymen and priests to be in the same category of being equally called to be saints

I write this by way of introducing the “development” (below) to today’s anniversary of the Nihil Obstat of Opus Dei October 11, 1943, the old feast of Our Lady as Mother of God (provoked by the Council of Ephesus in 431 on her giving the Son of God His full humanity). It was also, besides, the opening of the Second Vatican Council. The import of the the anniversary of the Nihil Obstat is that priests and laymen have the same vocation to be Christ Himself, the very meaning of sanctity and holiness.

Today’s historical commemoration opened the way to transcend the clericalisms that derived from the spiritual and juridical reality of the religious state that became identified canonically and historically with the way – and only way – to achieve canonizable sanctity. Canonically it involved leaving the secular world and taking the vows of poverty, chastity (celibaby) and obedience.pelled the death knell of clericalism that was mistakenly derived from the religious (and the priest by extension) leaving the world, It involved entering a world apart which was called the state of perfection canonically and fortified by vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The achievement of Sanctity was associated with this state. As such, it was not denied that the laity could be saints but it was by exception (proof of which is that fact there are still very few laymen canonized saints except in exceptional situations like martyrdom). The lay state became dominated by the rule of morality instead of sanctity.

Historically, Salvation had been broken up into three ages in conformity to the Three Persons of the Trinity by theologians after the second millennium. The Old Testament was the age of the Father. The Age of the Son was the time of Christ. His words produced the anticipation that the definition time of the final judgment by the Messiah was about to take place: “If it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons then the Kingdom of God has come upon you” (Lk. 11, 20). But after a millennium, it seemed that nothing had happened. “After two thousand years of Christian history, we can see nothing that might be a new reality in the world; rather, we find it sunk in the same old horrors, the same despair, and the same hopes as ever.” So, what did the theologians do? They transformed the salvation of man into the salvation of souls, and the Kingdom of God that was to take place in this world into a “kingdom of heaven that is beyond this world.” Ratzinger commented that “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.”

3) Enter Opus Dei and the locution to St. Josemaria on August 7, 1931 that he is to inaugurate the spirit of becoming “other Christs” at the heart of the secular world. In a word, lay faithful and ministerial priests are radically equal as sacramentally inserted in Christ the priest – whose priesthood consists in mediating between himself and the Father for us. He is Mediator between Himself and the Father, and that Christological anthropology must become ours. Hence, we are to be “priests [mediators] of our own existence” as the Logos was of His as man. In this, laity and priest are radically equal as subjects mastering self to subdue the earth (as Adam), and by so doing get possession of themselves in order to work to subdue the earth, own it, and make a gift of it to another. It becomes an economy of “gift” (of self and product) and by this Christological anthropology of going out of self, become other Christs. Adam experienced this in the garden when he subdued the earth and named the animals (owning them), He experienced being “alone: as an “I” in a creation of “it” and because of this, God saw it as “not good” and created the woman to complete the imaging of the Trinitarian “three” (“Let us make man in our image,” Gen. 1, 26).
And so, the laity and the ministerial priest all share equally in the one priesthood of Christ. They are priests of their own existences in that they are capable of making the gft of themselves to God and each other as Christ made the gift of Himself to the Father for us by His obedience on the Cross. He did not enter the Holy of Holies with the blood of “goats and calves” (Heb. 9, 12), but with His own Blood. This is the gift of Himself. Laymen and priests are equally capable of doing that on the basis of two distinct sacraments: Baptism, and Orders. The difference is essential. The gift of the laity is to God for the world. The gift of the priest is to the layman to activate his/her priesthood.

And so, there is no third stage of Salvation history. Christ is not a turning point, but the point, the center of all creation (Col. 1, 15-19). The Eschatology (last times) are not only at the end of time but now. Christ wants to be placed at the summit of all human activities, NOW (Jn. 15, 32: “When I am lifted up from the earth, you will know that I am”. Not in a stroke, but as already, not yet. He is already present among us, but we have not become fully Him yet. By the asceticism of small things, small conversions, small startings again and again, each one is becoming “another Christ,” by letting Christ act in them and then in Christ in the world, in the most secular of situations – loving the world passionately. I mean, as I give myself to God in the ordinary stuff of everyday, I progressively become more and more gift to God and to the others – serving. I become more and more Christ. As we become more and more gift, and therefore more and more Christ, and we are the protagonists of all human work, we are the summit. And now Christ is at the summit insofar as we good at what we do.
This can be understood only if and when the human person is understood subjectively and as relation to others which is a development of the received metaphysic have been formed in. The Fathers of the Church in the first centuries had this, and St. Thomas Aquinas in his understanding of esse, the act of Being Itself. The act of Being Itself is not a being, but the dynamic thrust over nothingness that is Ipsum Esse, and Ipsum Esse is both totally transcendent and totally immanent to all created reatity that is. And, of course, this totally transcendent and totally immanent thrust over nothingness is the Person of Jesus Christ.
4) This dynamic in Opus Dei was to become the catalyst of the revolution that took place in Vatican II, particularly in developing the document Lumen Gentium in 1964. This dynamic is at the root of proclaiming the universal call to sanctity that is the catalyst of the global culture that is to emerge: the new civilization of love.

Development:
“Appositio Manuum,” October 11, 1943: Nihil Obstat on Opus Dei: Today should be a feast for the universal Church since what happened for Opus Dei today in 1943 happened for the universal Church in the promulgation of Lumen Gentium (The “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church”) on November 21, 1964 during the Second Vatican Council. On this date in 1943, the Holy See put its hands over Opus Dei approving the radical equality of laity and priests as “sharing one and the same basic theological condition and belong (ing) to the same primary common category.”[1] The founder of Opus Dei, St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer remarked: “In Opus Dei we’re all equal. There’s only a practical difference: priests are more bound to place their hearts on the floor like a carpet, so that their brothers and sisters may tread softly.”[2]

In a word, the canonical struggle for Opus Dei to find a juridical mould to hold the radical equality of laymen and priests as having the same vocation, spirituality and formation anticipated the struggle to achieve the radical equality of the “People of God” (soon to be upgraded to the terminology of “Communio”[3]). A like struggle took place in the Second Vatican Council that rewrote its preparatory schemas, most notably Lumen Gentium, from a clericalized and hierarchialized ecclesiology to one calling for recognition of the radical equality of all the baptized in Christ with what can be called a functional diversity of hierarchy, laity and religious.

The History:

With Opus Dei, it all took place in 1943. On February 14, “Fr. Josemaria was celebrating holy Mass in the center of Opus Dei’s women’s branch in Madrid. Suddenly, during holy sacrifice a new light shone in his interior. Once again God had entered his life and marked out the way. `When I finished celebrating Mass I designed the seal of the Work, Christ’s cross embracing the world, in the very heart of the world, and I could speak of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross’…

“Fr. Escriva now saw, with a clarity that confirmed the earlier lights, that God wanted … as an integral part of Opus Dei, a priestly body to perpetuate Christ’s actions, especially the Mass, which represents and makes present the supreme immolation of the Cross. The Cross must be inscribed in the world, reaching the four cardinal points, brought by each Christian with his life and work. To make this possible, so that ordinary Christians – with their common priesthood – might be one with Christ and make him present among men, they must be backed by like-minded sacred ministers, as instruments of Christ to communicate life and grace. Hence, as the Church is structured so also must Opus Dei be, in its own way.” [4]

Since the Church had not yet gone through the Second Vatican Council, it would be more accurate to say that Opus Dei was struggling with the absence of a juridical structure and an adequate theology before and in preparation for that the Church was going to go through from 1962 to 1965 and beyond.

“What aims was the founder trying to accommodate? He sought the canonical erection of a priestly [read clerical or ministerial because the laity by baptism are already “priestly”] group or body within the total pastoral phenomenon of Opus Dei, so he could count on priests from the lay ranks of Opus Dei and formed according to its spirit, ascribed to the Work with no change in their secular condition. They would answer to the President General [the problem of incardination had to be solved] for the exercise of their ministry: pastorally tending to the members of Opus Dei and cooperating with them in their apostolic endeavors.

“But the 1917 Code of Canon Law permitted only ascription to a diocese or a religious institute…. Among the non-religious associations or societies, only some, the so-called Societies of common life without vows (title 17, book 2, CIV 1917) enjoyed the faculty of incardinating priests, if with the Holy See’s approval this were established in their constitutions or granted to them by papal indult….

“With the light of February 14, Opus Dei’s founder decided to take a new juridical step. He proposed to the ecclesiastical authority a formula he characterized as `the only viable solution within the framework of the present law. I am ready to yield in the words, so long as the document itself always affirms in a precise way the true substance of our way.’ The step would solve immediate problems, though still not totally satisfactory.

“In choosing this solution for the sake of having priests, the founder did not see Opus Dei as such being transformed into a Society of common life. Rather as he explained in a 1944 Letter, his idea was: `to transform a small nucleus of our Work, made up of priests and some laymen approaching ordination, into a Society of common life without vows, the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross…. [5]

The Shortcomings: 1) “Opus Dei appeared as something secondary: as an association proper to and inseparable from the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, when the fact of the matter is that none of these two parts of our Work is secondary. Both of them are principal.”[6] “The priests and lay people who are the protagonists of a single pastoral phenomenon, united in self-giving, are co-responsible for a single mission, to whose realization both actively contribute. The function of the ministerial priesthood consists in making present in the organism of the Work Christ’s face and grace, mainly through the sacraments.”

2) “(E)ven though the new juridical formula clarified that Opus Dei members were not religious, the figure of Societies of common life was seen by most canonists as approaching the religious state. This formula, therefore, could sow confusion. The founder did all he could to stress the differences….

“The founder spared no pains to reflect and safeguard in the best way possible Opus Dei’s secularity. But the limitations of the juridical figure remained. In itself it was incapable of faithfully expressing the reality of Opus Dei. While the additional refinements managed to safeguard the substance, they did not achieve a fully satisfactory fit. It was the `least inappropriate’ solution from among the possible ones…. In 1944 he wrote, `For the moment there is no better arrangement’ … `Let’s pray and live in a holy way,’ he added, `the spirit we have received from God, and he will give us the definitive juridical structure to preserve us faithful to our vocation and to render us effective in the tasks of our apostolate.’[7]”[8] The whole of this would have to wait for the creation of a doctrinal and juridical paradigm shift or revolution that would make it possible for Opus Dei to take its correct place as “a little bit of the Church.”[9] This revolution and paradigm shift was the Second Vatican Council.

The Parallel between the Radical Equality in Opus Dei (October 11, 1943) and the Radical Equality of All in the Church (November 21, 1964.

The Evolution of Lumen Gentium in the Second Vatican Council: As Opus Dei was struggling for diocesan and pontifical recognition as a secular phenomenon where laymen and priests were equally called to holiness, the Church of the Second Vatican Council was going through a like struggle in re-interpreting itself as a people of God that was radically equal with a functional diversity within this same and equal people of being hierarchy, laity and religious. Writ small, Opus Dei was going through what the Church was about to go through writ large:

The first schema for Lumen Gentium consisted of, I: The Mystery of the Church; II: The Hierarchy; III. Laity; IV: Religious…. The significance of this is the identity of the Church with the Hierarchy. The Church being considered primarily hierarchy, then comes derivatively, the laity and the religious. Concerning this schema and the others, then-Cardinal Ratzinger commented: “The situation was that proposals had already been worked out in Rome for the composition of the Curia, the commissions. And the expectation was that there would be an immediate vote on the basis of those proposed lists. Now, many of the Father didn’t want that. Then both Cardinal Lienart and Cardinal Frings rose to their feet and said that we cannot simply vote at this time, that we have to get in contact with one another in order to find out who is suitable for what, that the elections have to be postponed. That was the first drumbeat at the beginning of the Council.”[10]
Following on that “the chapter of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium devoted to the People of God was significantly transposed. As is well known, this chapter appeared as the result of dividing into two parts an earlier draft entitled De Populo Dei et speciatim de laicis, which came after the section dealing with the Hierarchy. The new arrangement placed the chapter De Populo Dei second in the Constitution precisely to emphasize the condition which is common to all the Christifideles, who are dealt with in greater detail according to their different functions, in later chapters: the hierarchy in chapter III, the laity in chapter IV and the religious in chapter VI.”[11]

Further on, Alvaro del Portillo continues,

“It is extremely useful to trace… the steps of Vatican II…. (I)n drafting the text of the Constitution Lumen Gentium an attempt was made to distinguish clearly the view of the People of God as a whole from the various missions fulfilled by the members. Or, in other words, an effort was made to separate clearly the rights and obligations common to all the members of the People of God from those which are specific to particular categories of the faithful: deacons, priests and bishops, (this is to say the members of the Sacra Hierarchia) in one category, the laity in another and religious in a third category. For this reason the division of what was originally one chapter (De Populo Dei speciatim de laicis) into the present chapters II (De Populo Dei) and IV (De laicis)… is highly significant as regards distinguishing the generic concept of `members of the People of God’ (the condition common to all on the place of equality) from the other, specific concept, a typological description of which would center around the characteristic layness (Laicus). Laicus in the terminology of the council does not denote the generic concept of member-of-the-Church, but rather a special category which includes neither clerics nor religious.”[12]

[1] Alvaro del Portillo, Faithful and Laity in the Church, Ecclesia Press, Shannon Ireland (1972) 19.
[2] Pedro Rodriguez, “The Place of Opus Dei in the Church” Opus Dei in the Church, Scepter (1994)38.
[3] “Communio” is a deeper and more exact formulation of the meaning of the Church than “people of God” since the unity it expresses is not only a likeness in one aspect, but a “pluriformity” of radically disparate persons. The Extraordinary Synod of 1985 says, “The ecclesiology of communion is the central and fundamental idea of the Council’s documents. Koinonia/communion, founded on Sacred Scripture, has been held in great honor in the early Church and in the Oriental Churches to this day. Thus, much was done by the Second Vatican Council so that the Church as communion might be more clearly understood and concretely incorporated into life.” The Synod then says, “Here we have the true theological principle of variety and pluriformity in unity, but it is necessary to distinguish pluriformity from pure pluralism. When pluriformity is true richness and carries with it fullness, this is true catholicity;” The Extraordinary Synod 1985: Message to the People of God.
[4] Fuenmayor, Gomez Iglesias, Illanes, The Canonical Path of Opus Dei, Scepter MTF

Anniversary of the Canonization of St. Josemaria Escriva

a407es

 

 

“And so, at the Second Vatican Council, the Church made the extraordinary leap, the epochal transformation, from a Church organized along lines that had worked well enough in the medieval age (that was) clerical, to a Church organized to survive and flourish and live out the faith in a `new age,’ an age of a looming `new world order’…

“The Holy Father pronounced the formula of canonization for the Spanish priest at 10:23 a.m. in St. Peter’s Square. And so, in a certain sense, we may say that we know the exact minute that the old century and the old world ended: at 10:23 a.m. in Rome on a sunny October morning in the year 2002.”[1]

The Formula of Canonization: John Paul II pronounced: “With the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and ours (authority), after have deliberated long and repeatedly invoking divine help and having listened to the advice of many of our brothers in the episcopate, we declare and define Blessed Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer a Saint; we inscribe him in the Catalogue of the saints and establish that he be devoutly honored as such in the entire Church. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

The Significance of this Canonization: These words show that the canonization is an act whose nature is distinct from the beatification, an act which theologians call a “dogmatic fact” and not simply a confirmation of what came before. In the beatification, the Roman Pontiff exercises the supreme legislative power which corresponds to him in the Church authorizing that one of the faithful be called blessed and receive public cult in particular places according to the modes established by law. In the canonization, on the other hand, the Pope declares and defines as a truth of catholic doctrine that one of the faithful is a saint, and extends his cult to the whole Church. This truth, taught by the supreme Magisterium of the Church in the solemn canonization, requires the definitive assent of the faithful, “founded on the faith in the assistance of the Holy Spirit to the Magisterium of the Church, and on the catholic doctrine of the infallibility of the Magisterium” (SCDF Nota Doctrinalis on the formula of the Profession of faith, 29-VI-1998, #6 Cfr. John Paul II, Ad Tuendam fidem, 18-V-1998, #3,4).

Before the canonization, anyone who knew the holy life of Josemaria Escriva could have the certainty that he was a saint, and with greater reason after the 17 of May in 1992 when the Church authorized public cult to him. Now, the certainty is of another order as from a superior light. It is the certainty of the faith in what the Magisterium of the Church has definitively taught in the canonization.

We might also say that, since the person of St. Josemaria Escriva was indistinguishable from the his mission,[2] and that he achieved holiness by living out the very spirit he had been given to him, by canonizing the person as saint, the act also canonizes the spirit as truly a way of holiness.

The essential message of St. Josemaria is found in the following statement: “There is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it.”[3] Alvaro del Portillo commented: “This doctrine is so transcendental that the Church has wanted to proclaim it solemnly in the last Council and to make it into `the most characteristic feature and the ultimate purpose of all the conciliar teaching.’”[4] The last part of this sentence was a quotation from Pope Paul VI.[5]

We could say, then, that with promulgation of the Second Vatican Council as an infallible exercise of Magisterium, together with the canonization of St. Josemaria Escriva that this doctrine and spirit of achieving holiness in ordinary life by the giving of the self pertains to Revelation.

In this sense, we can say that Revelation increases and develops. Revelation has been totally given to us once and for all in the Person of Jesus Christ. The Person of Christ is the total and complete revelation of the Father as His Word. There can be no revelation beyond Him since He is God. But, as then-Josef Ratzinger commented, “Where there is no one to perceive `revelation,’ no re-vel-ation has occurred, because no veil has been removed. By definition, revelation requires a someone who apprehends it. These insights, gained through my reading of Bonaventure, were later on very important for me at the time of the conciliar discussion on revelation, Scripture, and tradition. Because, if Bonaventure is right, then revelation precedes Scripture and becomes deposited in Scripture but is not simply identical with it. This in turn means that revelation is always something greater than what is merely written down. And this again means that there can be no such thing as pure sola scriptura (`by Scripture alone’), because an essential element of Scripture is the Church as understanding subject, and with this the fundamental sense of tradition is already given.”[6]

And so, revelation will increase as the subjective experience and consciousness of Christ increases. It is in this sense that perhaps we could suggest that this spirit of Josemaria Escriva pertains to revelation due to his experience and consciousness of the Person of Christ, and should be shouted from the housetops without fear or diminution for everyone to put into practice.

[1] Robert Moynihan, Inside the Vatican November 2002, 16-19.
[2] “All those who knew Josemaria Escriva perceived that his person was inseparable from the mission for which God had chosen him. Having been able to form a particularly close and profound relationship with him for 40 years reinforces in my memory this characteristic dimension of his human and spiritual physiognomy. I have seen him, so to speak, in his `first act’ as founder, that is to say in the daily and continuous building of Opus Dei, and as a consequence of the Church, as he affirmed not in vain that the Work exists solely to serve the Church.
“The identification of this very self with his foundational activity implied that Mons. Escriva perfected himself as a subject;” L’Osservatore Romano, May 28, 1992, 6/7.
[3] Conversations with Monsignor Josemaria Escriva, Scepter #114.
[4] Letter March 1992, #3.
[5] Motu proprio `Sanctitas clarior,’ 19 March 1930, 2.
[6] Josef Ratzinger, Milestones Ignatius (1997) 108-109

Statement by President Trump on the Shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada: Repeated Reference to God

download (7)

Diplomatic Room

10:50 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans, we are joined together today in sadness, shock, and grief. Last night, a gunman opened fire on a large crowd at a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada. He brutally murdered more than 50 people, and wounded hundreds more. It was an act of pure evil.

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are working closely with local authorities to assist with the investigation, and they will provide updates as to the investigation and how it develops.

I want to thank the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and all of the first responders for their courageous efforts, and for helping to save the lives of so many. The speed with which they acted is miraculous, and prevented further loss of life. To have found the shooter so quickly after the first shots were fired is something for which we will always be thankful and grateful. It shows what true professionalism is all about.

Hundreds of our fellow citizens are now mourning the sudden loss of a loved one — a parent, a child, a brother or sister. We cannot fathom their pain. We cannot imagine their loss. To the families of the victims: We are praying for you and we are here for you, and we ask God to help see you through this very dark period.

Scripture teaches us, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” We seek comfort in those words, for we know that God lives in the hearts of those who grieve. To the wounded who are now recovering in hospitals, we are praying for your full and speedy recovery, and pledge to you our support from this day forward.

In memory of the fallen, I have directed that our great flag be flown at half-staff.

I will be visiting Las Vegas on Wednesday to meet with law enforcement, first responders, and the families of the victims.

In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one — and it always has. We call upon the bonds that unite us — our faith, our family, and our shared values. We call upon the bonds of citizenship, the ties of community, and the comfort of our common humanity.

Our unity cannot be shattered by evil. Our bonds cannot be broken by violence. And though we feel such great anger at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is our love that defines us today — and always will, forever.

In times such as these, I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness. The answers do not come easy. But we can take solace knowing that even the darkest space can be brightened by a single light, and even the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope.

Melania and I are praying for every American who has been hurt, wounded, or lost the ones they love so dearly in this terrible, terrible attack. We pray for the entire nation to find unity and peace. And we pray for the day when evil is banished, and the innocent are safe from hatred and from fear.

May God bless the souls of the lives that are lost. May God give us the grace of healing. And may God provide the grieving families with strength to carry on.

Thank you. God bless America. Thank you.

Poverty, Not As Virtue, But as Alienation: The State of Multitudes  

 

The Greatest Poverty is to be an “I” in a universe of “It’s” – i.e. ALONE

 

Walker Percy in chpt 1, “The Delta Factor” in Message in the Bottle.

“WHY DOES MAN feel so sad in the twentieth century?

Why does man feel so bad in the very age when, more than in any other age, he has succeeded in satisfying his needs and making over the world for his own use?

Why has man entered on an orgy of war, murder, torture, and self-destruction unparalleled in history and in the very century when he had hoped to see the dawn of universal peace and brotherhood?

Why do people often feel bad in good environments and good in bad environments?

Why do people often feel so bad in good environments that they prefer bad environments?

Why does a man often feel better in a bad environment?

Why is a man apt to feel bad in a good environment, say suburban Short Hills, New Jersey, on an ordinary Wednesday afternoon?

Why is the same man apt to feel good in a very bad environment, say an old hotel on Key Largo during a hurricane?

Why have more people been killed in the twentieth century than in all other centuries put together?

Why is war man’s greatest pleasure?

Why is man the only creature that wages war against its own species?

What would man do if war were outlawed?

Why is it that the only time I ever saw my uncle happy during his entire life was the afternoon of December 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor?

* * * *

Why is it that a man riding a good commuter train from Larchmont to New York, whose needs and drives are satisfied, who has a good home, loving wife and family, good job, who enjoys unprecedented ‘cultural and recreational facilities,’ often feels bad without knowing why?

Why is it that if such a man suffers a heart attack and, taken off the train at New Rochelle, regains consciousness and finds himself in a strange place, he then comes to himself for the first time in years, perhaps in his life, and begins to gaze at his own hand with a sense of wonder and delight?

What is the difference between such a man, a commuter who feels bad without knowing why, and another commuter who feels bad without knowing why but who begins to read a book about man who feels bad without knowing why?

Why does it make a man feel better to read a book about a man like himself felling bad?

Why was it that Jean-Paul Sartre, sitting in a French café and writing Nausea, which is about the absurdity of human existence and the nausea of life in the twentieth century – why was he the happiest man in France at the time?

Why is it harder to study a dogfish on a dissecting board in a zoological laboratory in college where one has proper instruments and a proper light than it would be if one were marooned on an island and, having come upon a dogfish on the beach and having no better instrument than a pocketknife or bobby pin, one began to explore the dogfish?

Why is it difficult to see a painting in a museum but not if someone should take you by the hand and say, ‘I have something to show you in my house,’ and lead you through a passageway and upstairs into the attic and there show the painting to you?

What would you do if a stranger came up to you on a New York street and, before disappearing into the crowd, gave you a note which read: ‘I know your predicament: it is such and such. Be at the southeast corner of Lindell Boulevard and Kingshighway in St. Louis at 9 a.m., April 16 – I have news of the greatest importance?’”[1]

What Walker Percy is presenting the above is what has been called “alienation” which is “The estrangement of the existing self,”[ and this precisely because we have staked everything “on the objective-empirical.” He points out that “It does happen that the Dasein or existing self characteristically reverses objective-empirical sociological categories and discovers in them not the principle of its health but the root of its alienation.” What he means is that everything in the world of sense has been explained – except me, the explainer. My subjectivity has been left out as the other side of the St. Andreas fault line of the Enlightenment dualism and dismissed.

The suffering of it is unspeakable since the meaning of everything that is perceived through sensation is embedded in the context of the experience and consciousness of who I am. And since I am left alone and presumed to be happy because I have every sensible empirical need satisfied, my “I,” which has been revealed to be intrinsically and constitutively relational as imaging the Trinitarian God, withers into non-existence. This is the suffering of always, but particularly of the present moment.

 

Blogger: The precise answer is the experience of becoming Christ in the act of living faith where one goes out of self to the peripheries in the service of others! It is the turn to self that alienates oneself from self, and this because it is the ontological “structure” of the Godhead.

One more scene of Percy occurs to me. Let’s call it “Alone Together” (stolen from Sherry Turckle. It’s Thanksgiving dinner in which we are all happily together but each one is satiated and unto self. Percy mentions the Norman Rockwell painting known to all Americans:

download (6)

Percy:

“Ha, there is a secret after all, he said. But to know the secret answer, you must first know the secret question. The question is, who is the enemy?

Not to know the name of the enemy is already to have been killed by him.

Ha, he said, dancing, snapping his fingers and laughing and hooting ha hoo hee, jumping up and down and socking himself, but I do know. I know. I know the name of the enemy.

“The name of the enemy is death, he said, grinning and shoving his hands in his pockets. Not the death of dying but the living death.

“The name of this century is the Century of the Love of Death. Death in this century is the Century of the Love of Death. Death in this century is not the death people die but the death people live. Men love death because real death is better than the living death. That’s why men like wars, of course. Bad as wars are and maybe because they are so bad, thinking of peace during wars is better than peace. War is what makes peace desirable. But peace without war is intolerable. Why do men settle so easily for lives which are living deaths? Men either kill each other in war, or in peace walk as docilely into living death as sheep into a slaughterhouse.

Why do men walk like sheep straight into the slaughterhouse? Why are people content to stand helpless while their lifeblood is drained away?

Men in this century are no different from the Jews at Buchenwald who did not give themselves leave to resist death.

I know your name at last, he said, laughing and hooting hee hee hoooooee like a pig-caller and kicking the tires, and you are not going to prevail over me.

Old father of lies, that’s what you are, the devil himself, for only the devil could have thought up all the deceits and guises under which death masquerades. But I know all your names.

Death in the guise of love shall not prevail over me. You, old father old mole, loved me but loved death better and in the name of love sought death for both of us. You only kissed me once and it was the kiss of death. True, death is a way out of a life-which-is-a-living-death. War and shooting is better than such a peace. But what if there is life

Everybody has given up. Everybody thinks that there are only two things: war which is a kind of life in death, and peace which is a kind of death in life. But what if there should be a third thing, life”

Death in the guise of Christianity is not going to prevail over me. If Christ brought life, why do the churches smell of death?

Death in the guise of old Christendom in Carolina is not going to prevail over me. The old churches are houses of death.

Death in the form of the new Christendom in Carolina is not going to prevail over me. If the born-again are the twice born, I’m holding out for a third go-round.

Death in the guise of God and America and the happy life of home and family and friends is not going to prevail over me. America is in fact almost as dead as Europe. It might still be possible to live in America, said the nutty American dancing in place in old Carolina.

Death in the guise of belief is not going to prevail over me, for believers now believe anything and everything and do not love the truth, are in fact in despair of the truth, and that is death.

Death in the guise of unbelief is not going to prevail over me, for unbelievers believe nothing, not because truth does not exist, but because they have already chosen not to believe, and would not believe, cannot believe, even if the living truth goes before them, and that is death.

Death in the guise of the new life in California is not going to prevail over me. Marin County and the Cupps are not going to prevail over me. But what if the Cupps and Marin County should prevail? Then the Germans and my father are right and war is better than peace, true death better than the living death. But it will not prevail over me because I know the names of death.

Death in the form of isms and asms shall not prevail over me, orgasm, enthusiasm, liberalism, conservatism, Communism, Buddhism, Americanism, for an ism is only another way of despairing of the truth.

Death in the guise of marriage and family and children is not going to prevail over me. What happened to marriage and family that it should have become a travail and a sadness, marriage till death do us part yes but long dead before the parting, home and fireside and kiddies such a travail and a deadliness as to make a man run out into the night with his hands over his head? Show me the Norman Rockwell picture of the American family at Thanksgiving dinner and I’ll show you the first faint outline of the death’s-head.

God may be good, family and marriage and children and home may be good, and grandma and grandpa may act wise, the Thanksgiving table may be groaning with God’s goodness and bounty, all the folks healthy and happy, but something is missing. What is this sadness here? Why do the folks put up with it? The truth seeker does not. Instead of joining hands with the folks and bowing his head in prayer, the truth seeker sits in an empty chair as invisible as Banquo’s ghost, yelling at the top of his voice: Where is it? What is missing? Where did it go? I won’t have it! Get up! Leave! Let the boat people sit down! Go live in a cave until you’ve found the thief who is robbing you. But at least protest. Stop, thief! What is missing? God? Find him!…”[1]

 

[1] Walker Percy, “The Second Coming” Ivy Books, New York (1980) 245-248.

 

 [1] Walker Percy, “The Message in the Bottle,” The Noonday Press, Farrar, Straus, Giroux (1976) 3-6.
[2] Walker Percy, “The Man on the Train,” Idem 84-85.

[Going Through Papers] An Invitation to Study Rene Girard (below) Which I Have Not Done… But Will (hopefully)…

download (5)

Blogger: Looking for Answers to Islam:

“What Is Occurring Today Is a Mimetic Rivalry on a Planetary Scale.”

An Interview by Henri Tincq,

LE MONDENovember6, 2001
Translated for COV&R by Jim Williams

Can your theory of “mimetic rivalry” be applied to the current international crisis?

The error is always to reason within categories of “difference” when the root of all conflicts is rather “competition,” mimetic rivalry between persons, countries, cultures. Competition is the desire to imitate the other in order to obtain the same thing he or she has, by violence if need be. No doubt terrorism is bound to a world “different” from ours, but what gives rise to terrorism does not lie in that “difference” that removes it further from us and makes it inconceivable to us. To the contrary, it lies in an exacerbated desire for convergence and resemblance. Human relations are essentially relations of imitation, of rivalry.
What is experienced now is a form of mimetic rivalry on a planetary scale. When I read the first documents of Bin Laden and verified his allusions to the American bombing of Japan, I felt at first that I was in a dimension that transcends Islam, a dimension of the entire planet. Under the label of Islam we find a will to rally and mobilize an entire third world of those frustrated and  of victims in their relations of mimetic rivalry with the West. But the towers destroyed had as many foreigners as Americans. By their effectiveness, by the sophistication of the means employed, by the knowledge that they had of the United States, by their training, were not the authors of the attack at least somewhat American? Here we are in the middle of mimetic contagion.

 

“Far from turning away from the West,” you write in your latest book,*”they cannot avoid imitating it and adopting its values, even if they don’t avow it, and they are also consumed like us by the desire for individual and collective success.”  Should we understand then that the “enemies” of the West make the United States the model of their aspirations, even while feeling the need to slay it?

This sentiment is not true of the masses, but of the ruling classes. At the level of personal fortune a man like Bin Laden has nothing to envy of anyone. And how many party or faction leaders are in this intermediary situation, identical to his. Look at a Mirabeau at the beginning of the French Revolution: he has one foot in one camp and one foot in the other, and what did he do but live out his resentment in even more bitter fashion. In the US some immigrants become integrated easily, while others, even if their success is dazzling, live in a permanent anguish and resentment. This is because they hark back to their childhood, to frustrations and humiliations inherited from the past. This is particularly true of the Muslims, who have traditions of pride and a style of individual relations closer to feudalism.

 

But the Americans must have been the least astonished by what happened, since they live constantly in rivalistic relations.

America indeed embodies these mimetic relations of rivalry. The ideology of free enterprise makes of them an absolute solution. Effective, but explosive. These competitive relations are excellent if you come out of it as the winner, but if the winners are always the same then, one day or the other, the losers overturn the game table. This mimetic rivalry, when it turns out badly, always results eventually in some form of violence. In this regard, it’s Islam that now provides the cement that we formerly found in Marxism. “We will bury you,” Khrushchev said to the Americans. ..Bin Laden, is more troubling than Marxism, in which we recognize a concept of material well-being,  prosperity, and an ideal of success not so far removed from what is lived out in the West.

 

What do you think of the fascination for sacrifice of the kamikazes of Islam? If Christianity is the sacrifice of the innocent victim, would you go as far to say that Islam is the permission to offer sacrifice and Islam is a sacrificial religion, in which one finds also that notion of “model” which is at the heart of your mimetic theory?

Islam maintains a relation to death that convinces me that this religion has nothing to do with archaic myths. A relation to death that, from a certain point of view, is more positive than what we observe in Christianity. I think of the agony of Christ: “My God, why have you abandoned me?” And: “May this cup be removed from me.” The mystical relation of Islam with death makes it even more mysterious to us. At first, Americans took these Muslim kamikazes for “cowards,” but, very quickly, they began to see them differently. The mystery of their suicide thickens the mystery of their terrorist act.
Yes, Islam is a religion of sacrifice in which we find also the theory of mimetic rivalry and the model. The candidates for the act of suicide are not lacking when terrorism seems to fail. Imagine, then, what is happening now when – if I dare say – it has succeeded. It is evident that in the Muslim world, the kamikaze terrorists embody models of saintliness.

 

The martyrs of faith in Christ are also, according to the Church Fathers, the “seeds” ofChristianity…

Yes, but in Christianity the martyr does not die in order to be copied. The Christian can be moved to pity over him, but he does not desire to die like him. He is suspicious of it, even. The martyr is for Christians a model to accompany them but not a model for throwing oneself into the fire with him. In Islam it’s different. You die as a martyr in order to be copied and thus manifest a project of transforming the world politically. Applied to the beginning of the 21st century, a model like this leaves me aghast. Does it really belong to Islam? One refers often to the sect of the “assassins” of the Middle Ages who killed themselves after having inflicted death on the infidels, but I am not able to understand this act, still less to analyse it. It must only be verified.

 

Would you go so far as to say that the dominant figure of Islam is the warrior and in Christianity it is the innocent victim, and that this irreducible difference condemns any attempt at understanding between these two monotheisms?

What strikes me in the history of Islam is the rapidity of its expansion. It was the most extraordinary military conquest of all times. The barbarians dissolved into the societies they had conquered, but Islam did not and it converted two‑thirds of the Mediterranean world. It is not therefore an archaic myth as has been said. I would even go so far as to say that it is a resumption – rationalist, from certain points of view – of what happened in Christianity, a sort of Protestantism before its time. In the Muslim faith, there is an aspect that is simple, raw, and practical that has facilitated its spread and transformed the life of a great number of peoples in a tribal state in opening them to Jewish monotheism as modified by Christianity. But it lacks the essential thing in Christianity: the cross. Like Christianity, Islam rehabilitates the innocent victim, but it does this in a militant manner. The cross is the contrary, it is the end of the violent and archaic myths.

 

But aren’t the monotheisms the bearers of a structural violence because they gave birth to an idea of unique Truth, excluding any competing expression?

One can always interpret the monotheisms as sacrificial archaisms, but the texts don’t prove that they are such. It’s said that the Psalms of the Bible are violent, but who speak up in the psalms if not the victims of the violence of the myths: “The bulls of Balaam encircle me and are about to lynch me”? The Psalms are like a magnificent lining on the outside, but when turned inside out they show a bloody skin. They are typical of the violence that weighs on humans and on the refuge that they find in their God.
Our intellectual fashions don’t want to see anything but violence in these texts, but where does the danger really come from? Today, we live in a dangerous world where all the  mob movements  are violent. This crowd or mob was already violent in the Psalms. Likewise in the story of Job. It – the “friends” – demanded of Job to acknowledge his guilt; they put him through a real Moscow trial.  His is a prophetic trial. Is it not that of Christ, adulated by the crowds, then rejected at the moment of his Passion? These narratives announce the cross, the death of the innocent victim, the victory over all the sacrificial myths of antiquity.
Is it so different in Islam? Islam has also formidable prophetic insights about the relation between the crowd, the myths, victims, and sacrifice.  In the Muslim tradition, the ram Abel sacrificed is the same as the one God sent to Abraham so that he could spare his son. Because Abel sacrificed rams, he did not kill his brother. Because Cain did not sacrifice animals, he killed his brother. In other words, the sacrificial animal avoids the murder of the brother and the son. That is, it furnishes an outlet for violence.  Thus Mohammed had insights which are on the plane of certain great Jewish prophets, but at the same time we find a concern for antagonism and separation from Judaism and Christianity that may negate our interpretation.

 

You dwell in your latest book on Western self-criticism, always present beside ethnocentrism. You write, “We Occidentals are always simultaneously ourselves and our own enemy.” Will this self-criticism continue to exist after the destruction of the towers?

It continues to exist and it is legitimate for rethinking the future, for correcting, for example, that idea of a Locke or of an Adam Smith according to which free competition would always be good and generous. That’s an absurd idea, and we have known it for a long time. It is astonishing that after a failure as flagrant as that of Marxism the ideology of free enterprise doesn’t show itself any more able to defend itself. To affirm that “history is finished” because this ideology has won out over collectivism is quite clearly a deception.  In the Western countries the  divergence in incomes continues to grow greatly and we are heading for explosive reactions. I’m not talking about the third world. What we await after the attacks is of course a renewed ideology, a more rational one  of liberalism and progress.