Ratzinger: Experiencing the Personal Absolute Within the Contingency of Ordinary Life


  1) Toronto 1986: The act of faith in St. Paul: (Gal. 2, 20): “He first present the external events surrounding his vocation and the subsequent direction of his life. Finally, however, this one phrase, like a sudden bolt of lightning, reveals in it light the inner event which took place in those outer events and which lies at their very foundation. This inner event is at the one and the same time wholly personal and wholly objective. It is an individual experience in the highest degree, yet it declares what the essence of Christianity is for everyone. To explain it as meaning that becoming and being a Christian rest on conversion would still be much too weak a way of putting things. This is not to deny that such an interpretation is indeed aiming in the right direction, but the point is that conversion in the Pauline sense is something much more radical than, say, the revision of a few opinions and attitudes. It is a death-event (my bold). In other words, it is an exchange of the old subject standing in itself. It is snatched away from itself and fitted into a new subject. The ‘I’ is not simply submerged, but it must really release its grip on itself in order then to receive itself anew in and together with a greater ‘I.’
   In the Letter to the Galatians, the fundamental intuition about the nature of conversion – that it is the surrender of the old isolated subjectivity of the ‘I’ in order to find oneself within the unity of a new subject, which bursts the limits of the ‘I,’ thus making possible contact with the ground of all reality. .. Paul, with the help of the antithesis between the law and the promise, is pursuing the question whether man can, as it were, create himself on his own or whether he must receive himself as a gift. While doing so, he emphasizes quite vigorously that the promise was issued only in the singular. It is intended not for a mass of juxtaposed subjects, but to ‘the offspring of Abraham’ in the singular (Gal. 3. 16). There is only one bearer of the promise, outside of which is the chaotic world of self-realization where men compete with one another and desire to compete with God but succeed merely in working right past their true hope… ‘For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is not longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise (Gal. 3, 27 – 29). Ir is important to take notice of the fact that Paul does not say, ‘You are one thing,’ but one man.’ You have become a new singular subject together with Christ and i, in consequent – through the amalgamation of subject – find yourselves within the purview of the promise.” (J.Ratzinger, “The Spiritual Basis and Ecclesial Identity of Theology” in The Nature and Mission of Theology, Ignatius (1995) 50-52.
In the light of the above, consider: scripture and tradition are not “Revelation” but only the Person of Christ – He has to be received in an experience: Ratzinger: “Here, ‘revelation’ is always a concept denoting an act. The word refers to the act in which God shows himself, not to the objectified result of this act (which is SS and Tradition) Because this is so, the receiving subject is always also a part of the concept of ‘revelation.’ Where there is no one to perceive ‘revelation,’; no re-vel-ation has occurred, because  no veil has been removed.” (J. Ratzinger, “Milestones…” p. 108.
I have two more but I’m too tired: 1) “What Does the Church Believe?” in The Catholic World Report, March 1993,  pp. 26 – 28, 58-59.; 2) “And Marxism Gave Birth to …. Nihilism.” CWR January 1993 pp. 52- 55.

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