Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ministers: God's Architects

In this Year of Saint Paul and yesterday being the feast of the dediction of the Basilicas of Saint Peter and Saint Paul I should like to share this quote I recently read in Saint Thomas Aquinas' Commentary on 1 Corinthians in which Ministers are compared to architects, who should take the greatest care in quality building, to make the work meaningful, worthy and enduring. Enjoy!

Architectural Analogy of Ministry: Quality Building Upon Christ

1 Cor 3:8b-15 From Saint Thomas Aquinas Commentary on 1 Corinthians (

8bAnd each shall receive his wages according to his labor. 9For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. 10According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. 11For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

139. – After describing the status of God’s ministers, the Apostle now discusses their reward. First, he discusses the reward of good ministers; secondly, the punishment of evil ones (v. 16). In regard to the first he does three things: first, he mentions the reward reserved for ministers; secondly, he assigns the reason (v. 9); thirdly, the variety of rewards (v. 10).
140. – He says, therefore: I have said that neither he that plants is anything nor he that waters; nevertheless, he does not plant or water in vain, but each man will receive his wages, according to his own labor. For although God alone gives the increase and he alone works from within, He gives a reward to those that labor outwardly: “Let your voice cease from weeping, and your eyes from tears: for there is a reward for your work” (Jer 31:16); this reward is God Himself: I am your protector and your reward exceeding great” (Gen 15:1). It is for this reward that the laborers are praised: “How many hired servants in my father’s house abound with bread!” (Lk 15:17). On the other hand, if he works for any other reward, he is not worthy of praise: “But the hireling, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep” (Jn. 10:12).
141. – But this reward is both common to all and peculiar to each: It is common, because what they all see and enjoy is the same God: “Then shall you abound in delights in Almighty, and you shall lift up your face to God” (Jb 22:26); “In that day the Lord of hosts shall be a crown of glory, and a garland of joy to the residue of his people” (Is 28:5). This is why in Matt (c. 20) all the laborers in the vineyard receive one penny.
But the reward will be peculiar to each, because one sees more clearly and enjoys more fully than another according to the measure established for all eternity.” This is why it says in Jn (14:2): “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” For the same reason he says here: each shall receive his wages.
142. – But he indicates the basis for the various rewards when he adds: according to his own labor: “You shall eat the labors of you hands; blessed are you and it shall be well with you” (Ps 128:2).
But this does not mean an equal amount of reward for a corresponding amount of labor, because as it says in 2 Cor (4:17): “For that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulations, works for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory”; rather, it means a proportional equality, so that where the labor is greater the reward is greater.
143. – Now there are three ways in which the labor can be considered greater: first, by reason of charity, to which the essential aspect of the reward corresponds, i.e., the enjoyment and sight of God; hence it says in Jn (14:21): “He that loves me will be loved of my Father; and I will love him and will manifest myself to him.” Consequently, one who labors with greater love, even though he endures less difficulties, will receive more of the essential reward.
Secondly, by reason of the type of work: for just as in human enterprises a person gets a higher wage for a higher type of work, as the architect gets more than the manual laborer, although he does less bodily work, so too in divine matters; a person occupied in a nobler work will receive a greater reward consisting in some special prerogative of the accidental reward, even though he might perhaps have done less bodily labor; hence a special crown is given to teachers, to virgins and to martyrs.
Thirdly, by reason of the amount of labor, which happens in two ways: for sometimes a greater labor deserves a greater reward, especially in regard to lightening punishment; as when a person fasts longer or undertakes a longer pilgrimage: and even in regard to the joy he will experience for the greater labor: “He renders to the just the wages of their labors” (Wis 10:17). But sometimes there is greater labor because of a lack of will; for in things we do of our own will, we experience less labor. In this case the amount of labor will not increase but lessen the reward; hence Is (40:31) says: “They shall take wings as eagles: they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint”; but prior to this he said (1:30): “Youths shall faint and labor.”
144. – Then when he says, You are God’s, he assigns the reason for what he had said: first, he gives the reason; secondly, he applies a simile (v. 9).
145. – He says, therefore: It is only right that each of us shall receive a reward, for we are fellow workers for God, namely, by their labors.
But his seems to be contradicted by Jb (26:2): “Whose helper are you? Is it of him that is weak?” And by Ps 40 (v. 3): “Who has helped the Spirit of the Lord?”
The answer is that one helps another in two ways: in one way by increasing his strength. In this way no one can be God’s helper; hence after the above Job continues, “and do you hold up the arm of him that has no strength?” The other way is by serving in another’s work, as when a minister is called a master’s helper or an artisan’s helper, inasmuch as he does some work for him. In this way God’s ministers are His coadjutors, as 2 Cor (6:1) says: “And we helping do exhort you.” Therefore, just as men’s ministers receive a reward from them according to their labor, so, too, God’ minister.
146. – Secondly, he makes use of a simile referring to simple works, namely, agriculture and building. For the faithful are a field cultivated by God, inasmuch as through God’s action they produce the fruit of good works acceptable to God: “That you may belong to another, who is risen again from the dead, that we may bring forth fruit to God” (Rom 7:4); and in Jn (15:1) it says: “My Father is the husbandman.”
And this is what he says first: You are God’s field, i.e., like a field cultivated by God and bearing His fruit. The faithful are also like a house built by God, inasmuch as God lives in them: “You also are built together into a habitation of God in the Spirit” (Eph 2:22).
Therefore, he continues: you are God’s building, i.e., an edifice constructed by God: “Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Ps 127:1). In these, ways, then, God’s ministers are coadjutors, inasmuch as they labor in cultivating and guiding the faithful.
147. – Then when he says, according to the commission of God, he discusses the varieties of reward; and because rewards are distinguished according to the varieties of labor. First he deals with the varieties of labor; secondly with the diverse reward (v. 12). In regard to the first he does two things: First, he distinguishes the varieties of labor; secondly, he sounds a warning (v. 10).
148. – In regard to the first he does two things: first, abandoning the simile based on agriculture, he describes his own labor under the likeness of a building, saying: according to the commission of God given to me, as a wise architect, I have laid a foundation.
Here it should be noted that an architect, especially of a building, is called the chief artisan, inasmuch as it is his duty to comprehend the entire arrangement of the whole work, which is brought to completion by the activities of the manual laborers. Consequently, he is called wise in building, because he considers the principal cause of the building, i.e., its end and arranges what is to be done by the subordinate artisans to realize the end.
Now it is obvious that the entire structure of a building depends on the foundation; consequently, it pertains to a wise architect to lay a solid foundation. But Paul himself laid the foundation of the spiritual edifice for the Corinthians; hence he said above, “I have planted,” for planting is related to plants as the foundations to buildings, because both signify expressly the first preaching of the faith: “I have preached this gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation” (Rom 15:20). This is why he compares himself to a wise architect.
But he attributes this not to his own power but to God’s grace; which is what he says: according to the grace of God given to me, Who made me fit and worthy for this ministry: “I have labored more abundantly than all they; yet not I but the grace of God with me” (1 Cor 15:10).
149. – Secondly, he describes others’ labors, saying: and another man, i.e., whoever labors among you, is building on the foundation laid by me.
This can be done in two ways: in one way so that each person builds on the faith produced in him by growing in charity and good works: “Be you also as living stone built up” (1 Pet 2:5). In another way by doctrine, whereby one explains more clearly the faith produced in others: “To build and to plant” (Jer 1:10). In this interpretation the building up signifies the same thing as watering signified.
150. – Then when he says, let everyone take care, he gives a warning, saying: I have said that it pertains to others to build on the foundation: but let everyone take care, i.e., pay careful attention to how he builds upon it, i.e., what sort of doctrine he adds to the faith already existing in others or what sort of works to the faith existing in himself: “Let your eyes look straight on, and let your eyelids go before your steps” (Pr 4:25).
151. – Secondly, he answers a tacit question: why he warns them about the superstructure and not the foundations; or rather, he states the reason why he said that the task of others is to build on the foundation. He says: for no other foundation can any man lay, but what which is laid, which is Christ Jesus, Who dwells in your heart by faith: of the foundation it is said (Is 28:16): “Behold, I will lay a stone in the foundations of Sion, a tried stone, a corner stone, a precious stone, founded in the foundation.”
152. – On the other hand it seems that Christ is not the sole foundation, because it says in Rev (21:14): “The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the twelve names of the twelve apostles.”
The answer is that there are two kinds of foundations: one is solid of itself, such as the rock on which the building is constructed. This is the foundation to which Christ is compared; for He is the rock mentioned in Matt (7:25): “For it was founded on a rock.” The other is the foundation, which is not solid of itself but rests on a solid object, as the stones placed on solid rock. This is the way the apostles are called the foundation of the Church, because they were the first to be built on Christ by faith and charity: “Built on the foundation of the apostles” (Eph 2:20).
153. – Then when he says, Now if any man builds, he discusses the variety of rewards accordingly as some receive a wage without any less and some with a loss. In regard to the first he does three things: first, he teaches that a variety of works is revealed by the wages; secondly, when this is revealed (v. 13); thirdly, how it is revealed (v. 14).
154. – As to the first it should be noted that the Apostle, in order to point out the varieties of superstructures, mentions six things, i.e., three against three: on the one hand, gold, silver and precious stones; on the other hand, wood, hay and stubble. The first three have a striking brilliance, as well as being indestructible and precious; but the other three are, easily consumed by fire and worthless. Hence by gold, silver and precious stone are understood something brilliant and lasting; but by wood, hay and stubble something material and transitory.
Now he stated above that the superstructure can refer either to the works everyone builds on the foundation of faith or to the doctrine which a teacher or preacher builds on the foundation of faith laid by an apostle. Hence, the variety the Apostle mentions here can refer to both superstructures.
155. – Therefore, some, referring this to the superstructure of works, have said the gold, silver and precious stones mean the good works a person adds to his faith; but wood, hay and stubble mean the mortal sins a person commits after receiving the faith.
However, this interpretation cannot stand: first, because mortal sins are dead works: “He will cleanse our consciences from dead works” (Heb 9:14), whereas only living works are built onto this building: “Be you also as living stone built up” (1 Pt 2:5). Consequently, those who have mortal sins along with faith do not build up, but rather destroy or profane. Against such persons he says: “But if anyone destroys God’s temple” (1 Cor 3:17).
Secondly, because mortal sins are better compared to iron or lead or stone, since they are heavy and not destroyed by fire but always remain in the thing in which they exist; whereas venial sins are compared to wood, hay and stubble, because they are light and easily cleansed from a person by fire.
Thirdly, because it seems to follow from this interpretation that a person who dies in mortal sin, as long as he keeps the faith, will finally attain to salvation after undergoing punishment. For he continues: If any man’s work is burned up he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire, which is obviously contrary to the Apostle’s statement below (6:9): “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals….shall posses the kingdom of God”, and to Gal (5:21): “Those who do such things shall not possess the kingdom of God.” But one possesses salvation only in the kingdom of God; for everyone excluded from it is sent into eternal fire, as it says in Matt (25:41).
Fourthly, because faith can be called a foundation, only because by it Christ dwells in us, since it was stated that the foundation is Christ Jesus Himself. For Christ does not dwell in us by unformed faith; otherwise He would dwell in the devils, of whom Jas (2:19) says: “The devils believe and tremble.” Hence Eph (3:17) says: “that Christ by faith may dwell in your hearts.” This should be understood of faith informed by charity, since 1 Jn (4:16) says: “He that abides in love abides in God and God in him.” This is the faith that works through love, as it says below (13:4): “Love is not arrogant or rude.” Consequently, it is obvious that persons who commit mortal sins do not have formed faith, and so do not have the foundation. Therefore, it is necessary to suppose that the person who builds upon the foundation gold, silver and precious stones, as well as one who builds upon it wood, hay, stubble, avoids mortal sin.
156. – Therefore to understand the difference between these two sets of things, it should be noted that human acts are characterized by their objects.
But there are two objects of a human act: a spiritual thing and a bodily thing. Now these objects differ in three ways: first, spiritual things last forever, but bodily things pass away; hence it says in 2 Cor (4:18): “The things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” Secondly, spiritual things are brilliant in themselves: “Wisdom is glorious and never fades away” (Wis 6:13), but bodily things on account of their matter are dingy: “Our time is as the passing of a shadow” (Wis 2:5). Thirdly, spiritual are more precious and nobler than bodily things: “Wisdom is more precious than all riches” (Pr 3:15); “All gold in comparison of her, is as a little sand: and silver in comparison to her shall be counted as clay” (Wis 7:9).
Therefore, the works that engage a person in spiritual and divine things are compared to gold, silver and precious stones. By gold are signified those by which a man tends to God Himself by contemplation and love. Hence it says in S. of S. (5:11): “His head is as the finest gold”: for the head of Christ is God, and the gold is that mentioned in Rev (3:18): “Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold tried by fire”, i.e., wisdom with charity. By silver are signified those acts by which a man clings to spiritual things to believe, love and contemplate them; hence in a Gloss the silver is referred to love of neighbor, and in Ps 68 (v. 13) the wings of a dove are described as covered with silver and its pinions with green gold. But precious stones signify the works of the various virtues with which the soul is adorned; hence it says in Sirach (50:9): “Like a vessel of hammered gold adorned with all kinds of precious stones,” or they signify the commandments of God’s law: “Therefore I love thy commandments above gold, above fine gold” (Ps 119: 127).
But the human acts by which a person aims at acquiring bodily things are compared to tinder, which is worthless; for although it has a sheen, it burns easily. Yet there are various kinds, some of which are stronger than others are some are more easily burned. For among bodily creatures men are the more noble and conserved by succession; hence they are compared to wood: “The trees once went forth to anoint a king over them” (Jg 9:8). But man’s flesh is easily destroyed by sickness and death; hence he is compared to grass: “All flesh is grass” (Is 49:6). Again, the things which contribute to the glory of this world quickly pass away; hence they are compared to stubble: “O my God, make them like a tumbleweed, like chaff before the wind” (Ps 83:13).
157. – And so when one builds thereon gold and silver and precious stones, he builds upon the foundation of faith those things which pertain to contemplating the wisdom of divine matters, to loving God, to performing devout exercises, to helping his neighbor and performing virtuous works.
But to build upon it wood, hay and stubble is to erect on the foundation of faith things which pertain to arranging human affairs, to caring for the flesh and for outward glory.
158. – However, it should be noted that there are three possible attitudes, when a person intends these latter things: first, he might make them an end. Since this would be a mortal sin, a person with such an attitude would not be building upon the foundation by laying another foundation: for the end is the foundation for the desirable things sought for its sake.
Secondly, a person might tend toward these things, directing them entirely to the glory of God; and because they are qualified by the end one intends, a person with such as attitude will not be building wood, hay and straw on the foundation but gold and silver and precious stones.
Thirdly, a person could have the attitude that although he is not making these things an end or would act contrary to God for their sake, nevertheless he is drawn toward them more than he ought, so that he is kept back from the things of God by them; which is to sin venially. And this is what is meant by building wood, hay and stubble on the foundation; not because they are, properly speaking, erected on the foundation, but because acts of caring about temporal things have venial sins attached to them due to a stronger attachment to them. This attachment is compared to wood, hay or stubble, depending on how strong it is.
159. – Yet is should be kept in mind that those who tend after spiritual things cannot be altogether freed from caring for temporal things, any more than those who tend after temporal things from a duty of charity are altogether free from tending toward spiritual things. The difference is one of emphasis: for some emphasize spiritual things and make no provision for temporal things, except as the needs of bodily life require; others place the emphasis in their lives on procuring temporal things, but use spiritual things to direct their life. The first group, therefore, builds gold, silver and precious stones; but the second hay, wood and stubble on the foundation. From this it is clear that the former have some venials but not a notable amount, because they are only slightly concerned with the care of temporal things; but the latter have something stable, precious and brilliant, but only a small amount, namely, to the extent that they are directed by spiritual considerations.
160. – They can also be differentiated on the basis of doctrine. For some, by teaching sound, true and clear doctrine, erect gold, silver and precious stones upon the foundation of faith laid by the apostles; hence it says in Pr (10:20): “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver.” On the other hand, those who add to the faith laid down by the apostles doctrines that are useless, unclear or not supported by true reasons, but vain and empty, erect wood, hay and stubble, hence Jer (23:28): “Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? Says the Lord.” Finally those who teach falsehood do not build on the foundation but subvert it.
161. – He says, therefore: If any man builds by his works or teachings on this foundation, i.e., upon the formed faith in his heart or upon the faith founded and taught by the apostles, gold, silver or precious stones, i.e., spiritual works or sound, clear teachings, or wood, hay stubble, i.e., corporal works or silly teachings, each man’s work will become manifest, i.e., its quality will be made known in the divine judgment: for man’s ignorance of it will not keep it hidden forever. For some appear to be erecting woods, hay and stubble by looking for temporal benefits, such as profit or human favor, from spiritual things. Others, however, seem to be erecting wood, hay and stubble, but are really erecting gold, silver and precious stones, because in administering temporal things they have their eye on spiritual things alone. Hence it says in Zeph (1:12): “I will search Jerusalem with lamps” and in Lk (12:2): “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed.”
162. – Then when he says, for the day for the Lord, he shows when these things will be disclosed. Here it should be noted that the time and day of a thing is said to be present when it exists in its best state and in the fullness of its power. This is the sense in which “all things have their season” (Ec 3:1). Therefore, when a man is fulfilling his will even contrary to God, it is man’s day. In this sense Jer (17:16): “Thou knowest that I have not desired the day of man.” But it is the day of the Lord, when His will is accomplished in regard to men, who are rewarded or punished according to His justice: “At the set time which I appoint I will judge with equity” (Ps 73:2). Hence the day of the Lord can be take in three senses, depending on the three times the Lord will judge.
163. – For there will be a general judgment of all man, as it says in Matt (12:41): “The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment.” In this sense the day of the Lord will be the last day—judgment day—alluded to in 2 Th (2:2): “Be not terrified as if the day of the Lord were at hand.” This is the interpretation of the statement that the day of the Lord shall disclose it, because on the day of judgment the differences among men’s merits will be disclosed: “On that day when God judges the secrets of men by Jesus Christ” (Rom 2:16).
Another is the particular judgment, which takes place for each person at his death. Lk (16:22) says of this judgment: “The rich man died and was buried in hell; and the poor man also died and was carried to Abraham’s bosom.” In this sense the day of the Lord refers to the day of death, as in 1 Th (5:2): “The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” The day of the Lord will disclose it at that time, because every man’s merits will be plain at his death. Hence it says in Pr (11:7): “When the wicked dies, his hope perishes” and in (14:32): “The righteous man has hope when he dies.”
The third judgment takes place in this life, inasmuch as God sometimes proves a man by the tribulations of this life; hence it says below (11:32): “When we are judged by the Lord, we are chastened so that we may not be condemned along with the world.” In this sense temporal tribulations are called the day of the Lord: “The sound of the day of the Lord is bitter, the mighty man cries aloud there” (Zeph 1:14). Therefore, the day of the Lord shall disclose, because during the time of tribulation a man’s affections are tested: “The kiln tests the potter’s vessels; so the trial of affliction just men” (Sir 27:5).
164. – Secondly, he shows the means by which it will be disclosed, namely, by fire; hence he continues: because it shall be revealed with fire, namely, the day of the Lord: for the day of judgment will be revealed in the fire which will precede the face of the judge, burning the face of the world, enveloping the wicked and cleansing the just. Ps 96 (v. 3) says of this: “Fire goes before him, and burns up his adversaries round about.” But the day of the Lord which occurs at death will be revealed in the fire of purgatory, by which the elect will be cleansed, if any require cleansing: Job (23:10) can be interpreted as referring to this fire: “When he has tried me, I shall come forth as god.” Finally, the day of the Lord, which is the day of tribulation permitted by God’s judgment, will be revealed in the fire of tribulation: “For gold is tested in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation” (Sir 2:5).
165. – Thirdly, he mentions the effect of the disclosure when he says, and the fire will test what sort of work each man has done, namely, because each of these fires will prove a man’s merits or demerits: “If thou testest me, thou wilt find no wickedness in me” (Ps 17:3).
In these three events mentioned by the Apostle, the first is the conclusion of the two which follow: for if the day of the Lord will be revealed in fire, and if the fire tests the quality of a man’s work, the consequence is that the day of the Lord will disclose the differences among men’s works.
166. – Then when he says, if any man’s work, he indicates the manner in which the above disclosures will be made: first, in regard to good works when he says: if any man’s work, which he erected, survives the fire, he, i.e., the one who erected it, shall receive a reward: “Behold, his reward is with him” (Is 40:10).
167. – One’s work is said to abide unharmed by the fire in two ways: in one way on the part of the worker, because the one performing the work, say of good teachings or any good work, is not punished for such works by the fire of purgatory or by the fire which goes before the face of the judge or even by the fire of tribulation. For a person who has not loved temporal things immoderately is not excessively saddened at their loss, because sadness is caused by one’s love of a thing which is lost; hence superfluous love produces sorrow.
In another way on the part of the work itself: for no matter which of the above fires tests a man, the work of good teachings abides as does any other good work. For when the fire of tribulation comes, a man does not depart from his good teachings or from any good work of virtue; rather, each of these abides as to its merit both in the fire of purgatory and in the fire which goes before the face of the judge.
168. – Secondly, he shows the same thing in regard to evil works, saying: If any man’s work burn because of any of the above fires, he shall suffer loss for doing them, but not to the point of damnation; hence he adds: but he himself shall be saved with eternal salvation: “Israel is saved by the Lord with everlasting salvation” (Is 45:17), but only as by fire, which he previously endured either in this life or at the end of the world; hence it says in Ps 66 (v.12): “We went through fire and through water; yet thou hast brought us forth to a spacious place,” and in Is (43:2): “When you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you, for I am the Lord, your Savior.”
169. – Now a man’s work is said to burn in two ways: in one way on the part of the worker, inasmuch as he is afflicted by the fire of tribulation on account of the immoderate attachment he has to earthly things and by the fire of purgatory or by the fire which goes before the face of the judge on account of venial sins, which he committed by caring for temporal things or even by the frivolous and vain things he taught.
In another way a work burns in the fire on the part of the work itself, because when tribulation comes, a person cannot find time for foolish teaching or worldly works: “On that day all his plans perish” (Ps 146:4). Furthermore, the fire of purgatory or the fire which goes before the face of the judge will not leave any of these things to act as a remedy or as merit. Similarly, he suffers a loss in two ways: either because he is punished or because he loses what he accomplished. On this point Sirach (14:19): “Every product decays and ceases to exist, and the man who made it will pass away with it. And every excellent work shall be justified; and the worker thereof shall be honored therein.”
The first of these refers to the person who erects wood, hay and stubble, which is the work that burns in the fire; but the second refers to the person who erects gold, silver and precious stones, which is the work that abides in the fire without any loss.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Opera Omnia of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in 16 Volumes


In the "Opera Omnia" of Ratzinger the Theologian, the Overture Is All about the Liturgy
And Benedict XVI explains why, in the preface to the volume that he wanted to have published first. He recalls that this is how Vatican Council II began, too. By giving God first place. And about the direction to face in prayer, he writes...

by Sandro Magister

ROMA, October 29, 2008 – Last week, when the first volume of the "Opera Omnia" of Joseph Ratzinger was presented at the Vatican, one question naturally arose: why is it that the first volume printed (volume 11), of the sixteen planned, is focused on the liturgy?

To answer this question, it is enough to read the preface that Benedict XVI wrote for the opening of the volume. There, the pope writes that the selection of the theme to begin with was entirely his own. And he explains why. In passages that are highly interesting, and sometimes surprising.

But curiously, at the presentation of the volume, neither the Vatican press office nor the publisher that edited the publication in German, Herder, gave any emphasis to the pope's written preface, nor did they distribute its text.

The German language, a bit difficult for most of the journalists who cover the Vatican all over the world, has contributed to the scarce attention to the work. The first to grasp the importance of the pope's preface, and to refer to it in an extensive article in the newspaper of the Italian bishops' conference, "Avvenire," was Gianni Cardinale, on October 24.

The pope's preface is presented in its entirety below. But in order to understand it better, it is helpful to survey the complete outline of the volumes that will compile the writings of Joseph Ratzinger, theologian, previously published and not.

The texts are arranged not by date of publication, but according to theme. The organization was determined by the pope himself, together with the specific arrangement of each volume.

Volumes I and II will include Ratzinger's undergraduate and doctorate theses, as well as other writings concerning Augustine and Bonaventure, the two doctors of the Church who are the subjects of his theses.

Volume III will open with Ratzinger's inaugural conference as a professor: "The God of faith and the God of the philosophers," delivered in Bonn in 1959, followed by writings on faith and reason and the historical-intellectual foundations of Europe.

Volume IV will open with the famous "Introduction to Christianity" of 1968. It will be followed by other writings on the profession of faith, baptism, following Christ, and the fulfillment of Christian existence.

Volume V will collect writings on creation, anthropology, the doctrine of grace, Mariology.

Volume VI will be on Christology, and will open with "Jesus of Nazareth," the only work in the collection that was written and published after the author's election as pope.

Volume VII will collect the writings on Vatican Council II, including notes and comments from that period.

Volume VIII will deal with ecclesiology and ecumenism.

Volume IX will collect essays on theological epistemology and hermeneutics, in particular on the understanding of the Scriptures, Revelation, Tradition.

Volume X will open with "Eschatology," published in 1977, followed by other writings on hope, death, resurrection, eternal life.

Volume XI is the one that has been published first, in the past few days. It is entitled "Theology of the Liturgy."

Volume XII, dedicated to the doctrine of the sacraments and to the ministry, will be entitled "Proclaimers of the Word and Servants of Your Joy."

Volume XIII will collect the many interviews conducted with Joseph Ratzinger, including the ones published in book form, with Vittorio Messori in 1984, and with Peter Seewald in 1996 and 2000.

Volume XIV will collect homilies from before his election as pope, many of which are little known and previously unpublished.

Volume XV will open with the book "My Life," published in 1997, followed by other writings of an autobiographical and personal nature.

Volume XVI will close the series with a complete bibliography of the works of Joseph Ratzinger in German, plus a comprehensive index of all the preceding volumes. The individual volumes will also be equipped with detailed indexes.

Ratzinger's "Opera Omnia" is being published in German by Herder, in Freiburg. The Italian version is being published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Volume XI, just released in German, will be published in Italian in March of 2009. The Italian publication is being overseen by a commission headed by Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect of the congregation for the causes of saints, and includes Elio Guerriero, director of the Italian edition of the theological journal "Communio," and Fr. Edmund Caruana. The translators are Eulalia Biffi and Edmondo Coccia. Various publishers are working on editions in other languages.

Here then, in our own translation, is the preface written by the pope to the volume that he wanted to be published first, the one dedicated to the liturgy:

Preface to the initial volume of my writings

by Joseph Ratzinger

Vatican Council II began its work with a discussion of the draft document on the sacred liturgy, which was later solemnly approved on December 4, 1963, as the first result of the great Church assembly, with the rank of constitution. At first glance, it might seem to be a coincidence that the topic of the liturgy was put first in the work of the council, and that the constitution on the liturgy was its first result. Pope John had convened the assembly of bishops in a decision that everyone shared in joyfully, in order to reinforce the presence of Christianity in an age of profound change, but without presenting a definite program. An extensive series of projects had been put in place by the preparatory commission. But there was no compass to find the way amid this abundance of proposals. Among all of the projects, the text on the sacred liturgy seemed to be the least controversial. So it immediately seemed to be the right choice: like a sort of exercise, so to speak, with which the fathers could learn the methods of conciliar work.

What seems to be a coincidence at first glance turns out to be, after looking at the hierarchy of themes and tasks of the Church, intrinsically the most just thing as well. By beginning with the theme of "liturgy," the primacy of God, the priority of the "God" theme, was unequivocally brought to light. The first word of the first chapter in the constitution is "God." When the focus is not on God, everything else loses its orientation. The words of the Benedictine rule "Ergo nihil Operi Dei praeponatur" (43,3; "So let nothing be put before the Work of God") apply specifically to monasticism, but as a statement of priority they are also true for the life of the Church, and of each of its members, each in his own way. It is perhaps useful to recall that in the term "orthodoxy," the second half of the word, "doxa,"does not mean "opinion," but "splendor," "glorification": this is not a matter of a correct "opinion" about God, but of a proper way of glorifying him, of responding to him. Because this is the fundamental question of the man who begins to understand himself in the correct way: how should I encounter God? So learning the right way of adoration – of orthodoxy – is what is given to us above all by the faith.

When I decided, after some hesitation, to accept the project of an edition of all of my works, it was immediately clear to me that the order of priorities at the Council also needed to be applied to it, and that therefore the first volume to be published had to be the one containing my writings on the liturgy. Ever since my childhood, the Church's liturgy has been the central activity of my life, and it also became, under the theological instruction of masters like Schmaus, Söhngen, Pascher, and Guardini, the center of my theological work. I chose fundamental theology as my specific topic, because I wanted above all to go to the heart of the question: why do we believe? But right from the beginning, this question included the other one about the proper response to to God, and therefore also the question about the divine service. It is on this basis that my work on the liturgy must be understood. I was not interested in the specific problems of liturgical study, but in the anchoring of the liturgy in the fundamental act of our faith, and therefore also its place in our entire human existence.

This volume now collects all of my short and medium-length work in which over the years, on various occasions and from different perspectives, I have expressed positions on liturgical questions. After all of the contributions that came into being in this way, I was finally prompted to present a vision of the whole, which appeared in the jubilee year 2000 under the title "The Spirit of the Liturgy." This constitutes the central text of the book.

Unfortunately, almost all of the reviews of this have been directed at a single chapter: "The altar and the direction of liturgical prayer." Readers of these reviews must have received the impression that the entire work dealt only with the orientation of the celebration, and that its contents could be reduced to the desire to reintroduce the celebration of the Mass "with [the priest's] back turned to the people." In consideration of this misrepresentation, I thought for a moment about eliminating the chapter (just nine pages out of two hundred) in order to bring the discussion back to the real issue that interested me, and continues to interest me, in the book. It would have been much easier to do this because in the meantime, two excellent works had been published in which the question of the orientation of prayer in the Church during the first millennium is clarified in a persuasive manner. I think first of all of the important, brief book by Uwe Michael Lang "Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer" (Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2004), and in a special way of the tremendous contribution by Stefan Heid, "Atteggiamento ed orientamento della preghiera nella prima epoca cristiana [Attitude and orientation of prayer in the early Christian era]" (in "Rivista d’Archeologia Cristiana" 72, 2006), in which the sources and bibliography on this question have been extensively illustrated and updated.

The result is entirely clear: the idea that the priest and people should look at each other in prayer emerged only in modern Christianity, and is completely foreign to ancient Christianity. Priest and people certainly do not pray to each other, but to the same Lord. So in prayer, they look in the same direction: either toward the East as the cosmic symbol of the Lord who is to come, or, where this is not possible, toward an image of Christ in the apse, toward a cross, or simply toward the sky, as the Lord did in his priestly prayer the evening before his Passion (John 17:1). Fortunately, the proposal that I made at the end of the chapter in question in my book is making headway: not to proceed with new transformations, but simply to place the cross at the center of the altar, so that both priest and faithful can look at it, in order to allow themselves to be drawn toward the Lord to whom all are praying together.

But with this I may have said too much on this point, which represents just one particular of my book, and I could have left it out. The fundamental intention of the work is that of placing the liturgy above the often frivolous questions about this or that form, in its important relationship, which I have sought to describe in three areas that are present in all of the individual themes. In the first place, there is the intimate relationship between the Old and New Testament; without the relationship with the Old Testament heritage, the Christian liturgy is absolutely incomprehensible. The second area is the relationship with the world religions. And finally, there is a third area: the cosmic nature of the liturgy, which represents something beyond a simple meeting of a larger or smaller circle of human beings; the liturgy is celebrated within the vastness of the cosmos, it embraces creation and history at the same time. This is what was intended in the orientation of prayer: that the Redeemer to whom we pray is also the Creator, and so there always remains in the liturgy love for creation and responsibility toward it. I would be happy if this new edition of my liturgical writings could contribute to displaying the great perspectives of our liturgy, and putting certain frivolous controversies about external forms in the right place.

Finally, and above all, I feel the need to express thanks. My thanks is due in the first place to Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, who has taken charge of the "Opera Omnia" and has created both the personal and institutional conditions for its realization. In a very special way, I would like to thank Prof. Dr. Rudolf Voderholzer, who has invested extraordinary time and energy in gathering and organizing my writings. I also thank Dr. Christian Schaler, who is providing valuable assistance. Finally, my sincere thanks goes to the Herder publishing house, which has taken on the burden of this difficult and laborious work with great love and attentiveness. May all of this contribute to a deeper understanding of the liturgy, and its worthy celebration. "The joy of the Lord is our strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).

Rome, feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29, 2008


The publisher of the "Opera Omnia" of Joseph Ratzinger in its original German:

> Verlag Herder


On www.chiesa, the presentation made by the secretary of the congregation for divine worship, Archbishop Malcolm Ranjit, of the book by Uwe Michael Lang, "Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer," cited by Benedict XVI in the text presented above:

> The New Curia of Benedict XVI Looks toward Asia (26.5.2006)


English translation by Matthew Sherry, Saint Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Intolerant Forged Dissent Heroically Resisted!

This was an address given 11 June 2008 at the American Academy of FertilityCare Professionals (AAFCP) 27th Annual Metting in Rome: "Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae and 30 Years of Education Program Support from Creighton University School of Medicine" 11-14 June 2008. It was later published in the L'Osservatore Romano for the 40th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae 25 July 2008.

Humanae Vitae
The Year of the Peirasmòs - 1968
By Cardinal James Francis Stafford

“Lead us not into temptation” is the sixth petition of the Our Father. Πειρασμός (Peirasmòs), the Greek word used in this passage for ‘temptation.’, means a trial or test. Disciples petition God to be protected against the supreme test of ungodly powers. The trial is related to Jesus’s cup in Gethsemane, the same cup which his disciples would also taste (Mk 10: 35-45). The dark side of the interior of the cup is an abyss. It reveals the awful consequences of God’s judgment upon sinful humanity. In August, 1968, the weight of the evangelical Πειρασμός fell on many priests, including myself.

It was the year of the bad war, of complex innocence that sanctified the shedding of blood. English historian Paul Johnson dubs 1968 as the year of “America’s Suicide Attempt.” It included the Tet offensive in Vietnam with its tsunami-like effects in American life and politics, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee; the tumult in American cities on Palm Sunday weekend; and the June assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy in southern California. It was also the year in which Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical letter on transmitting human life, Humanae Vitae (HV). He met immediate, premeditated, and unprecedented opposition from some American theologians and pastors. By any measure 1968 was a bitter cup.

On the fortieth anniversary of Humanae Vitae, I have been asked to reflect on one event of that year, the doctrinal dissent among some priests and theologians in an American Archdiocese on the occasion of its publication. It is not an easy or welcome task. But since it may help some followers of Jesus to live what Pope Paul VI called a more “disciplined” life (HV 21), I will explore that event.

The summer of 1968 is a record of God’s hottest hour. The memories are not forgotten; they are painful. They remain vivid like a tornado in the plains of Colorado. They inhabit the whirlwind where God’s wrath dwells. In 1968 something terrible happened in the Church. Within the ministerial priesthood ruptures developed everywhere among friends which never healed. And the wounds continue to affect the whole Church. The dissent, together with the leaders’ manipulation of the anger they fomented, became a supreme test. It changed fundamental relationships within the Church. It was a Πειρασμός for many.

Some background material is necessary. Cardinal Lawrence J. Shehan, the sixth Archbishop of Baltimore, was my ecclesiastical superior at the time. Pope Paul VI had appointed him along with others as additional members to the Papal Commission for the Study of Problems of the Family, Population, and Birth Rates, first established by Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1963 during the II Vatican Council. There had been discussions and delays and unauthorized interim reports from Rome prior to 1968. The enlarged Commission was asked to make recommendations on these issues to the Pope.

In preparation for its deliberations, the Cardinal sent confidential letters to various persons of the Church of Baltimore seeking their advice. I received such a letter.

My response drew upon experience, both personal and pastoral. Family and education had given me a Christian understanding of sex. The profoundly Catholic imagination of my family, friends and teachers had caused me to be open to this reality; I was filled with wonder before its mystery. Theological arguments weren’t necessary to convince me of the binding connection between sexual acts and new life. That truth was an accepted part of life at the elementary school connected with St. Joseph’s Passionist Monastery Parish in Baltimore. In my early teens my father had first introduced me to the full meaning of human sexuality and the need for discipline. His intervention opened a path through the labyrinth of adolescence.

Through my family, schools, and parishes I became friends with many young women. Some of them I dated on a regular basis. I marveled at their beauty. The courage of St. Maria Goretti, canonized in 1950, struck my generation like an intense mountain storm. Growing into my later teens I understood better how complex friendship with young women could be. They entered the spring-time of my life like the composite rhythm of a poem. To my surprise, the joy of being their friend was enriched by prayer, modesty, and the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist.

Later education and formation in seminaries built upon those experiences. In a 1955 letter to a friend, Flannery O’Connor describes the significance of the virtue of purity for many Catholics at that time. “To see Christ as God and man is probably no more difficult today than it has been. ... For you it may be a matter of not being able to accept what you call a suspension of the law of the flesh and the physical, but for my part I think that when I know what the laws of the flesh and physical reality really are, then I will know what God is. We know them as we see them, not as God sees them. For me it is the virgin birth, the Incarnation, the resurrection which are the true laws of the flesh and the physical. Death, decay, destruction are the suspension of these laws. I am always astonished at the emphasis the Church places on the body. It is not the soul she says that will rise but the body, glorified. I have always thought that purity was the most mysterious of the virtues, but it occurs to me that it would never have entered human consciousness if we were not to look forward to a resurrection of the body, which will be flesh and spirit united in peace, in the way they were in Christ. The resurrection of Christ seems the high point in the law of nature.” O’Connor’s theology with its remarkably eschatological mark anticipates the teaching of the II Vatican Council, “The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light” (Gaudium et Spes 22). In those years, I could not have used her explicit words to explain where I stood on sexuality and its use. Once I discovered them she became a spiritual sister.

Eight years of priestly ministry from 1958 to 1966 in Washington and Baltimore broadened my experience. It didn’t take long to discover changes in Americans’ attitudes towards the virtue of purity. Both cities were undergoing sharp increases in out-of-wedlock pregnancies. The rate in Baltimore’s inner-city was about 18% in 1966 and had been climbing for several years. In 1965-1966 the Baltimore Metropolitan Health and Welfare Council undertook a study to advise the city government in how to address the issue. At that time, the Board members of the Council, including myself, had uncritical faith in experts and social research. Even the II Vatican Council had expressed unfettered confidence in the role of benevolent experts (Gaudium et Spes 57). Not one of my professional acquaintances anticipated the crisis of trust which was just around the corner in the relations between men and women. Our vision was incapable of establishing conditions of justice and of purity of heart in which wonder and appreciation can find play. We were already anachronistic and without hope. We ignored the texture of life.

There were signs even then of the disasters facing children, both born and unborn. As a caseworker and priest throughout the 1960's, part of my ministry involved counseling inner-city families and single parents. My first awareness of a parishioner using hard drugs was in 1961. A sixteen-year old had been jailed in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. At the time of my late afternoon visit to him, he was experiencing drug withdrawal unattended and alone in a tiny cell. His screams filled the corridors and adjoining cells. Through the iron bars dividing us, I was horror-stricken watching him in his torment. The abyss he was looking into was unimaginably terrifying. In this drugged youth writhing in agony on the floor next to an open toilet I saw the bitter fruits of the estrangement of men and women. His mother, separated from her husband, lived with her younger children in a sweltering third floor flat on Light St. in old South Baltimore. The father was non-existent for them. The failure of men in their paternal and spousal roles was unfolding before my eyes and ears. Since then more and more American men have refused to accept responsibility for their sexuality.

In a confidential letter responding to his request, I shared in a general fashion these concerns. My counsel to Cardinal Shehan was very real and specific. I had taken a hard, cold look at what I was experiencing and what the Church and society were doing. I came across an idea which was elliptical: the gift of love should be allowed to be fruitful. These two fixed points are constant. This simple idea lit up everything like lightning in a storm. I wrote about it more formally to the Cardinal: the unitive and procreative meanings of marriage cannot be separated. Consequently, to deprive a conjugal act deliberately of its fertility is intrinsically wrong. To encourage or approve such an abuse would lead to the eclipse of fatherhood and to disrespect for women. Since then, Pope John Paul II has given us the complementary and superlative insight into the nuptial meaning of the human body. Decades afterwards, I came across an analogous reading from Meister Eckhart: “Gratitude for the gift is shown only by allowing it to make one fruitful.”

Some time later, the Papal Commission sent its recommendations to the Pope. The majority advised that the Church’s teaching on contraception be changed in light of new circumstances. Cardinal Shehan was part of that majority. Even before the encyclical had been signed and issued, his vote had been made public although not on his initiative.

As we know, the Pope decided otherwise. This sets the scene for the tragic drama following the actual date of the publication of the encyclical letter on July 29, 1968.

In his memoirs, Cardinal Shehan describes the immediate reaction of some priests in Washington to the encyclical. “[A]fter receiving the first news of the publication of the encyclical, the Rev. Charles E. Curran, instructor of moral theology of The Catholic University of America, flew back to Washington from the West where he had been staying. Late [on the afternoon of July 29], he and nine other professors of theology of the Catholic University met, by evident prearrangement, in Caldwell Hall to receive, again by prearrangement with the Washington Post, the encyclical, part by part, as it came from the press. The story further indicated that by nine o’clock that night, they had received the whole encyclical, had read it, had analyzed it, criticized it, and had composed their six-hundred word ‘Statement of Dissent.’ Then they began that long series of telephone calls to ‘theologians’ throughout the East, which went on, according to the Post, until 3:30 A.M., seeking authorization, to attach their names as endorsers (signers was the term used) of the statement, although those to whom they had telephoned could not have had an opportunity to see either the encyclical or their statement. Meanwhile, they had arranged through one of the local television stations to have the statement broadcast that night.”

The Cardinal’s judgment was scornful. In 1982 he wrote, “The first thing that we have to note about the whole performance is this: so far as I have been able to discern, never in the recorded history of the Church has a solemn proclamation of a Pope been received by any group of Catholic people with so much disrespect and contempt.”

The personal Πειρασμός, the test, began. In Baltimore in early August, 1968, a few days after the encyclical’s issuance, I received an invitation by telephone from a recently ordained assistant pastor to attend a gathering of some Baltimore priests at the rectory of St. William of York parish in southwest Baltimore to discuss the encyclical. The meeting was set for Sunday evening, August 4. I agreed to come. Eventually a large number of priests were gathered in the rectory’s basement. I knew them all.

The dusk was clear, hot, and humid. The quarters were cramped. We were seated on rows of benches and chairs and were led by a diocesan inner-city pastor well known for his work in liturgy and race-relations. There were also several Sulpician priests present from St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore to assist him in directing the meeting. I don’t recall their actual number.

My expectations of the meeting proved unrealistic. I had hoped that we had been called together to receive copies of the encyclical and to discuss it. I was mistaken. Neither happened.

After welcoming us and introducing the leadership, the inner-city pastor came to the point. He expected each of us to subscribe to the Washington “Statement of Dissent.” Mixing passion with humor, he explained the reasons. They ranged from the maintenance of the credibility of the Church among the laity to the need to allow ‘flexibility’ for married couples in forming their consciences on the use of artificial contraceptives. Before our arrival, the conveners had decided that the Baltimore priests’ rejection of the papal encyclical would be published the following morning in The Baltimore Sun, one of the daily newspapers.

The Washington statement was read aloud. Then the leader asked each of us to agree to have our names attached to it. No time was allowed for discussion, reflection, or prayer. Each priest was required individually to give a verbal “yes” or “no.”

I could not sign it. My earlier letter to Cardinal Shehan came to mind. I remained convinced of the truth of my judgement and conclusions. Noting that my seat was last in the packed basement, I listened to each priest’s response, hoping for support. It didn’t materialize. Everyone agreed to sign. There were no abstentions. As the last called upon, I felt isolated. The basement became suffocating.

By now it was night. The room was charged with tension. Something epochal was taking place. It became clear that the leaders’ strategy had been carefully mapped out beforehand. It was moving along without a hitch. Their rhetorical skills were having their anticipated effect. They had planned carefully how to exert what amounted to emotional and intellectual coercion. Violence by overt manipulation was new to the Baltimore presbyterate.
The leader’s reaction to my refusal was predictable and awful. The whole process now became a grueling struggle, a terrible test, a Πειρασμος. The priest/leader, drawing upon some scatological language from his Marine Corp past in the II World War responded contemptuously to my decision. He tried to force me to change. He became visibly angry and verbally abusive. The underlying, ‘fraternal’ violence became more evident. He questioned and then derided my integrity. He taunted me to risk my ecclesiastical ‘future,’ although his reference was more anatomically specific. The abuse went on.

With surprising coherence I was eventually able to respond that the Pope’s encyclical deserved the courtesy of a reading. None of us had read it. I continued that, as a matter of fact, I agreed with and accepted the Pope’s teaching as it had been reported in the public media. That response elicited more ridicule. Otherwise there was silence. Finally, seeing that I would remain firm, the ex-Marine moved on to complete the business and adjourn the meeting. The leaders then prepared a statement for the next morning’s daily paper.

The meeting ended. I sped out of there, free but disoriented. Once outside the darkness encompassed me. We all had been subjected to a new thing in the Church, something unexpected. A pastor and several seminary professors had abused rhetoric to undermine the truth within the evangelical community. When opposed, they assumed the role of Job’s friends. Their contempt became a nightmare. In the night it seemed that God’s blind hand was reaching out to touch my face.

The dissent of a few Sulpician seminary professors compounded my disorientation. In their ancient Baltimore Seminary I had first caught on to the connection between freedom, interiority, and obedience. By every ecclesial measure they should have been aware that the process they supported that evening exceeded the “norms of licit dissent.” But they showed no concern for the gravity of that theological and pastoral moment. They saw nothing unbecoming in the mix of publicity and theology. They expressed no impatience then or later over the coercive nature of the August meeting. Nor did any of the other priests present. One diocesan priest did request privately later that night that his name be removed before the statement’s publication in the morning paper.

For a long time, I wondered about the meaning of the event. It was a cataclysm which was difficult to survive intact. Things were sorted out slowly. Later, Henri de Lubac captured some of its significance, “Nothing is more opposed to witness than vulgarization. Nothing is more unlike the apostolate than propaganda.” Hannah Arendt’s insights have been useful concerning the dangerous poise of 20th century western culture between unavoidable doom and reckless optimism. “It should be possible to discover the hidden mechanics by which all traditional elements of our political and spiritual world were dissolved into a conglomeration of where everything seems to have lost specific value, and has become unrecognizable for human comprehension, unusable for human purpose. To yield to the mere process of disintegration has become an irresistible temptation, not only because it has assumed the spurious grandeur of ‘historical necessity’, but also because everything outside it has begun to appear lifeless, bloodless, meaningless and unreal”. The subterranean world that has always accompanied Catholic communities, called Gnosticism by our ancestors, had again surfaced and attempted to usurp the truth of the Catholic tradition.

An earlier memory from April 1968 helped to shed further light on what had happened in August, 1968 along with de Lubac’s words about violence and Arendt’s insights into the breaking point reached by Western civilization in the 20th century. During the height of the 1968 Baltimore riots following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I had made an emergency call to that same inner-city pastor who would lead the later August meeting. It was one of numerous telephone conversations I had with inner-city pastors during the night preceding Palm Sunday. At the request of the city government, I was asking whether the pastors or their people, both beleaguered, might need food, medical assistance, or other help.

My conversation with him that April night was by far the most dramatic. He described the view from the rectory while speaking on the phone. A window framed a dissolving neighborhood; his parish was becoming a raging inferno. He said, “From here I see nothing but fire burning everywhere. Everything has been set ablaze. The Church and rectory are untouched thus far.” He did not wish to leave or be evacuated. His voice betrayed disillusionment and fear. Later we learned that the parish buildings survived.

‘Sorting out’ these two events of violence continued throughout the following months and years. The trajectories of April and August 1968 unpredictably converged. Memories of the physical violence in the city in April 1968 helped me to name what had happened in August 1968. Ecclesial dissent can become a kind of spiritual violence in its form and content. A new, unsettling insight emerged. Violence and truth don’t mix. When expressive violence of whatever sort is inflicted upon truth, the resulting irony is lethal.

What do I mean? Look at the results of the two events. After the violent 1968 Palm Sunday weekend, civil dialogue in metropolitan Baltimore broke down and came to a stop. It took a back seat to open anger and recriminations between whites and blacks. The violence of the priests’ August gathering gave rise to its own ferocious acrimony. Conversations among the clergy, where they existed, became contaminated with fear. Suspicions among priests were chronic. Fears abounded. And they continue. The Archdiocesan priesthood lost something of the fraternal whole which Baltimore priests had known for generations. 1968 marked the hiatus of the generational communio of the Archdiocesan presbyterate, which had been continually reinforced by the seminary and its Sulpician faculty. Priests’ fraternity had been wounded. Pastoral dissent had attacked the Eucharistic foundation of the Church. Its nuptial significance had been denied. Some priests saw bishops as nothing more than Roman mannequins.

Something else happened among priests on that violent August night. Friendship in the Church sustained a direct hit. Jesus, by calling those who were with him his ‘friends,’ had made friendship a privileged analogy of the Church. That analogy became obscured after a large number of priests expressed shame over their leaders and repudiated their teaching.

Cardinal Shehan later reported that on Monday morning, August 5, he “was startled to read in the Baltimore Sun that seventy-two priests of the Baltimore area had signed the Statement of Dissent.” What he later called “the years of crisis” began for him during that hot, violent August evening in 1968.

But that night was not a total loss. The test was unexpected and unwelcome. Its unhinging consequences continue. Abusive, coercive dissent has become a reality in the Church and subjects her to violent, debilitating, unproductive, chronic controversies. But I did discover something new. Others also did. When the moment of Christian witness came, no Christian could be coerced who refused to be. Despite the novelty of being treated as an object of shame and ridicule, I did not become “ashamed of the Gospel” that night and found “sweet delight in what is right.” It was not a bad lesson. Ecclesial obedience ran the distance.

My discovery that Christ was the first to despise shame was gut-rending in its existential and providential reality. “Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.” Paradoxically, in the hot, August night a new sign shown unexpectedly on the path to future life. It read, “Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered.”

The violence of the initial disobedience was only a prelude to further and more pervasive violence. Priests wept at meetings over the manipulation of their brothers. Contempt for the truth, whether aggressive or passive, has become common in Church life. Dissenting priests, theologians and laypeople have continued their coercive techniques. From the beginning the press has used them to further its own serpentine agenda.

All of this led to a later discovery. Discernment is an essential part of episcopal ministry. With the grace of “the governing Spirit” the discerning skills of a bishop should mature. Episcopal attention should focus on the break/rupture initiated by Jesus and described by St. Paul in his response to Corinthian dissenters. “You desire proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful in you. For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we are weak in him, but in dealing with you we shall live with him by the power of God. Examine yourselves, to see whether you are holding to your faith. Test yourselves” (2 Cor 13: 3-5).

The rupture of the violent death of Jesus has changed our understanding of the nature of God. His Trinitarian life is essentially self-surrender and love. By Baptism, every disciple of Jesus is imprinted with that Trinitarian water-mark. The Incarnate Word came to do the will of him who sent him. Contemporary obedience of disciples to the Successor of Peter cannot be separated from the poverty of spirit and purity of heart modeled and won by the Word on the Cross.

A brief after word. In 1978 or thereabouts during an episcopal visitation to his parish, I was having lunch with the Baltimore pastor, the ex-Marine, who led the August 1968 meeting. I was a guest in his rectory. He was still formidable. Our conversation was about his parish, the same parish he had been shepherding during the 1968 riots. The atmosphere was amiable. During the simple meal in the kitchen I came to an uneasy decision. Since we had never discussed the August 1968 night, I decided to initiate a conversation about it. My recall was brief, objective and, insofar as circumstances allowed, unthreatening. I had hoped for some light from him on an event which had become central to the experience of many priests including myself. While my mind and heart were recalling the events of the night, he remained silent. His silence continued afterwards. Even though he had not forgotten, he made no comment. He didn’t lift his eyes. His heart’s fire was colder now.

Nothing was forthcoming. I left the matter there. No dialogue was possible in 1968; it remained impossible in 1978. There was no common ground. Both of us were looking into an abyss - from opposite sides. Anguish and disquiet overwhelmed the distant hope of reconciliation and friendship. We never returned to the subject again. He has since died while serving a large suburban parish. The only remaining option is to strike my breast and pray, “Lord, remember the secret worth of all our human worthlessness”

Diocesan presbyterates have not recovered from the July/August nights in 1968. Many in consecrated life also failed the evangelical test. Since January 2002, the abyss has opened up elsewhere. The whole people of God, including children and adolescents, now must look into the abyss and see what dread beasts are at its bottom. Each of us shudders before the wrath of God, each weeps in sorrow for our sins and each begs for the Father’s merciful remembrance of Christ’s obedience.

J. Francis Cardinal Stafford
Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Clementine HallSaturday, 7 June 2008

Your Eminence, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, Illustrious Professors,
For me it is a motive of profound joy to meet you on the occasion of the Sixth European Symposium for University Professors on the theme: "Widen the horizons of rationality. Perspectives for Philosophy" promoted by the Professors of the Universities of Rome and organized by the Office for Campus Ministry of the Vicariate of Rome in collaboration with the regional and provincial Institutions and the Municipality of Rome. I thank Cardinal Camillo Ruini and Prof. Cesare Mirabelli who have interpreted your sentiments, and I address my cordial welcome to all those present.
In continuity with last year's European meeting of university Lecturers, your Symposium takes up a very important academic and cultural theme. I would like to express my gratitude to the organizing committee for this choice which permits us, among other things, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the publication of the Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio of my beloved Predecessor Pope John Paul II. Already on that occasion 50 civil and ecclesial philosophy professors of the public and pontifical universities of Rome manifested their gratitude to the Pope with a declaration which confirmed the urgency of relaunching the study of philosophy in universities and schools. Sharing this concern and encouraging fruitful collaboration among the professors of various Roman and European athenaeums, I wish to address a particular invitation to philosophy professors to continue with confidence in philosophical research, investing intellectual energy and involving new generations in this task.
The events which took place in the last 10 years since the Encyclical's publication have further delineated the historical and cultural scene in which philosophical research is called to enter. Indeed, the crisis of modernity is not synonymous with the decline in philosophy; instead philosophy must commit itself to a new path of research to comprehend the true nature of this crisis (cf. Address to European Meeting of University Lecturers, 23 June 2007) and to identify new prospectives toward which to be oriented. Modernity, if well understood, reveals an "anthropological question" that presents itself in a much more complex and articulated way than what has taken place in the philosophical reflections of the last centuries, above all in Europe. Without diminishing the attempts made, much still remains to be probed and understood. Modernity is not simply a cultural phenomenon, historically dated; in reality it implies a new planning, a more exact understanding of human nature. It is not difficult to gather from the writings of authoritative thinkers an honest reflection on the difficulties that arise in the resolution of this prolonged crisis. Giving credit to some authors' proposals in regard to religions and in particular to Christianity, is an evident sign of the sincere desire to exist from the self-sufficiency of philosophical reflection.
From the beginning of my Pontificate I have listened attentively to the requests that reach me from the men and women of our time and, in view of their expectations, I have wished to offer a pointer for research that seems to me capable of raising interest to relaunch philosophy and its irreplaceable role in the academic and cultural world. You have made it the object of reflection of your Symposium: it is the proposal to "widen the horizons of rationality". This allows me to reflect on it with you as among friends who desire to pursue a common journey. I would like to begin with a deep conviction which I have expressed many times: "Christian faith has made its clear choice: against the gods of religion for the God of philosophers, in other words against the myth of mere custom for the truth of being" (cf. J. Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, Ch. 3). This affirmation, that reflects the Christian journey from its dawning, shows itself completely actual in the cultural historical context that we are living. In fact, only beginning from this premise, which is historic and theological at the same time, is it possible to meet the new expectations of philosophical reflection. The risk that religion, even Christianity, be strumentalized as a surreptitious phenomenon is very concrete even today.
But Christianity, as I recalled in the Encyclical Spe Salvi, is not only "informative", but "performative" (cf. n. 2). This means that from the beginning Christian faith cannot be enclosed within an abstract world of theories, but it must descend into the concrete historic experience that reaches humanity in the most profound truth of his existence. This experience, conditioned by new cultural and ideological situations, is the place in which theological research must evaluate and upon which it is urgent to initiate a fruitful dialogue with philosophy. The understanding of Christianity as a real transformation of human existence, if on the one hand it impels theological reflection to a new approach in regard to religion, on the other, it encourages it not to lose confidence in being able to know reality. The proposal to "widen the horizons of rationality", therefore, must not simply be counted among the new lines of theological and philosophical thought, but it must be understood as the requisite for a new opening onto the reality that the human person in his uni-totality is, rising above ancient prejudices and reductionisms, to open itself also to the way toward a true understanding of modernity. Humanity's desire for fullness cannot be disregarded. The Christian faith is called to take on this historical emergency by involving the men and women of good will in a simple task. The new dialogue between faith and reason, required today, cannot happen in the terms and in the ways in which it happened in the past. If it does not want to be reduced to a sterile intellectual exercise, it must begin from the present concrete situation of humanity and upon this develop a reflection that draws from the ontological-metaphysical truth.
Dear friends, you have before you a very exacting journey. First of all, it is necessary to promote high-level academic centres in which philosophy can dialogue with other disciplines, in particular with theology, favouring new, suitable cultural syntheses to orient society's journey. The European dimension of your meeting in Rome - indeed, you come from 26 countries - can favour a truly fruitful comparison and exchange. I trust that the Catholic academic institutions are ready to open true cultural laboratories. I would also like to invite you to encourage youth to engage in philosophical studies, opportunely favouring initiatives with a university orientation. I am certain that the new generations, with their enthusiasm, will know how to respond generously to the expectations of the Church and society.
In a few days I will have the joy of opening the Pauline Year, during which we will celebrate the Apostle to the Gentiles: I hope that this unique initiative constitutes for all of you an opportune occasion to rediscover, in the footsteps of the great Apostle, the historic fecundity of the Gospel and its extraordinary potentiality for contemporary culture too. With this wish, I impart my Blessing to you all.
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