Thursday, February 16, 2006

Pope Benedict's Christmas Encyclical

MM, thanks for Pope Benedict's first Papal Encyclical. I loved it. As usual he shows a deft ability to integrate various aspects of Christian Theology. He does those of us from apostolic traditions proud. It's rare that such an insightful theologian is the leader of the Catholic Church. Just look at the man's biography! (for those interested, MM posted the web address on my previous post). He makes an excellent argument for one of my recurring points - we need to use our language more carefully and precisely. A prof here at seminary has definately gotten me to see this more clearly.

Here are some parts that really struck me as gems:

"The epicure Gassendi used to offer Descartes the humorous greeting: “O Soul!” And Descartes would reply: “O Flesh!”.[3] Yet it is neither the spirit alone nor the body alone that loves: it is man, the person, a unified creature composed of body and soul, who loves. Only when both dimensions are truly united, does man attain his full stature. Only thus is love —eros—able to mature and attain its authentic grandeur."

"Yet eros and agape—ascending love and descending love—can never be completely separated. The more the two, in their different aspects, find a proper unity in the one reality of love, the more the true nature of love in general is realized."

"As a community, the Church must practise love. Love thus needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community."

"The Church is one of those living forces: she is alive with the love enkindled by the Spirit of Christ. This love does not simply offer people material help, but refreshment and care for their souls, something which often is even more necessary than material support. In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live “by bread alone” (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3)—a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human."

"It is time to reaffirm the importance of prayer in the face of the activism and the growing secularism of many Christians engaged in charitable work. Clearly, the Christian who prays does not claim to be able to change God's plans or correct what he has foreseen. Rather, he seeks an encounter with the Father of Jesus Christ, asking God to be present with the consolation of the Spirit to him and his work."


Blogger D said...

I love what you've said about the U.S. blindly following celebrities instead of universities. It was ROTM (right on the money)

Though I think your opinions are eloquent and well-expressed, I can't agree that homosexuality is as widely portrayed as you describe. Perhaps because it is such an issue in your circles it stands out more?

I don't say this as an enemy. I used to be an evangelical and remember how the "persecution complex" was bred into believers--that secular society was just waiting to pounce on their faith and destroy it. I've got to say, I don't miss that outlook one bit. It was an exhausting way to view the world...

That being said I do value faith, and have studied religion from a sociological/psychological point of view. I'd love to discuss it if you promise not to hammer me for my worldly lifestyle...

My true belief is that God is the consummate adult and is no where near as small and judgmental as some of his people... ;)

I do like the way you write.

3:03 PM  

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