Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Regensburg Address: Important for Catholic Education! (Part 2)

This is a three part series on Pope Benedict XVI and his Regensburg Address. Part 2 is here posted; Part 1 can be found here, while the last will soon follow.


Truth & Charity go together:

This is the thing will perhaps define his papacy—truth and charity go together. We live in a world and, there are some in the Church, that believe there is not anything we can fundamentally say about anything—that truth is relative and subjective impossibility; that we must be open to all and any ideas—leaving the door open so wide that anything or everything is “OK.”

Combine that with a dramatically declining view of morality and ethics and we see the situation Benedict XVI is addressing. It seems that the super-autonomous sense of freedom that dominates the individual psyche today has much to learn from our Holy Father.

In fact, not any system of reason is a good one. The twentieth century, as bloody and violent as it was, has taught us that. Furthermore, there are many Christian and non-Christian assertions that are incorrect. They are often predicated on poor reasoning and typically wind up forcing the Christian faith into saying something that is not true to the faith, not true to Christ in the Gospels, and not true to the critically purified Greek Heritage of reasoning that Christ teaches in Scripture. The most polemic mode of reasoning is based almost entirely on "personal experience." The result is collage of contradictory views and praxis of life that boasts of its relativistic foundations.

To add fuel to an already burning fire, many of the same praxis just mentioned anchor their lives on sensory stimulation and "what feels good." This results in statements such as: "as long as it does not hurt anyone else and, it makes you happy because it feels good, then anything is alright." This is a very common premise of reasoning that exists today. Where is God in a worldview such as this? How does God and truth even show up if this is how one thinks? Is truth possible, or is truth something even considered?

Benedict XVI is trying to state that truth is something that is universal, in as much as it is particular. It is not enough to just get one part correct in reasoning the content and form of the faith. This is a hard thing to do. Unfortunately, what we have seen in the last 50 years is an exponential jolt in this “Third Stage of De-Hellenization” Benedict XVI articulates to us in this Regensburg Address. Many take only certain parts of the faith they deem palatable to be formed into the socially ideological agenda of popular culture. The result is a divided body in the Church.

Truth is a relative and subjective impossibility? That is dead wrong! Truth does exist and it is a gift that we receive from Christ and in Christ! It has been passed down to us through the centuries by the Patristic Fathers of the Church and it is ours to do the same in forming our Catholic Education.

Benedict XVI's words seem to be pointing in the direction and, lend themselves to say that Thomism (St. Thomas Aquinas) is not only the best way to articulate Christianity, but the only legitimate way.

Yet, still there are many that rear at these assertions made in this blog, based on Benedict XVI’s addresses. The Gospels tell us that truth will not be immediately accepted. In Matthew’s Gospel, Christ tells us about the “Parable of the Sower,” followed by an insight into the relationship between faith & reason by answering to his disciples “Why He Teaches in Parables.” (Matt 13:10-17)

Christ’s message, mediated to us by Mathew’s Gospel in Scripture, is that there are those “outsiders” who do not see Christ as the key to unlocking the mysteries about the Kingdom of God. Just as a seed must fall to the ground and die, before it can yield a harvest, so will our work to spread the Gospels—which are truth—to any who will listen, be difficult.

This does not suggest that truth is something only to be given to the privileged and spiritually elite. Any sense of Gnostic elitism in the Christian faith and is wrong. Rather, truth is open and available to all people. It is a gift and it is received. So Benedict's message is given along those lines and in the spirit of truth and charity.

Benedict XVI not only reads like an academic lecture, but it reads like a well-charged homily for those who make the effort to listen and, for everyone else as well. We should be excited by his words—there will be a harvest, there will be fruit! (maybe saying it is a well-charged homily is a stretch, but hey this is an awesome lecture.)

Speaking Truth can have serious consequences:

As stated before, many rear against the words our Holy Father teaches us. He does not make them to instigate a fight. His will is oriented towards the good as it connects to the Greatest Good, our Lord. He gives them in love.

It is very hard to see the global response that still lurks over this address’ legacy. Many in the Islamic world saw this as a direct attack on their faith and responded with violence against Christians and Catholics around the world. The pop-culture mass media not only misguides people to what Benedict XVI said in the Regensburg Address, but they do not seem to be able to even understand its content.

The truth of the matter is that his historical reference to the Islamic faith was only a brief prelude to the lecture’s assertion that, as Catholics, we proclaim and teach the Trinity—God the Father, Christ the incarnate word, the logos, who is both truly human and divine, and the Holy Spirit which connects all of us together. The Trinity is the central theme of all Christianity.

What he was getting at is a subtle way to commenting on the difference between theological understanding and rational understanding of who God is and why we pursue truth.

His comment on Islam was only a short segway into making string historical claims about what reason is and how it relates to faith. We pray that future dialogue will not yield such violent and horrible responses.

To be continued...

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