Posts Tagged ‘Pope John Paul II’
Posted in Catechetics, Catholic, Christian, God, Jesus, prayer, tagged cross, Franciscan University of Steubenville, God, grow, holiness, Jeff Cavins, Jesus, offer it up, Pope John Paul II, prayer, redemptive suffering on September 5, 2012 | 6 Comments »
Posted in Catholic, Catholicism, Christian, Christianity, God, Philosophy, Pope, Religion, Theology, tagged cross, God, Jesus Christ, letter, pain, Pope John Paul II, redemptive suffering, salvation, Salvifici Doloris on March 31, 2012 | 3 Comments »
Throughout the past week I have been reflecting on redemptive suffering. I have been focusing on giving my physical pain to Christ in union with his suffering on the cross. I having to cope with abdominal pain, migraines, and now pain behind and above my eye (around my eyelid) I have also been trying to let go and let God, instead of worrying about these problems. Yesterday I read a section of Pope John Paul II’s letter Salvifici Doloris which focuses on the redemptive suffering of Christ. Blessed JPII brings great insight into the suffering that Christ endured on the cross for our salvation. Salvifici Doloris is very apropos to read at this time of year.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” These words, spoken by Christ in His conversation with Nicodemus, introduce us into the very heart of God’s salvific work. They also express the very essence of Christian soteriology, that is, of the theology of salvation. Salvation means liberation from evil, and for this reason it is closely bound up with the problem of suffering. According to the words spoken to Nicodemus, God gives His Son to “the world” to free men from evil, which bears within itself the definitive and absolute perspective on suffering. At the same time, the very word “gives” (“gave”) indicates that this liberation must be achieved by the only begotten Son through His own suffering. And in this, love is manifested, the infinite love both of that only-begotten Son and of the Father who for this reason “gives” His Son. .This is love for man, love for the “world”: it is salvific love.
The words quoted above from Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus refer to suffering in its fundamental and definitive meaning. God gives His only-begotten Son so that man “should not perish” and the meaning of these words “should not perish” is precisely specified by the words that follow: “but have eternal life.”
Man “perishes” when he loses “eternal life.” The opposite of salvation is not, therefore, only temporal suffering, any kind of suffering, but the definitive suffering: the loss of eternal life, being rejected by God–damnation. The only-begotten Son was given to humanity primarily to protect man against this definitive evil and against definitive suffering. In His salvific mission, the Son must therefore strike evil right at its transcendental roots from which it develops in human history. These transcendental roots of evil are grounded in sin and death: for they are at the basis of the loss of eternal life. The mission of the only begotten Son consists in conquering sin and death. He conquers sin by His obedience unto death, and He overcomes death by His resurrection.
As a result of Christ’s salvific work, man exists on earth with the hope of eternal life and holiness. And even though the victory over sin and death achieved by Christ in His cross and resurrection does not abolish temporal suffering from human life, nor free from suffering the whole historical dimension of human existence, it nevertheless throws a new light upon this dimension and upon every suffering; the light of salvation. This is the light of the Gospel, that is, of the Good News. At the heart of this light is the truth expounded in the conversation with Nicodemus: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” This truth radically changes the picture of man’s history and his earthly situation: in spite of the sin that took root in this history both as an original inheritance and as the “sin of the world” and as the sum of personal sins, God the Father has loved the only-begotten Son, that is, He loves Him in a lasting way; and then in time, precisely through this all-surpassing love, He “gives” this Son, that He may strike at the very roots of human evil and thus draw close in a salvific way to the whole world of suffering in which man shares.
Christ goes towards His passion and death with full awareness of the mission that He has to fulfill precisely in this way. Precisely by means of this suffering He must bring it about “that man should not perish, but have eternal life.” Precisely by means of His cross He must strike at the roots of evil, planted in the history of man and in human souls. Precisely by means of His cross He must accomplish the work of salvation. This work, in the plan of eternal Love, has a redemptive character.
Christ goes toward His own suffering, aware of its saving power; He goes forward in obedience to the Father, but primarily He is united to the Father in this love with which He has loved the world and man in the world. And for this reason St. Paul will write of Christ: “He loved me and gave himself for me.”
The Scriptures had to be fulfilled. There were many messianic texts in the Old Testament which foreshadowed the sufferings of the future Anointed One of God. Among all these, particularly touching is the one which is commonly called the Fourth song of the Suffering servant, in the Book of Isaiah. The Song of the Suffering Servant contains a description in which it is possible, in a certain sense, to identify the stages of Christ’s passion in their various details: the arrest, the humiliation, the blows, the spitting, the contempt for the prisoner, the unjust sentence, and then the scourging, the crowning with thorns and the mocking, the carrying of the cross. the crucifixion and the agony. CONTINUED
Posted in Catholicism, encyclical, Philosophy, Popes, tagged beginner, Blessed JPII, Fides et Ratio, foundational moral principles, philosopher, philosophy, Pope John Paul II, right reason on February 15, 2012 | 1 Comment »
This post is the second in my series Reading The Popes: A Beginner Philosopher’s Thoughts on Fides et Ratio. You can view the first post in the series here.
Pope John Paul II believes that different schools of philosophy possess principles in accordance with a common “spiritual heritage of humanity”.
“Once reason successfully intuits and formulates the first universal principles of being and correctly draws from them conclusions which are coherent both logically and ethically, then it may be called right reason or, as the ancients called it, orthós logos, recta ratio.” PJII Fides et Ratio
I had an idea of what a foundational principle is but wasn’t quite sure what the difference between that and a premise is so he explained to me the difference between the two. JPII stated that the different philosophical schools of thought have an implicit understanding of basic foundational principles. I would add that, if you start out working from the wrong premise then it is almost impossible to end up with the correct answer or conclusion.
Blessed John Paul II emphasizes the need for philosophy to focus on absolute truths, to know the truth. Unfortunately modern philosophy has abandoned absolute truths for human knowing, which has given rise to agnosticism and relativism.
Posted in Catholicism, encyclical, Philosophy, Popes, tagged beginner, Blessed JPII, encyclical, faith, Fides et Ratio, knowing yourself, philosophy, Pope John Paul II on January 28, 2012 | 4 Comments »
About a month ago I decided that Fides et Ratio would be the next encylical that I would focus on in my “Reading The Popes” posts. Then as I started reading it I realized that the encyclical is philosophically very deep. I struggled with reading and commenting on Fides et Ratio from beginning to end so I finally ended up deciding to break up my “Reading The Popes” post of Fides et Ratio into several parts.
Here are the first few paragraphs of Fides et Ratio:
1. In both East and West, we may trace a journey which has led humanity down the centuries to meet and engage truth more and more deeply. It is a journey which has unfolded—as it must—within the horizon of personal self-consciousness: the more human beings know reality and the world, the more they know themselves in their uniqueness, with the question of the meaning of things and of their very existence becoming ever more pressing. This is why all that is the object of our knowledge becomes a part of our life. The admonition Know yourself was carved on the temple portal at Delphi, as testimony to a basic truth to be adopted as a minimal norm by those who seek to set themselves apart from the rest of creation as “human beings”, that is as those who “know themselves”.
Moreover, a cursory glance at ancient history shows clearly how in different parts of the world, with their different cultures, there arise at the same time the fundamental questions which pervade human life: Who am I? Where have I come from and where am I going? Why is there evil? What is there after this life? These are the questions which we find in the sacred writings of Israel, as also in the Veda and the Avesta; we find them in the writings of Confucius and Lao-Tze, and in the preaching of Tirthankara and Buddha; they appear in the poetry of Homer and in the tragedies of Euripides and Sophocles, as they do in the philosophical writings of Plato and Aristotle. They are questions which have their common source in the quest for meaning which has always compelled the human heart. In fact, the answer given to these questions decides the direction which people seek to give to their lives.
2. The Church is no stranger to this journey of discovery, nor could she ever be. From the moment when, through the Paschal Mystery, she received the gift of the ultimate truth about human life, the Church has made her pilgrim way along the paths of the world to proclaim that Jesus Christ is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). It is her duty to serve humanity in different ways, but one way in particular imposes a responsibility of a quite special kind: the diakonia of the truth.(1) This mission on the one hand makes the believing community a partner in humanity’s shared struggle to arrive at truth; (2) and on the other hand it obliges the believing community to proclaim the certitudes arrived at, albeit with a sense that every truth attained is but a step towards that fullness of truth which will appear with the final Revelation of God: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully” (1 Cor 13:12).
Here are my thoughts:
As I was reading Fides et Ratio I noticed that Blessed John Paul II had mentioned Aristotle so I searched the web using two criteria, “Aristotle” and “know yourself”. I found this quote by Aristotle which is intriguing to me: “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”.
At the moment of conception each of us was formed in the image and likeness of God. But knowing ourselves does not mean merely existing. Knowing ourselves is an ongoing, changing process over time.
There is more to us than flesh, bone, blood, and organs. As human persons we have souls which help to make up our very being. We must internally have a sense of who we are because if we don’t we become fragmented beings. We become like puzzle pieces that are jumbled up trying to find the correct pieces that go into the right spot.
We are all on a journey on knowing who we are so it is no wonder that many of us struggle in our faith from time to time. Or that we struggle with certain aspects of our faith at different points in our lifetime.
Posted in Catholicism, Popes, Terrorism, United States, tagged 9/11, against all humanity, attacks, evil, jihadists, Muslim extremists, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II, September 11, tragedy on September 10, 2011 | 1 Comment »
The former Ambassador to the Vatican reflects on how Pope John Paul II reacted to those horrific attacks and tragic events which took place on 9/11. “Pope John Paul II saw the September 11, 2001 terrorist atrocities as attacks not only on the United States, but on ‘all of humanity’ ”, recounts James R. Nicholson, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican. The Pope stated this to Nicholson “We must stop these people who kill in the name of God”. Nicholson also pointed out that though John Paul II was “first and foremost a man of peace,” he also understood the doctrine of just war and the responsibility of leaders to protect the innocent from evil forces.
Here is James Nicholson’s entire article on Pope John Paul II and 9/11:
Pope John Paul II, although a man of the Church, was possessed with an uncommon sense for the dynamics of globalism and the complexities of peoples and cultures.
My first one-on-one meeting with Pope John Paul II was on September 13, 2001. The occasion was the formal presentation of my diplomatic credentials as the new United States Ambassador to the Holy See. It was planned to be a festive occasion; instead, it was a sad event as the world was grieving the horrific events of just 48 hours prior.
The first thing the Pope said to me was how sorry he felt for my country, which had just been attacked, and how sad it made him feel. We next said a prayer together for the victims and their families.
Then the Pope said something very profound and very revealing of his acute grasp of international terrorism. He said, “Ambassador Nicholson, this was an attack, not just on the United States, but on all of humanity.” And, then he added, “We must stop these people who kill in the name of God.”
The Pope’s words about the attackers of America on 9/11, and our need, indeed our moral obligation “to do something” was invaluable to the U.S. in assembling a “Coalition of the Willing,” as President Bush called it. It was the Pope’s instant and keen grasp of the situation – the Afghanistan-based launching of these terrorist attacks — that compelled him to lend his moral influence to his friend and ally, the United States.
He knew exactly what he was saying and the effect it would have on the other countries who were trying to decide whether or not to join us as military partners in Afghanistan against Al Qaeda and its collaborators. The Pope didn’t pause, hesitate or equivocate when he communicated through me to our President and the leaders of like-minded countries to push back against those stateless terrorists who tried to align themselves under the protective wall of Afghanistan’s sovereignty.
Pope John Paul II grew up under the repressive regimes of both the Nazis and the Communists. He knew well the effects on freedom and dignity that those with an ideological agenda and matching military resources could wreak on innocent people.
The Pope had played a key role in what George Weigel call the “revolution of conscience” in Poland. He was instrumental in the demise of the Soviet Union and European Communism, and he was well practiced in the intricacies of using discreet moral force to influence international bodies.
Being first and foremost a man of peace, Pope John Paul II also understood the Just War doctrine of the Church and the responsibility of leaders to protect innocent people from evil forces. He respected President Bush and his “prudential judgment” in deciding what was legitimate to protect the common good.
In 2004, President Bush, with gratitude and respect for his solidarity with American values, presented the Pope with the Medal of Freedom, which is the highest award the United States bestows on a civilian.
Here is Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to Archbishop Dolan on the September 11th tenth anniversary:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
On this day my thoughts turn to the somber events. of September 11, 2001, when so many innocent lives were lost in the brutal assault on the twin towers of the World Trade
Center and the further attacks in Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. I join you in commending the thousands of victims to the infinite mercy of Almighty God and in asking our heavenly Father to continue to console those who mown the loss of loved ones .
The tragedy of that day is compounded by the perpetrators’ claim to be acting in God’s name. Once again, it must be unequivocally stated that no circumstances can ever justify acts of terrorism. Every human life is precious in God’s sight and no effort should be spared in the attempt to promote throughout the world a genuine respect for the inalienable rights and dignity of individuals and Peoples everywhere.
The American people are to be commended for the courage and generosity that they showed in the rescue operations and for their resilience in moving forward with hope and confidence. It is my fervent prayer that a firm commitment to justice and a global culture of solidarity will help rid the world of the grievances that so often give rise to acts of violence and will create the conditions for greater peace and prosperity, offering a brighter and more secure future.
With these sentiments, I extend my most affectionate greetings to you, your brother Bishops and all those entrusted to your pastoral care, and I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and serenity in the Lord.
We must never forget 9/11. Evil came to our shores like it had never before on September 11, 2001. We must always stand up to evil. The evil attacks that happened on 9/11 were an attack against all humanity for these terrorists attacks were against our freedom and liberty. My prayers go out to the families who are still grieving and missing loved ones who were lost on that fateful day.