Rome, Italy, Feb 15, 2015 / 05:05 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Theological giants Benedict XVI and one of his heroes –
the controversial Cardinal Jean Danielou – have been hailed for illuminating through their respective works the ever-relevant answer to a modern world in crisis: Jesus Christ.
“If you want to be modern, you have to look at Jesus,” Rome-based theology professor Father Giulio Maspero told CNA Feb. 13.
And through the writings of the late French cardinal in particular, he noted, the Christian claim in today's world is infinitely superior “than what you can find by thinking that everything is relative.”
Fr. Maspero, a professor in Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical University of Santa Croce in Rome, helped to organize a Feb. 12-13 conference titled: “Study days: Danielou-Ratzinger before the Mystery of History.”
Held at the University of Santa Croce, the conference explored the great continuity between Cardinal Danielou and Benedict XVI, who are both known for placing a historical frame around their theological writings.
Originally from Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, Cardinal Danielou was a Jesuit, and is considered one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century. He is known for his clarity in explaining profound concepts in a comprehensible way for the unlearned reader.
Danielou was highly criticized following the Second Vatican Council, a false interpretation of which he faulted for the crisis in religious life and the increase in secularization which ensued.
In a controversial interview with Vatican Radio in 1972, the cardinal stressed that “Vatican II declared that human values must be taken seriously. It never said that we should enter into a secularized world in the sense that the religious dimension would no longer be present in society.”
“It is in the name of a false secularization that men and women are renouncing their habits, abandoning their works in order to take their places in secular institutions, substituting social and political activities for the worship of God,” he said.
Cardinal Danielou also faulted “a false conception of freedom” that devalued religious constitutions and “an erroneous conception of the changing of man and the Church” for many of the crisis that unfolded after the Vatican council.
However, despite the criticism directed at the French cardinal, then-Bishop Josef Ratzinger was an avid supporter of Danielou, and placed great value on his stance and writings.
The two maintain numerous similarities in their theological writings, beginning with their historical gaze at theology, their emphasis on scripture and turning to the Church Fathers.
Danielou and now-retired pope Benedict XVI, or “Father Benedict” as he wishes to be called, also place a great emphasis on the liturgy and, perhaps most importantly, the idea of mission.
“In one word I can say that for them the meaning of our world is Christ,” Fr. Maspero said.
For them, “if you read the Gospel, if you pray, if you go to church and receive the sacraments, your sight changes and you are able to see that below the surface there is the presence of God, of Jesus Christ not only in the time we are living but also within the matter we are living with,” the priest said.
Because of the emphasis that both place on the relationship between being and history, they are “very modern” in the sense that they address one of the key concerns in contemporary society.
In the midst of a world in crisis where man is searching and can’t seem to find what he is looking for, Danielou and Benedict XVI step into the middle of “this puzzle” with the answers provided by scripture, which are enlightened by the Church Fathers.
“What they wrote is wonderful and I think it can show a way out of this crisis situation that we are living in now,” Fr. Maspero said, noting how both dug into the past with the goal of finding meaning for their present time.
One contemporary issue the theologians can shed light on is that of homosexuality, the priest said, pointing specifically to Cardinal Daneilou – whose brother, Alain, was a prominent Buddhist and gay author.
“This is the typical point where we can see the crisis of our time because we are not able to manage differences. We have tried to find a solution saying ‘ok, we have no differences,’ but you always have differences,” Fr. Maspero explained.
“If you have homosexuality, you have to manage the difference between homosexual and heterosexual. You cannot erase all the differences.”
Both of the theologians found the solution to the problem of differences by looking to the way Jesus dealt with them in the Gospels, the priest noted, saying that before doing anything else Christ accepted the people who came to him.
Cardinal Danielou embodied this in the way that he encountered his brother. After finding out that Alain was same-sex attracted, his shocked family threw him out, and they went through a lot of suffering, the priest observed.
However, Cardinal Danielou had the opposite reaction and dedicated his life to praying for his brother, and accepted his different ideas while remaining open to him. Alain, Fr. Maspero said, “recognized this love of his brother.”
“We are living in the world where everybody has the perception that they must change in order to be ‘right,’ (but) Jesus’ answer is that you are right just as you are, because you are mine, because I created you,” the priest explained.
Jesus Christ, he said, “told us to love everybody, so I think it’s a big problem now when we are talking about Catholicism that the topics of homosexuality (and) abortion are just moral topics.”
Although we are all sinners, we are all “right” by nature because we have been created in the image of God, he noted, and stressed that because of this a homosexual person can never be considered a problem.
In the priest's view, the problem lies with today's gay rights movement at large, as he believes it reduces the individual to a definition. “Life is more complex.”
“We have to learn from each other and at the same time to keep our ideas,” Fr. Maspero said, adding that we have been given the freedom to maintain different beliefs, which must be accepted with respect for the other person.
Each person has the freedom to believe there is a wrong way of doing things and to promote a different method, he said, stressing that the Church, in her teachings, “is not imposing a behavior on anybody.”
People, the priest said, should believe what they want, but emphasized that “there is a truth,” and history will tell who was right and who was wrong.
One of the reasons why Cardinal Jean Denielou is so little known outside the French Catholic circles is because he died suddenly, of a heart attack, while visiting the house of a prostitute. The fact was used by the French secular press to imply the “hypocrisy” of the Jesuit’s moral life.
Alain, as famous an author in the Agnostic circles as his brother was in the Catholic one, wrote after the death of the French Cardinal:
“His death and the scandal provoked by it, when he had become one of the leading figures of the Church, was a sort of posthumous vendetta, one of those favors that the gods bestow on those whom they love. If he had died just a little while sooner or later, or if he had been visiting a lady of the sixteenth arrondissement (an expensive neighborhood in Paris) under the pretext of works of charity, instead of bringing the revenue of his theological writings to a poor and needy woman, there would have been no scandal.”
“Jean had always dedicated himself to disregarded people. For a certain period he had celebrated a Mass for the sake of homosexuals. He tried to help prisoners, criminals, troubled young people, prostitutes. I deeply admired this ending of life similar to that of the martyrs, whose fragrance rises to heaven amid the opprobrium and sarcasm of the crowd.”
According to Vatican analyst Sandro Magister, since 2012, when the first conference on Jean Danielou was held in Rome, “the quarantine has ended for this Cardinal.”
ADVENT WITH POPE BENEDICT
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
St Peter's Basilica
Saturday, 1st December 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Advent is, par excellence, the season of hope. Every year this basic spiritual attitude is reawakened in the hearts of Christians, who, while they prepare to celebrate the great Feast of Christ the Saviour's Birth, revive the expectation of his glorious second coming at the end of time. The first part of Advent insists precisely on the parousia, the final coming of the Lord. The antiphons of these First Vespers are all oriented, with different nuances, to this perspective. The short Reading from the First Letter to the Thessalonians (5: 23-34) refers explicitly to the final coming of Christ using precisely the Greek term parousia (cf. v. 23). The Apostle urges Christians to keep themselves sound and blameless, but above all encourages them to trust in God, who "is faithful" (v. 24) and will not fail to bring about this sanctification in all who respond to his grace.
This entire Vespers liturgy is an invitation to hope, pointing on the horizon of history to the light of the Saviour who comes: "on that day a great light will appear" (Antiphon 2); "the Lord will come with great might" (Antiphon 3); "his splendour fills the whole world" (Magnificat Antiphon). This light, which shines from the future of God, was already manifest in the fullness of time; therefore, our hope does not lack a foundation but is supported by an event situated in history, which at the same time exceeds history: the event constituted by Jesus of Nazareth. The Evangelist John applies to Jesus the title of "light": it is a title that belongs to God. Indeed, in the Creed we profess that Jesus Christ is "God from God, Light from Light".
I wanted to dedicate my second Encyclical, which was published yesterday, to the theme of hope. I am pleased to offer it in spirit to the entire Church on this First Sunday of Advent, so that, during preparation for Holy Christmas, the communities and individual faithful can read and meditate upon it to rediscover the beauty and depth of Christian hope. This, in fact, is inseparably bound to knowledge of the Face of God, the Face which Jesus, the Only-Begotten Son, revealed to us with his Incarnation, his earthly life and his preaching, and especially with his death and Resurrection. True and steadfast hope is founded on faith in God Love, the Merciful Father who "so loved the world that he gave his Only Son" (Jn 3: 16), so that men and women and with them all creatures might have life in abundance (cf. Jn 10: 10). Advent, therefore, is a favourable time for the rediscovery of a hope that is not vague and deceptive but certain and reliable, because it is "anchored" in Christ, God made man, the rock of our salvation.
From the outset, as becomes clear in the New Testament and especially in the Letters of the Apostles, a new hope distinguishes Christians from those who live in pagan religiosity. In writing to the Ephesians, St Paul reminds them that before embracing faith in Christ, they had "no hope and [were] without God in the world" (2: 12). This appears an especially apt description for the paganism of our day: in particular, we might compare it with the contemporary nihilism that corrodes the hope in man's heart, inducing him to think that within and around him nothingness prevails: nothing before birth and nothing after death. In fact, if God is lacking, hope is lacking. Everything loses its "substance". It is as if the dimension of depth were missing and everything were flattened out and deprived of its symbolic relief, its "projection" in comparison with mere materiality. At stake is the relationship between existence here and now and what we call the "hereafter": this is not a place in which we end up after death; on the contrary, it is the reality of God, the fullness of life towards which every human being is, as it were, leaning. God responded to this human expectation in Christ with the gift of hope.
Man is the one creature free to say "yes" or "no" to eternity, that is, to God. The human being is able to extinguish hope within him, eliminating God from his life. How can this be? How can it happen that the creature "made for God", intimately oriented to him, the creature closest to the Eternal One, can deprive himself of this richness? God knows the human heart. He knows that those who reject him have not recognized his true Face, and so he never ceases to knock at our door like a humble pilgrim in search of hospitality. This is why the Lord grants humanity new time: so that everyone may manage to know him! This is also the meaning of a new liturgical year which is beginning: it is a gift of God, who once again wishes to reveal himself to us in the mystery of Christ, through the Word and the Sacraments. He wants to speak to humanity and to save the people of today through the Church. And he does so by going out to meet them in order "to seek and to save the lost" (Lk 19: 10). In this perspective, the celebration of Advent is the answer of the Church-Bride to the ever new initiative of God the Bridegroom, "who is and who was and who is to come" (Rv 1: 8). God offers to humanity, which no longer has time for him, further time, a new space in which to withdraw into itself in order to set out anew on a journey to rediscover the meaning of hope.
Here, then, is the surprising discovery: my, our hope is preceded by the expectation which God cultivates in our regard! Yes, God loves us and for this very reason expects that we return to him, that we open our hearts to his love, that we place our hands in his and remember that we are his children. This attitude of God always precedes our hope, exactly as his love always reaches us first (cf. I Jn 4: 10). In this sense Christian hope is called "theological": God is its source, support and end. What a great consolation there is in this mystery! My Creator has instilled in my spirit a reflection of his desire of life for all. Every person is called to hope, responding to the expectations that God has of him. Moreover, experience shows us that it is exactly like this. What keeps the world going other than God's trust in humankind? It is a trust reflected in the hearts of the lowly, the humble, when they strive daily to do their best through difficulties and labours, to do that little bit of good which is nonetheless great in God's eyes: in the family, in the work place, at school, in the various social contexts. Hope is indelibly engraved in the human heart because God our Father is life, and for eternal life and beatitude we are made.
Every child born is a sign of trust in God and man and a confirmation, at least implicit, of the hope in a future open to God's eternity that is nourished by men and women. God has responded to this human hope, concealing himself in time as a tiny human being. St Augustine wrote: "We might have thought that your Word was far distant from union with man, if this Word had not become flesh and dwelt among us" (Conf. X, 43, 69, cited in Spe Salvi, n. 29). Thus, let us allow ourselves to be guided by the One who in her heart and in her womb bore the Incarnate Word. O Mary, Virgin of expectation and Mother of hope, revive the spirit of Advent in your entire Church, so that all humanity may start out anew on the journey towards Bethlehem, from which it came, and that the Sun that dawns upon us from on high will come once again to visit us (cf. Lk 1: 78), Christ our God. Amen.
© Copyright 2007 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
ADVENT WITH FR JEAN DANIELOU
"Without a doubt the master-key to Christian theology, which distinguishes it utterly from all rational theodicy," the French Jesuit Jean Daniélou (1905-74) wrote in God and the Ways of Knowing, "is contained in the statement that the Trinity of Persons constitutes the structure of Being, and that love is therefore as primary as existence." This "master-key" was the object of study and love for Daniélou, whose scholarly and popular writings contemplated the depths of Trinitarian love and its salvific work in human history. (my source: Carl Olsen)
From the writngs of Cardinal Jean Danielou, S.J. (Le Mystere de L’avent, 126-126-128)
my source:Dom Donald's Blog
Who is yet to come?
The mystery which we are now living in the world is the mystery of Christ’s gradual coming to every soul and every nation. Christ has indeed come, but he remains always the one who is yet to come. Come he has, but not completely. Thouh the expectation of Israel has been fulfilled, Israel is still waiting. We are for ever in the season of Advent, awaiting the coming of the Messiah. The Messiah has come, but he is not yet fully manifested either in our individual souls or in the human race as a whole. Just as Jesus was born according to the flesh in Bethlehem of Judea, so he must be born according to the spirit in the soul of each one of us. The whole mystery of the spiritual life lies in the continual birth of Jesus within us. We must be always transforming ourselves into him, making our own the sentiments of his heart and the judgments of his mind. To be a Christian means to be gradually changed into Christ so as to be truly children of the Father.
. Similarly in regard to humankind as a whole, Jesus has not yet fully come. He has come to some peoples, but not to all. In some parts of the human race Jesus is still unborn. The mystical Christ is not yet complete; he is still imperfect, lacking members. Therefore the Church's missionary prayer is for the coming of Christ to the whole world, so that his body may attain its full stature.
Now what is true of the preparation for the coming of Christ in the flesh is also true of the spiritual preparation for his coming to our souls, and the preparation for his spiritual coming in his entire mystical body, for God's plan is an integral whole. And just as Mary played an important and altogether special role in the physical birth of Jesus, since she gave him the flesh in which he was born (here we touch the heart of the mystery of the Virgin), so Mary continues to play an important role in the preparation of each subsequent coming of Jesus. She is always
present wherever he is to come.
This applies in the first place to the souls of each one of us. We may truly say that Mary has a special part to play in our spiritual lives, because it is she who prepares for the coming of Jesus in us and who gradually forms him in our souls. But as well as her relationship to individuals, Mary also has a part to play in the coming of Christ to the peoples whom he has not yet reached. Here we touch upon the missionary aspect of the mystery of Mary. The mystery of our Lady is that she was there before Jesus was. She was in Israel before him. In her, if one may so express it, there was already a secret presence of Jesus in Israel before his actual birth, since she was already perfectly united with him and there was no part of her life that was not wholly his. She was present, then, during the time before the incarnation, and so, since she is a figure of the Church, of humankind redeemed by Christ, it seems as if in some way the Church must have existed before even Jesus was born. We can see, then, the part our Lady is to play among pagan peoples: the Church has not come to them, Jesus has not yet come to them, yet the Church is there, because Mary is there.
Responsory Lk 1:45-46; Ps 66:16
Blessed are you who have believed that the Lord's promises to you would be fulfilled. And Mary said: + My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.
V. Come, and listen, and I will tell what great things God has done in me. + My soul proclaims, ..
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