Workshop (1) – Gaudium et spes 24.3

Throughout the workshop Dr. Waldstein humorously told the audience that he tells his class the answer to any question on the exam is “Gaudium et spes 24.3.” Well, it is not an automatic “A” — one must explain why GS 24.3 answers the question.

Here is the passage:

Indeed, the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, “that all may be one. . . as we are one” (John 17:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason, for He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God’s sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself. (see Luke 17.33)

In this passage  we find two key principles to Wojtyla’s personalism and his teaching on Theology of the Body (TOB). Waldstein refers to his kind of personalism as “Trinitarian personalism of self-gift.” (See previous post on talk at UST). The first principle is the “personalistic norm” — the call to treat each person as an end in himself, and not a means. It sounds Kantian, but it is not. Waldstein explains this very well in his text from the manuscript for a new book, Logos and Glory. The pages in the manuscript can be found here. (Please note: this is a working manuscript; it is not complete and it has some gaps; use it for your study but do not distribute it or send it around to people)

Here is Waldstein’s explanation of the difference between Wojtyla and Kant:

Wojtyła’s understanding of the personalistic norm is indeed “rather differ ent” from Kant’s. Being an end differs from having an end, being the highest good differs from being the beneficiary of the highest good, being God differs from having God. One is compatible with being a creature, the other is not. The cen- tral disagreement between Kant and Wojtyła lies here. It is closely connected with the question of the common good. According to John Paul II, the creat- ed person’s highest dignity consists in being able to participate in the goodness of God, supremely in the beatific vision. In this participation, the created per- son becomes “a sharer in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). Sharing and partici- pation is separated by an infinite gulf from becoming simply identical with God and being able to claim the status of being the final end.

The second principle is the call to love (make a sincere gift of himself), the dynamic of self-donation or the “law of free giving.”

Now it is interesting to see that the likeness to God is not the spiritual powers, the intellect and will, but it is the relational aspect, the unity of persons. The divine likeness contains both principles. Man finds himself through a gift of oneself, living in communion with another (spouse) with others (family). And the person as willed by God is not available for the mere use of another. (I add here even John Locke grasped a side of this truth — we are God’s workmanship, and therefore not for the use of another).

Waldstein recommended that we meditate on Luke 17:33-35 — whosoever will save his life must lose it; and to lose your life is to find it. There is an obvious connection to the cross. Waldstein collected the following scripture passages for us to consider:

Matt 10:39: The one who finds his life will lose it, and the one who loses his life for my sake will find it.
Matt 16:25: For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Mark 8:35: For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.
Luke 9:24: For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
Luke 17:33: Whoever seeks to make his life secure will lose it, but whoever loses it will make it live.
John 12:25: The one who loves his life loses it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

The two principles of personal dignity and gift of self extends throughout Wojtyla’s writings such as Love and Responsibility and Acting Person. The Theology of the Body will come into focus through an application of the principles to sexuality..

1 Comment
  1. That is such an important clarification made by Bl. John Paul, namely the affirmation that our likeness to God is found unity of persons. Surely, intellect and will are integral parts of the imago Dei but this image is not reducible to either of these. This understanding frees one from falling in to the traps of rationalism and/or voluntarism, since intellect and will are to enable the person to make a sincere gift of himself to an-other.

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