Enrichment of Faith, pt. 2

Mammoser continues the explanation of enrichment of faith with a discussion of Wojtyla’s account of  consciousness. Wojtyla blends the attention to human capacity, subjectivity, with an awareness of human transcendence. The enrichment of faith is an expanded consciousness or appropriation of awareness of God. 

Consciousness is indispensable in the deepening of faith, but it has not been absolutized by Wojtyla.  He is careful to point out that consciousness must come to grips with something exterior to the person, namely faith (faith in God is faith in the Supremely Real),  but it does not ‘create’ faith.   Consciousness does not ‘create’ God . . . indeed just the opposite is true. True interiority is in fact man’s response to God. 

 The first conclusion we can draw is that enrichment of faith and the evangelization of culture are not strictly  human tasks to be implemented with ideas and  effort.  They cannot  come about strictly from within – they first requires response because they come from without, through revelation and through grace. God is the protagonist in the consciousness that embraces faith….he must first ‘re-veal’ himself.  And God will be the principal architect of cultural renewal,  awaiting of course the genuine interiority and magnanimity of lay people. 

Since God is [revealed as] Three Persons man finds his ‘basis’ and fully realizes his subjectivity not in self but in  relationship, in the mystery of the life of the Trinity.  Which is to say that man fully realizes himself only in communication (communio), in spiritual personhood, in relationship and in ‘gift of self’ analogous to the Trinitarian life itself.   “Man resembles God not only because of the spiritual nature of his immortal soul but also by reason of his social nature, if by this we understand the fact that ‘he cannot realize himself fully except in an act of pure self-giving.’ (Sources, p. 61)

George Weigel calls this self-giving “the law of the gift,” whereby one’s interior orientation is fundamentally a prayerful, outward, centrifugal relationship  towards God and others rather than to self.   “In this way  ‘union in truth and charity’ is the ultimate expression of the community of individuals.  This union merits the name of communion (communio), which signifies more than community (communitas).  The Latin communio denotes a relationship between persons that is proper to them alone; and it indicates the good that they do to one another, giving and receiving within that mutual relationship.” (Sources, p 61) Wojtyla continues: “Christ himself suggests to us this resemblance, or metaphysical analogy as we may call it, between God as person and community (i.e., the communion of Persons in the unity of the Godhead) on the one hand and, on the other, man as a person and his vocation toward the community ‘in truth and charity’ – a community founded on his right to realize himself through self-giving. How eloquent is the statement in Gaudium et Spes that ‘man is the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake’, as an end and not a means!” (Sources, p. 62) 

This right to realize oneself through self-giving explains why man is incomplete in solitude.  (Gen. 2:18). He requires– in all his subjectivity including that of his consciousness—to be in relationship.  As person, he requires not only ‘something else,’ but  ‘someone else.’  St. John’s gospel helps us understand who this ‘someone else’ is, and how to reach him.  “Jesus said to his disciples: “if anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my father will love him, and we shall come to him, and make our home with him.” (John 14:23-29)  In other writings Wojtyla calls this ‘someone’ a ‘partner of the Absolute.’  In his general audience of Oct. 24, 1979, for example, in his catechesis on Genesis, 2:18, notes that when God says “it is not good that man should be alone” he means not only that he needs a ‘helper’ which is provided in the creation of the first woman, but also, because he is constituted “in a unique, exclusive and unrepeatable relationship with God Himself, ” he needs a transcendent partner, a ‘partner of the Absolute.’ 

Maritain referred to Leon Bloy as a “pilgrim of the absolute.” It is very interesting that Wojtyla speaks about man as a partner of the absolute.” I also think of the Jeweler’s Shop, once again, and the ending — Theresa in speaking about young Christopher and Monica (and all couples) says they “reflect in some way the absolute Existence and Love.”Adam had just previously said “love carries people away like an absolute, although it lacks absolute dimensions.”The enrichment of faith opens us up to God, the absolute.

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