Memory and Identity

Memory and Identity is one of the last books Blessed John Paul II wrote. It represents some of the most profound meditations he offered on history, politics, evil, redemption, Vatican II, and modern philosophy. It echoes his homily from his first Papal visit to Warsaw. The ultimate root of evil is the exclusion of God from history and specifically the exclusion of Christ from history.

Pope John Paul II gave one of his most inspired and impassioned speeches during a homily at Victory Square in Warsaw when he returned to Poland as Pope in 1979. (The homily may be found here; a documentary may be found here.)

In Memory and Identity John Paul II references this homily (p. 15) as a statement of the fundamental and most important limit to evil, namely the presence of Christ. To exclude Christ is make ourselves vulnerable to the power of evil. John Paul II saw Christ excluded on a daily basis by totalitarian ideologies and he feared the creeping exclusion of Chris in the west by liberal ideology. Let’s look at few passages from the important homily.

In this homily he said: “To
Poland the Church brought Christ,
the key
to understanding that great

and
fundamental
reality
that
is

man.
For

man
cannot be fully understood without Christ. Or rather, man is incapable
of
understanding himself fully without Christ. He cannot understand who he
is,
nor what his true dignity is, nor what his vocation is, nor what his
final
end is. He cannot understand any of this without Christ.


Therefore Christ cannot be kept out of the history of man in
any part of the globe, at any longitude or latitude of geography. The
exclusion
of Christ from the history of man is an act against man. Without Christ
it
is impossible to understand the history of Poland, especially the
history
of the people who have passed or are passing through this land. The
history
of people. The history of the nation is above all the history of
people. And
the history of each person unfolds in Jesus Christ. In him it becomes
the
history of salvation.”

“The
history of the nation deserves to be adequately appraised in the light
of
its contribution
to the development of man and humanity,

to
intellect, heart and conscience. This is the deepest stream of culture.
It
is culture’s firmest support, its core, its strength. It is impossible
without Christ to understand and appraise the contribution of the
Polish
nation
to the development of man and his humanity
in the
past and its contribution today.”

This homily serves as a very nice context and focus for a reading of the book..

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