Tuesday, March 17, 2009

To the heart of the problem

Fr. Julian Carron

A MERCY CHALLENGING US
Avvenire
14 March 2009

The first striking fact is that the Pope should have felt the need to write such a letter, full of pain at the incomprehension – not so much of outsiders, but of Catholics. It is something extraordinary in recent history, as far as I remember, and a sign of the fact that we haven’t understood an action that, as the letter shows, was totally reasonable.

In its simplicity, it was an act of mercy for a part of the faithful entrusted to the Pope’s fatherly care as universal shepherd of the Church, which acquires its importance in the face of the stiffening of those who criticize it, including those to whom it was addressed. This act places the Christian scandal before the world. When you read the letter, it is difficult for the words of Jesus not to come to mind: “Blessed is he who does not take scandal at me,” addressed to those who were angered because he ate with tax-collectors and sinners. Mercy, the unequivocal act of God, continues to scandalize as it did in the beginning. It is a pity that this should happen even amongst those who belong to the people of the redeemed, in other words, amongst those who were the first to be the object of unlimited mercy.

Those who think Benedict XVI has confirmed his addressees in their position are quite mistaken. His action constitutes the greatest challenge they have ever faced. Only mercy challenges our hard-headedness like no other reprimand. Jesus said that he who is forgiven much, loves much. Man is sensitive to no other gesture as he is to mercy. After all, it was the method Jesus used, as St. Paul recalls, “When we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The Pope’s letter affirms that “the overriding priority is to make God present in this world,” an incarnate God whose name is “mercy,” who shows himself by means of the “unity of the believers.”

This letter has a “breath” for which we cannot but thank the Pope, all the more as we see increasing the rigidity of those who reduce Christian life to a stifling moralism. Nothing, more than a letter like this, makes me proud of belonging to the Church, full of confidence that should I myself go wrong I will be treated with the same mercy.

Julián Carrón

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Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."