Friday, June 6, 2014

Going Out to Everyone Without Fear

Giotto, Nativity of Jesus, Scrovegni chapel


What the Pope has at heart, therefore, is mission. “The New Evangelization is a renewed movement toward those who have lost the faith and a sense of the deep meaning of life. This dynamism is part of Christ’s great mission to bring life to the world, to bring the Father’s love to mankind. The Son of God “went forth” from His divine condition and came to meet us. The Church abides within this movement; every Christian is called to go out to meet others, to dialogue with those who do not think as we do, with those who have another faith or who have no faith. To encounter all, because what we all share in common is that we were created in the image and likeness of God. We can go out to everyone without fear and without renouncing our membership in the Church.”  Pope Francis quoted in the Spiritual Exercises of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, Fr. Julián Carrón

What a shy child I was! I was always hiding - even when I was all alone, I would climb under a table, behind the bed, into the crack between the sofa and the wall. Once I made a friend, though, I could allow myself to be a little more exposed, but two friends - even two good friends - or more would send me back to my hiding places: as I grew older, I carried these hiding places inside of me and I would retreat there and allow a persona or avatar or myself to jump into conversations and even sometimes become the life of the party.  But I would be tucked deep inside.  And it is this particular 'I' - the truth about myself and about my needs and desires that always remained hidden - precisely this 'I' that must go out to meet others if Christ is to be known.  This is because Christ only enters reality. By "only" I mean, he wants nothing to do with our personas and avatars, with our fantasies and our projects. Christ exists in reality, reality of what is, and the reality of who each on of us is. Christ is present wherever two or more "gather in His name", and one of His ineffable names is Reality. When the reality of who I am meets the reality of who you are, then Christ is present. To go forth, to go out can mean simply staying physically in place and speaking the truth. Not just any truth - though even 2+2=4 has great power - but the truth about myself, the real truth about myself: that my desires can sometimes bewilder me with their force, that I fail over and over to do simple things that are worthwhile, that my need is so great that it would be honest to say that I am, fundamentally, need.  When I am honest about my need, without the impertinence and the violent presumption of imagining that the other person was put on this planet to fulfill my need, when I am present as I really am, as need, with another who is also unafraid to be present as herself, then Christ makes Himself at home in us. This "image and likeness of God" is Infinity: God's Infinite substance and my own Infinite lack. 

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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."