Friday, June 13, 2014

My Face in the World Today

Giotto, Baptism of Jesus, Scrovegni Chapel
Thus the gap between intention and experience has nothing to do with the gap between theory and application, but indicates that the content of awareness and of affection has de facto become another, regardless of ethical coherence or incoherence. It is as if without realizing it at times we have shifted, oriented our gaze elsewhere; we have become centered on something else (the essential has not been denied, but has been transformed into an a priori, a postulate in the back of our minds that does not define who we are, our personal identity and our face in the world today). We have seen this demonstrated particularly clearly at certain moments of our history, as we will see tomorrow. For now, let it suffice to recall what Fr. Giussani told us, and as we repeated in the Beginning Day: “the project had taken the place of presence,” 12 without our realizing it.   Spiritual Exercises of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, Fr. Julián Carrón
When I woke up this morning, I was so glad and grateful to be alive. Every morning it's the same. I am unable to wake up in the morning without saying, "You" to the one who makes me: "Thank you for another day, for more life." This is not because I am better than those who do not wake up with this thought. It's not a question of ethics or morality at all. My spontaneous gratitude is a direct result of the fact that I could have died - on several occasions. I don't know why I didn't die. I'm quite certain I would have died, had I not made a change, back in my early twenties. And I also know that the change could not have happened if I had needed to rely on my own strength. Psalm 18 is, essentially, the story of my life (except for the part about how righteous the psalmist is - I was far from good when he rescued me): "He set me free in the open; he rescued me because he loves me." This is my identity. To say anything else about me would be absurd. But sometimes I do forget that I am loved, that I am being made by Love. As my day goes on, I run into problems that I try to solve from a different vantage. I literally forget who I am, and I need to be reminded of who I am. And for this reason, I am so very blessed to have friends, to have you. So, thank you. 

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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."