Saturday, May 07, 2005

More from the Ratzinger Report

Just wanted to jot down a few important quotes - and hope to add more comments later...
To return to christology: there are those who say that difficulties have arisen also because that reality which theology has called 'original sin' is forgotten or denied. Indeed some theologians have made their own the schema of an enlightenment a la Rousseau, with the dogma that lies at the base of modern culture - capitalist or marxist - that of the man good by nature who is corrupted only by false education and by social structures in need of reform. If one wants to change the 'system', everything must be properly ordered, and man could then live in peace with himself and with others.

His reply: 'If Providence will some day free me of my obligations, I should like to devote myself precisely to the theme of original sin and to the necessity of rediscovery of its authentic reality. In fact, if it is no longer understood that man is in a state of alienation (that is not only economic and social and, consequently, one that is not resolvable by his efforts alone), one no longer understands the necessity of Christ the Redeemer. The whole structure of the faith is threatened by this. The inability to understand original sin and to make it understandable is really one of the most difficult problems of present-day theology and pastoral ministry. (page 78-79)
for the Church the language of nature (in our case, two sexes complementary to each other yet quite distinct) is also the language of morality (man and woman called to equally noble destinies, both eternal, but different). (pgs. 97-98)
The correct Marian devotion guarantees to faith the coexistence of indispensable 'reason' with the equally indispensable 'reasons of the heart', as Pascal would say. For the Church, man is neither mere reason nor mere feeling, he is the unity of these two dimensions. The head must reflect with lucidity, but the heart must be able to feel warmth: devotion to Mary (which 'avoids every false exaggeration on the one hand, and excessive narrow-mindedness in the contemplation of the surpassing dignity of the Mother of God on the other', as the Council urges) thus assures the faith its full human dimension.(pg. 108)
It is necessary to rediscover the corporeal aspect of the Faith: abstention from food is one of those aspects. Sexuality and nourishment are among the fundamental elements of the physicality of man. In our time, the decline in the understanding of virginity goes hand in hand with the decline in the understanding of fasting. And these two declines have a single root: the present-day eclipse of the eschatalogical tension, that is, the tension of Christian faith toward eternal life. (pg. 113-114)

This makes so much sense to me on a practical level as well. Our will needs to be exercised in order to keep things like sexuality in check, given our fallen nature. The habit of fasting has the practical application of preparing and strengthening us to say "no" to ourselves in other places as well.
We have lost the sense that Christians cannot live just like 'everybody else.' The foolish idea according to which there is no specific Christian morality is only an expression of the loss of a basic concept: what is 'distinctively Christian' with respect to the models of the 'world.' Even in some religious orders and congregations true reform has been exchanged for the relaxtion of traditional austerity until then in practice. Renewal has been exchanged for comfort. (page 115)
It follows...that we must be far more resolute than heretofore in opposing rationalistic relativism, confusing claptrap and pastoral infantilism. These things degrade the liturgy to the level of a parish tea party and the intelligibility of the popular newspaper. (page 121)

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