Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Necessity of a Selfless Existence

I'm almost finished with Pope John Paul II's Crossing the Threshold of Hope. It's really a lovely book and has given me a much fuller understanding of Vatican II and the papacies of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. Here's one particularly lovely piece in answer to a question about human rights...

Therefore, these two aspects - the affirmation of the person as a person and the sincere gift of self - not only do not exclude each other, they mutually confirm and complete each other. Man affirms himself most completely by giving of himself. This is the fulfillment of the commandment of love. This is also the full truth about man, a truth that Christ taught us by His life, and that the tradition of Christian morality, no less than the tradition of saints and of the many heroes of love of neighbor, took up and lived out in the course of history.

If we deprive human freedom of this possibility, if man does not commit himself to becoming a gift for others, then this freedom can become dangerous. It will become freedom to do what I myself consider as good, what brings me a profit or pleasure, even a sublimated pleasure. If we cannot accept the prospect of giving ourselves as a gift, then the danger of a selfish freedom will always be present.... a complete expression of all this is already found in the Gospel. For this very reason, we can find in the Gospel a consistent declaration of all human rights, even those that for various reasons can make us feel uneasy.

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