Monday, September 24, 2007

God's power revealed on a Monday morning

"Christianity," Fr. Luigi Giussani wrote, "is not born as the fruit of our culture or as the discovery of our intelligence." Neither does Christianity "communicate itself to the world as the fruit of modern or effective initiatives." How, then, is Christianity communicated to the world? According to Fr. Giussani, "God's power reveals itself in facts, events which constitute a new reality in the world, a living reality; in movement, and this in an exceptional and unforeseeable chronicle within the history of humanity and things."

The Church is how God "extends" Himself in space and time, "assimilating . . . persons and things". This extension of God, through Christ, via the Church "is the very basis of being" (The Journey to Truth Is an Experience, pgs. 87-88).

This speaks directly to the persistent temptation of seeking God somewhere other than the concrete circumstances of our lives, or always locating the Church as a living reality somewhere else and not in my poor parish, in my religious education class, in this Mass, in this parish gathering, among these weak, struggling people about whom I know so much and to whom I belong.

4 comments:

  1. Please forgive me if I am mixing my apples with your oranges but I can't help but make this comment (which might or might not be at odds with what you are saying).

    You speak beautifully of encountering God in the daily facts of our lives, in the people, places, and things that make up the motion of our lives.

    Last Sunday, our Archbishop in Seattle gave a homily during Mass and said something to the effect that any dummy can understand facts. Its in understanding ideas that the fruits of a true education manifest. Anyhow, I comment because it is a "fact" that I am taught to prefer "ideas" to facts.

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  2. David:

    You bring up an excellent point. Allow me one clarification before attempting a synthesis. Let's substitute fact with the objectivity of daily life. For example, today I had a slice of pizza for lunch, I attended a staff meeting, I went for a run, I am now home communicating via my blog. Where is God in all this? How have I made Christ present, or experienced Christ's presence in these concrete circumstances?

    To ask these questions, which is what Fr. Giussani proposes, is the synthesis. It is the marriage of our faith with our daily lives. Or, to stick with your terms, the synthesis of facts and ideas. There is no need to create a false dilemma.

    Facts and ideas are also like faith and reason. You can have one without the other and many people do. However, it is a disorienting disconnect that creates dissonance (sorry, I couldn't resist the alliteration). In other words, I experience my life objectively and I seek to make sense of my life experiences.

    As MacIntyre points out in his book After Virtue, facts need to be interpreted. Facts presnt themselves to us objectively. If you want to get really philosophical, facts present themselves at least intersubjectivly. We begin to make sense of facts, like reviewing our day, by creating links between facts, a sequence, series of causes and effects, etc. But beyond that, as human beings, we seek to make sense of what happens to us at a deeper level than merely sequential recall. We innately and automatically desire meaning, beauty, truth, goodness. These are ideas, according to the ancients, like Plato. These three transcendentals are properly eidos.

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  3. It would be incredibly exciting and fulfilling to experience what he is saying. A "living reality" that communicates the "very basis of being" with all facts assimilated into it. Its depressing that I and so many others don't experience it. If we did, then someone could simply point out to us: "that thing you're experiencing right now, that's Christianity!"

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  4. I think you're setting the bar too high and selling yourself short as a result. The desire you express is indicative of the reality you seek, which is a reality that exists. Of course, this reality does not exist perfectly or completely. Christ is Christianity, Christ is the reality, the event we encounter.

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