Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Freedom's waiting for you

Writing of the time when he first came into contact with the so-called New Movements, like Comunion & Liberation, Focolare, etc., then-Cardinal Ratzinger, in a 1998 article for Communio described that time, "The early 1970s," as "a time when Karl Rahner and others were speaking of a winter in the Church."

"And it did seem," he continued, "that, after the great blossoming of the Council, frost was creeping instead of springtime, and that exhaustion was replacing dynamism. The dynamism now seemed to be somewhere else entirely-where people, relying on their own strength and without resorting to God, were setting about creating a better world of the future. That a world without God could not be good, let alone a better world, was obvious to anyone who had eyes to see." This prompted him to ask, "But where was God in all this? Had not the Church in fact become worn-out and dispirited after so many debates and so much searching for new structures?"

"What Rahner was saying was perfectly understandable. It put into words an experience that we were all having." Then, all of a sudden, "here was something that no one had planned. Here the Holy Spirit himself had, so to speak, taken the floor. The faith was reawakening precisely among the young, who embraced it without ifs, ands, or buts, without escape hatches and loopholes, and who experienced it in its totality as a precious, life-giving gift. To be sure, many people felt that this interfered with their intellectual discussions or their models for redesigning a completely different Church in their own image-how could it be otherwise?"

"Every irruption of the Holy Spirit always upsets human plans."

In his book At the Origin of the Christian Claim, Msgr. Luigi Giussani, the founder of Communion & Liberation, wrote:

"Jesus Christ did not come into the world as a substitute for human freedom or to eliminate human trial. He came into the world to call man back to the depths of all questions, to his own fundamental structure, to his own real situation. He came to call man back to true religiosity, without which every claim to a solution of the human problems is a lie."

For most utopians, especially the religious ones, like those described by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, freedom is either not a value, or is misunderstood as the multiplication of choices. In either case it is cut-off from truth, thus freedom is turned into an end in itself. As Green Day sang: "At the center of the earth is the parking lot of the 7-11 where I was taught the motto was just a lie." Of course the motto referenced in the song is: "At your 7-11, freedom’s waiting for you."

I remember an episode of Beavis and Butthead when, looking through the window of a 7-11-like convenience store, Butthead says to Beavis- "Everything I ever wanted is behind this window." Talk about narrowing the scope of human desire! Can we say that desire connects freedom to truth, even if often by an indirect course?

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