Thursday, August 11, 2005

Finally, I've Found It! Ratzinger at Subiaco

A few months back, I spoke to various folks about a lecture then-Cardinal Ratzinger gave at a Benedictine monastery--actually, one of "the" Benedictine monasteries. He gave the talk the day before Pope John Paul the Great passed away. Reading it is utterly striking, considering the events that transpired in the ensuing days, culminating of course with his election to the papacy.

Well, I have finally found it, thanks to author Michael O'Brien. More like O'Brien sent out a mass email with the talk linked.

Europe’s Crisis of Culture

by Cardinal Josef Ratzinger

A translation of the lecture given in Italian by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XIV, in the convent of Saint Scholastica in Subiaco, Italy, the day before Pope John Paul II died. This lecture took place April 1, when he received the St. Benedict Award for the promotion of life and the family in Europe. (Translation by the Rome-based Catholic news agency

We are living in a time of great dangers and great opportunities for man and the world; a time which is also of great responsibility for us all. During the past century man's possibilities and his dominion over matter grew by truly unthinkable measures. However, his power to dispose of the world has been such as to allow his capacity for destruction to reach dimensions which at times horrify us. In this connection, the threat of terrorism comes spontaneously to mind, this new war without boundaries or fronts.

He further introduces aspects of this theme, then he deals with such topics as "A new moralism," "Godless society," "Culture of rights," "Universal culture?," "Knowing is doing," "Removing God," "The Permanent Significance of the Christian Faith," "'As if God existed,'" and then he concludes:

Above all, that of which we are in need at this moment in history are men who, through an enlightened and lived faith, render God credible in this world. The negative testimony of Christians who speak about God and live against him, has darkened God's image and opened the door to disbelief. We need men who have their gaze directed to God, to understand true humanity. We need men whose intellects are enlightened by the light of God, and whose hearts God opens, so that their intellects can speak to the intellects of others, and so that their hearts are able to open up to the hearts of others.

Only through men who have been touched by God, can God come near to men. We need men like Benedict of Norcia, who at a time of dissipation and decadence, plunged into the most profound solitude, succeeding, after all the purifications he had to suffer, to ascend again to the light, to return and to found Montecasino, the city on the mountain that, with so many ruins, gathered together the forces from which a new world was formed.

In this way Benedict, like Abraham, became the father of many nations. The recommendations to his monks presented at the end of his "Rule" are guidelines that show us also the way that leads on high, beyond the crisis and the ruins.

"Just as there is a bitter zeal that removes one from God and leads to hell, so there is a good zeal that removes one from vices and leads to God and to eternal life. It is in this zeal that monks must exercise themselves with most ardent love: May they outdo one another in rendering each other honor, may they support, in turn, with utmost patience their physical and moral infirmities . . . May they love one another with fraternal affection . . . Fear God in love . . . Put absolutely nothing before Christ who will be able to lead all to eternal life" (Chapter 72).

Go check it out here.


Over A. Barrel said...

All this God talk is pure nonsense. Where do you go when you die? To the same place all living things go: back to the chemical elements you are made of (at the time of death). How can all religions be correct when they contradict each other. In fact, all religions are based on falsehoods such as the existence of a creator or God. Are you going to go through your whole life believing a bunch of nonscientific religious drivel? God and religion are a perverted delusion of non-reality. Get with the real world, man. Save yourself a life of absolute BS.

Anonymous said...

"W"'s posts continue to sound like they are written by a narrow-minded, narcosistic, bigot. Or should I say, a true conservative Republican. Yes, get with the real world, man.

W. said...

To Anonymous,

Are your arguments that shallow and weak that all you can do is call your apparent opponent names? You would sound much more serious and possibly even right if you dealt with the arguments and made your case without resorting to name-calling. But then that would mean you would have to have a rational case to make, which from all your comments does not seem to be the fact of the matter.

W. said...

To Over A. Barrel,

"How can all religions be correct when they contradict each other."

All religions are not correct. No Christian, as well as many other believers, would say such a thing. There may be, and I believe there are, truths expressed by more than one religion, such as it is wrong to intend to kill innocent persons. Religions do contradict each other at times. When they do, at least one of them is wrong. Perhaps all of them on that issue. As a Christian, I do not believe the Christian religion is wrong. I believe it is true. I believe there are aspects of other religions that are true and aspects of other religions that are wrong. Some of those areas are open to debate; some of them are matters of faith, and thus debate will only take us so far.

"In fact, all religions are based on falsehoods such as the existence of a creator or God."

That is quite a claim of certainty. Can you prove that God does not exist? I thought not. Can you demonstrate that the claim that God exists is a falsehood? I thought not. It is impossible. It may be that you do not accept the arguments for God's existence. Fine. But that does not mean the claim that God exists is wrong, a falsehood, or any other such conclusion.

"Are you going to go through your whole life believing a bunch of nonscientific religious drivel?"

Yes, of course. However, I do not regard it as drivel. And 2, Christian claims are not nor have they ever been scientifically shown to be false. I am not saying, keep this in mind, that they have been proven or demonstrated according to scientific standards. That is a misapplication of methods. Science cannot make conclusive statements about matters that are in themselves aspects of faith. Those are two different realms of being and thus two different realms of knowledge.

A question for you: And are you going to go through your life believing, yes, believing, that science is the only form of inquiry that can result in knowledge?

Science is good for what it is intended to evaluate and measure. But it cannot be used to analyze everything. Love, emotions, trust, risk, play, faith, anger, thought, and so on. Science cannot completely measure and evaluate these because science is limited in its scope. It is limited to certain types of phenomenon and must step aside when deeper realities and experiences are attempted to be known and understood.

Over A. Barrel said...

"Can you prove that God does not exist?"

That is not a serious question, William. If you are asserting the existence of something, then it is up to you to provide your evidence or proof for it. If I assert to you that there are blue moggies on mars that influence the tides on earth, I ought to be able to back it up with some data, or you will rightly conclude that I'm off my rocker. You will never, so long as you live, be able to prove the existence of God or intelligent design or anything mythical like that. For the simple reason that it is not science, but rather mythology, superstition or as I like to say, "a lot of hooey."

I repeat my question to you, Are you going to spend your entire life worshipping a made-up idol like Jesus? You need to get over your fear of death, William. There is nothing you can do about it, and believing in religion only means that you are wasting your life in a hopeless, worthless pursuit.

W. said...

Actually, it is a serious question in the sense that it takes issue with something you said.

I do not have to prove anything. I may choose to dialogue with you about the arguments for God's existence. However, I do not think they are what convinces someone to posit His existence.

I am not sure what your definition of "myth" is, but it seems we think of it differently. Which, actually, is fine with me. I would rather have clarity of terms than arguing different points.

That said, I do not think intelligent design is mythical. Depending on definition of "myth," religion can be a myth. And, as C.S. Lewis said, the Christian myth is just the one that is true. Is true in the myth portion not just the underlying meaning as with other myths.

Is science the only thing that is provable? If so, we have a much deeper and metaphysical disagreement, one that if not reconciled in some way means that our other points probably will never be resolved (or us coming to any agreement).

I think there is more to reality than the physical and material. Do you?

If not, then that limited worldview means there is so much in our experience that your view cannot account for and may even discredit to some form of psychological/emotional/psychosomatic/sub-conscious will.

If you do think there is more to reality than the physical and material, then how do you analyze, understand, evaluate those realities? Science cannot measure them. Philosophy claims to. Theology claims to. Even literature attempts to describe and illustrate them. They may be wrong, but I do not think so. I actually think they are expressive of realities that are real and help make the universe "make sense."

So, to answer your final question, yes, I am going to spend my life worshiping Jesus. I am at least going to try doing that. I do not think he is made-up in the sense you mean. And, moreover, I find it interesting that you think I fear death. I don't. It is actually the atheists, agnostics, and yes the unsure Christians that I know who do fear death. They are worried about nothingness, about a lasting legacy, about what their life will therefore mean, about finding meaning, and many other concerns that would seem to be appropriate if there is no afterlife.

I, on the other hand, do not fear death. I do not want it to come today, but if it does, then so be it. "Amen." I believe I might be in a much better state of existence with a much deeper and everlasting joy than anything I could imagine here on earth. Christians, you will find, when they hold to what they say they believe, should not fear death. We fear living apart from Christ much more. We fear sinning much more. And yet, when we do sin, it is in a way a happy fault because God affords us His forgiveness and grace to grow and be more closely to Him.

The non-believer does not have this solace.

What if He does not exist? Is my life's pursuit worthless and a waste? I think not. Even if my faith is not in something real, then at least I am psychologically happy (if not ontologically) and confident and finding meaning and purpose in the things I do. I am doing things, finding meaning, and then experiencing a joy and happiness that is only possible with living my life this way. So, even if my faith is not in something real, it at least impels me to live in a way that is very fulfilling, psychologically gratifying and meaningful, and thus filled with happiness.

Others who don't believe may have this similar experience in their lives, but then they might not. I am not sure. I just know that I am happy and am living a life I would not trade with anyone.

Can you or the atheist say the same? Perhaps. If so, good to you. If not, find some meaning and purpose and thus happiness in life.

Curious: why does my faith bother you so much that you write such critical comments about something that I would think does not affect you at all?

Seemingly, you do not even know me. Why care? If you are right, why care? Why bother? In a world with no God, what worth am I? in myself, to God, and to you?

Kathy Carroll said...

As St. Thomas Aquinas so astutely observed, "To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible."

See Matt 7:6, also Matt 5:10-12. Then let "Over a Barrel" roll away.

W., I've asked Roman Catholic Blog to visit your site and add you to their Codex of Catholic Blogs. You truly belong there.


Over A. Barrel said...

William, it seems that Kathy is a fellow-traveller of yours. People who quote bible passages to defend their arguments are weak in the debating department in my humble opinion.

William, I want to save your soul from being misspent in false endeavours while you're here on earth, for when you die your soul is kaput just like your corpse will be. If you'd rather I work on Kathy's earthbound soul just let me know. But frankly, I think Kathy's soul is too far gone for remediation from what she's said already. But hope springs eternal and I hope I'm wrong about her being a stick-in-the-mud, and right that you can still be reformed.

Kathy, my quote in response to your silly quote is the following:

Religion is the opiate of the masses.
Karl Marx, Urban Dictionary, under "Religion."
German economist & Communist political philosopher (1818 - 1883)

Why do evangelicals go to revival meetings so often? My guess is that they get excited or a high from the religious performances, music, rituals. They usually work themselves into a real frenzy. In so far as this high is produced without drugs or alcohol then I suppose it is better for society. But it is pure farce, don't you agree?

William, I think you deserve a more complete answer to statements and queries. I'll give it to you next week by e-mail unless you want me to roll away like Kathy does. I'm different from your typical Christian proselytizer, I give up if I see that the person is beyond reasoning with.

Over A. Barrel said...

P.S. William, I know that you are a stickler for defining one's terms. My use of the word "soul" is of the nonreligious variety, to wit:
-a person's moral or emotional nature or sense of identity.
(Oxford Dictionary of English)

Over A. Barrel said...

"To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible."

I suppose I should explain why I think the above quote is asinine, although it is quite tedious to do so. The first part seems to impart the idea that faith is something wonderful in itself, that people who take the existence of God as not requiring any evidence somehow have greater spiritual capacity thus superiority over an atheist. To me, believing phantasmic things without a shred of scientific evidence is an inferior, irrational way to exist as a human being. The second part of Aquinas's quote is simply not true. An explanation IS possible for the existence of a deity if there were an iota of evidence for her, but rationally there isn't.

As far as disproving the existence of a benevolent Christian god, that is a piece of cake. Just look at the recent natural disaster in Indonesia. A tsunami appeared in the ocean after an earthquake, wiping out 250,000 men, women and children (I'm leaving out a lot of plants and animals that died as well) in one fell swoop. If that is God's idea of magnanimity then she can go to hell, because God forbid that there were two Satans floating aroud.

Speaking of Satanic grafitti, here is one I read the other day:

Jesus says to love your enemy.

Satan is your enemy.

Jesus says to love Satan.

(I thought that was funny!)

Over A. Barrel said...

I just got off the internet that a plane crashed in Greece killing all 121 people on board. Why do these horrible events happen over and over again, pray tell? Is God that sadistic that she can never get her fill of disasters?

Over A. Barrel said...

Update: I'm sad to say that 48 of the passengers were children. Peace and solace to their parents and families.

Anonymous said...

Matt 7:6

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you."

Kathy, it's very rude and tasteless to call people who think that your belief system is false dogs and pigs. Do you use your religion to cover up for the fact that you are really a mean and vicious person on the inside? You need to do some soul-searching of the secular variety.