Monday, May 09, 2005

On Ratzinger the Theologian

Beauty wounds, but just in this way it calls man to his ultimate Destiny. What Plato affirms, and more than 1,500 years later Kabasilas too, has nothing to do with superficial aestheticism and irrationalism, with the flight from clarity and the importance of reason. Beauty is knowledge, to be sure, a higher form of knowledge, since it strikes man with all the grandeur of truth. - The Beautiful is the Good
The Oligarch links to the above mediatation of 'Cardinal Ratzinger' (as was).
What strikes me about our new Holy Father is how lightly he wears his learning - the citations, the references, the quotes, they don't obscure the message or serve as an opportunity for him to show off his learning. Rather, everything he says seems to be rooted in a genuine grasping of the truth, a learning and spirituality which has permeated his bones. This, perhaps, explains why he was able to sit down for long periods with journalists and speak freely over a wide range of topics without the need to go back and revise or correct or retract. He doesn't defend an extrinsic system. He simply shares the truth that he has been privileged enough learn. This also helps explain the oft-noted transition from the young and liberal Ratzinger to the watchdog of the faith. I think it's to his credit that he was able to learn and grow intellectually - he can't be accused of the 'dogmatic' (in the pegorative sense) conservatism. Rather this theologian who was amongst the vanguard of those who inspired so much of the 2nd Vatican Council's was openminded and critical enough to realise that the theological movement which did so much good also had some seeds of destruction and discord within it and was able to change whilst remaining true to those truths which inspired him. [I could draw a comparison with Ven John Henry Newman]
Anyway, I'm rereading one of my favourite Ratzinger books Behold the Pierced One - An Apporach to a Spiritual Theology and thought I might share the following where he reflects on the Dogma of Christ's two wills - Divine and Human and the implications for Christian life:
In the Son's obedience, where both wills become one in a single Yes to the will of the Father, communion takes place between the human and divine being. The "wonderful exchange", the "alchemy of being", is realised here as a liberating and reconciling communication, which becomes a communion between Creator and creature. It is in the pain of this exchange, and only here, that fundamental change takes place in man, the change which alone can redeem him and transform the conditions of the world. Here community is born, here the Church comes into being. The act whereby we participate in the Son's obedience, which involves man's genuine transformation, is also the only really effective contribution toward renewing and transforming society and the world as a whole. Only where this act takes place is there a change for good - in the direction of the kingdom of God. pp93-94

It's not too difficult to see how he then goes on the develop the ecclesiological and eucharistic implications of his Christology.

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