Saturday, February 11, 2006

Deus Caritas Est Discussion

On Friday I led a discussion with a group of Jesuits here at Weston on the Pope's encyclical. It was a great discussion. We went for a little over an hour, but easily could have gone longer. I just wanted to mention some of the insights we discussed.

Of immediate interest is the distinctively Christian nature of this encyclical. Notice it is addressed only to the Church and, rather than try to articulate an approach that begins with reason/natural law, it begins with an articulation of love which can only be arrived at based upon one's faith in Christ.

It emphasizes that one's communion with God cannot be merely individual but must be communal.

One question that I raised (and I would be interested to hear people's theories):
The encyclical mentions the use of the word philia to describe the love between Jesus and his disciples, but focuses its discussion only on eros and agape. Why is philia set aside and not included in the discussion?

In the articulation of the threefold responsibility of the Church as proclaiming the word of God, celebrating the sacraments, and exercising the ministry of charity, the emphasis on charity here seems to be making something explicit that had been previously more implicit, as seems to be suggested by the later discussion of the duties of bishops.

There seems to be an attempt to correct the privileging of attempts at correcting unjust social structures over simple acts of charity. The emphasis on the former sometimes seems to imply that the latter don't have much worth. The encyclical emphasizes the opposite, noting the importance of loving, personal concern which frequently is much more apparent in simple acts of charity.

It highlights the importance for those overwhelmed by the need in the world of prayer, and the value of questioning God, as Jesus did: My God, my god why have you foresaken me?

There was, of course, a lot more, but those briefly are a few of the points that came up.


Blogger mamagiglio said...

I want to say first that I haven't read the whole thing yet. I thinkthat Pope Benedict may have put Philia aside for this encyclical because it is the form of love that is less often confused in our day and age. people have a hard time distinguishing between love and lust today. I just love the fact that he opens his pontificate by writing about LOVE! BAck to basics people.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous grant said...

I read the encyclical on the plane ride home this weekend. I thought it was great. He says nothing ground-breaking, but the encyclical does contain a comprehensive vision of the Christian life. Great job, Benedict!

2:07 AM  

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