Sunday, April 13, 2008

Attachment To God

Our modern times are forever restless and agitated, there is ferment and strife, confusion and bustle everywhere. Consequently, we have more need than ever to seek quiet in God, to bind all the chords of our heart to Him.

This does not mean that we shoud go off to some island and leave the world to itself or to the enemies of our religion. No, our times need men who are at peace with themselves-- interiorly and exteriorly appoved and raised above every uncertainty and doubt-- men who draw their strength from an intimate attachment to God enabling them to impress the image of Christ on the world in spite of all opposition.

These are the great artists of life who are needed today more than ever before and whom we call everyday saints. The more turbulent our days and the more pressing the needs, the more earnestly and thoroughly do they strive for a strong, reliable foundation for their lives and their activities, namely, a deep attachment to God.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Law of Organic Transference

Profound religious experience usually predisposes a corresponding experience in the natural order. A religious father experience presupposes a father experience in the natural order. A religious mother experience usually presupposes a a corresponding experience in the natural order. The same hold good for love of brothers or sisters.

The deeper reason for this normal, general law is the law of world government which can be traced back to the common denomninator: God rules the world according to the law of organic transference and transmission.

When we have reached the summit of this convention*, we will take the opportunity to come back to this once more. Here it suffices to know to some degree what is implied. God transfers to secondary causes --in our case our parents -- a part of his attributes: something of His omnipotence, His love, His wisdom. While transferring these to the parents he is thinking of the child. Hence, the law of organic transference. In educating themselves and others, humans should take the same law as their guideline; they too should apply the law of organic transference. The reverance, love, and obedience we owe ultimately to God, we should transfer to secondary causes, to our parents or to authorities similar in nature. It is, however, a law of organic transference, ie. while loving father, mother, and siblings, we simultaneously love God and our Blessed Mother. That is a matter of course; it is the fundamental Catholic perspective. With this we have touched upon a basic law; countless times during this convention we will take a closer look at it.

Excerpts from "Forming the New Person" p. 32. Printed by Schoenstatt Editions 2003. Translated from the German by Milagros Vega. Edited and reviewed by Jonathan Neihaus.

*The convention he is talking about is pedagogical conference he was speaking at on Oct. 2-5, 1951. This book is based on a transcipt of those talks.

Organic vs. Mechanistic Thinking

Somewhere a deeply religious girl who belonged at one time to a Catholic youth organization, heard the Marian song "Beautiful and Magnificent Lady, I want to give you all I have, my life and blood as well." She felt she could never sing such a song, for she could only abandon herself to God, not to people, and consequently, not to our Lady either.

True surrender to the Blessed Virgin is unaquainted with this mechanistic thinking., and does not seperate her, the secondary cause, from the first cause, God. It is obvious that, seperated from God, a creature can not arouse my total surrender. If I give myself to Our Lady, or another creature, I can only do so in the context of their relatedness to God.

In this connection I remind you of little St. Therese. She was crazy about her father because, enraptured, she beheld in the image of her father the image of God. Precisely in giving herself to her natural father, she gave herself in organic totality to Father God.

The above mentioned girl went on with her complaint, "I cannot pray the prayer My Queen, my Mother. I can only give myself totally to God. Again, this way of looking at things is a fruit of mechanistic thinking*.

Those who overlook the subordinate regions of the secondary causes and of the want to fly directly to the final cause, harm not only the organism of sound life. In the course of time they also deprive themselves of what secures access to the higher order. If I give myself directly and exclusively to the spiritual God, I must fear that sooner or later the thought of God will evaporate to such an extent that, in the end, I may even be straining after a certain godlessness. If the thought of God is not filled with life, it does not create life. Since God made the subordinate regions a certain doorway to the superior regions, we have to say a firm yes, to the wishes, to the orders of God.

... Fr. Kentenich gives further examples of the mechanistic thinking afflicting those within the Church, priests etc ...

Aren't such things crimes committed against our people? We tear everything apart and are surprised that a religious surge of life is no longer possible. The subordinate regions are not only a certain preperation but also a lasting protection for the superior regions ... These are serious matters! We tear life to shreds and then complain that our people are not receptive anymore to religious values. We have become religious intellectualists and cannot overcome mechanistic thinking. Our people do not have that problem, but we do, and we make it a problem. We misuse our authority and make the sound thinking of our people unsound. We waste time and stifle life. Isn't it time to find our way back to organic thinking, living and loving?

Excerpts from "Forming the New Person" pp. 52-58. Printed by Schoenstatt Editions 2003. Translated from the German by Milagros Vega. Edited and reviewed by Jonathan Neihaus.

*Mechanistic thinking- earlier in the chapter Fr. Kentenich begins to define mechanistic thinking. "What is mechanistic thinking? It is neither organic or sound because it splits human nature. It seperated the mind, will, and heart from eachother. Sound thinking is organic, symbolic, centered, and integral ... All mechanistic thinking is abnormal, unsound thinking ... With a view to the subject, the bearer of the intellectual faculty, we speak of seperatistic thinking when the mind breaks away from the will and the heart... As regards the object what is the effect of this mechanistic thinking. It seperates ideas from life, the first cause from secondary causes, and life processes in their relation to each other."

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Nazareth Father

Since we are living in a fatherless time, we are also living in a Godless time in which authority is being lost. That is why we may say so clearly that fatherly authority, as a reflection of God's authority, is fundamental to the family. Of course, it is a fatherly authority that has to be recognized by the mother, and that must time and again be re-conquered by the father. How is he to conquer it? Through creative fatherly activity, through serving his wife and children selflessly.

If we want to be a Nazareth family, we have to again become aware of the importance of fatherly authority. It should have a central place in the whole of family life. Therefore it would not be right if a father were to say "I shall work hard to earn a living, to do well at work, and also to be politically active, but at home I shall leave the responsibility to the mother. When I am at home, the children should leave me in peace. I want to be able to relax."

No, the main sphere of my fatherly activity --despite all I do at work, despite the need to earn money, depite political activities --must always be my family. I am the center of my family and have a say in the education of my children. Otherwise I am nothing else than the breadwinner, I am not the father. Then I do not, so to say, 'adopt' my children time and again, that is, I do not beget my children once more, but merely see to it that they have enough to eat. The depths of the child remain untouched by fatherly authority. Then later in life the child will be unable to stand his or her ground.

Excerpt from "The Family at the Service of Life" pp. 30-31. Printed by St. Paul's Press in 2001. Translated from the German by Mary Cole.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

#2 Childlikeness- The Child as a Revelation of God

The child is a totally unique revelation of God. Here we have a term which cannot be so quickly exhausted. We want to distinguish: Every creature is a unique revelation of God, and each one of us is a unique revelation of God. If we call the child a unique revelation of God in this context, it is because we want to underscore a certain value. Please listen: Become what the child is! What am I called to become? What the child is by nature, imperfectly and in passing, you must acquire perfectly and perminantly!

This is the main outline point which you must keep in mind the whole day. It implies two tasks-- to study the unique revelation of God which the child presents to us, and then to say: this is what we must become!

What does this unique revelation of God look like which the child presents? I must generalize, for the time is unfortunately too short for me to depict all the many delicate and delightful features of the child. I ask you to do that for yourselves. If what I now give are a few metaphysical expressions, you can be certain that a great number of observations stand behind them. So what does this unique revelation of God look like? I will give three answers. The child is first of all a unique prophet of God; secondly the child is a unique reflection of God; thirdly, the child is in a unique union with God.

Unless you become like little children! Do you understand what this means? Unless you become like little children-- in a perfect manner-- and acquire as you perminant condition the state of being a unique prophet and reflection of God, and being in unique union with God, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

When we think of being a unique reflection of God, then two great truths rise before us: the child is the unique reflection of the simplicity of the Father and the child is a unique reflection of the self-surrender of the Son. You will notice that all dogmatic teaching, all of psychology and philosophy stands before us.

The child is a unique prophet of God. Just think of what this means! The child points to God. Anyone with a keen eye for life and a down-to-earth sense of reality, or for that matter anyone who likes to be around children-- which should really be all of us, for the child belongs to the Child!-- knows what I mean. Let me summerize the main points in metaphysical terms. The child points to God, in part directly, in part indirectly. If I allow myself to observe the child, what does this awaken in me? Yes, a child spontaneously reminds us of two things: first of mankind's paradise and secondly of the paradise of our own life.

The child reminds us directly of the twofold paradise. Is this really true? Alban Stoltz* wrote that there are three things which remind us of paradise again and again. The stars, the flowers, and a child's eyes. The child's eyes point emphatically to the paradise of mankind:

"Child's eyes, diamonds
in earth's desert sands
Worlds of long lost happiness
radiate from your loveliness."

Is the poet right? Does a child remind us of paradise? Let me ask the philosophical and dogmatic question: What is the distinguishing feature of paradise? It is walking and conversing with God. Hence the child points directly to God. The child is a prophet of God.

A similar symbolism rings true when you realize that a child's eyes-- and the child himself-- quickly and easily transport us to the paradise of our own childhood. Is it not true? When we are tired, when life has tossed to and fro and then we stand before a child in the cradle, if we allow ourselves to be absorbed by the child's charm, does not everything quicken again in our soul? How many memories are stirred-- memories of a time when our passions were still in check, memories of our life's paradise! What is it that makes the life of a child, at least a Catholic child, akin to paradise? It was this simple carefree conversing with the Divine, with the angels. This is part of the essence of the child. The child expressly urges us back to God and to His realness in our lives.

The child is therefore a direct prophet of God, but is also and indirect one. Here I must enquire into my own experience. Is it not true that when I stand before a child and look into his wondering eyes-- that a child's eyes can really express wonder!-- I am fascinated and filled with joy? Do we not come away feeling how small the seperation is between God and us? Yes, let me appeal again to your own experiences and observations. When our retreat is over, stand in front of a baby carriage and begin to study-- to find out what we should be! We are called to become what a child is: a prophet of God!

It is true: in the pure eyes of a child we see reflected all the greatness the child sees in creation. This is what shines out to me when I look into the child's eyes. But it is not only that, or even the mirroring of things Divine, that we see. We spontaneously sense that there is only a thin veil, a thin partition-- and behind it is God! We therefore feel compelled to stand in awe before the eyes of a child.

Excerpt from "Childlikeness Before God- Reflections on Spiritual Childhood" pp. 62-64. Printed by the Schoenstatt Fathers 2001. Translated from the German by Fr. Jonathan Niehaus

*Fr. Alban Stoltz (1808-1883), German theologian and author

Saturday, November 17, 2007

#1 Childlikeness- A Core Statement

I will limit myself to a single saying of Our Lord, for it is truly so central that we have no need for any other core statements. It is: "Unless you become like children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of God" (Mt. 18, 3). We must hear this word and interpret it as if for the first time. It will be our faithful companion for the remainder of the retreat.

We begin by calling to mind the occasion on which Our Lord spoke these words. In Biblical scholarship a great deal depends on the situation in which the word was spoken.

It was probably at the end of Our Lord's activity in Galilee. He had already spoken of His impending passion twice, but, strangely enough, the disciples had not understood him (Mt. 16, 21-23; 17,22f).

If you can imagine the mentality of the countries around us, you will understand the mind-set of the disciples. They were convinced that our Lord was the great political Messiah. They were also firmly convinced that they would be appointed His ministers in the new kingdom. And just as in our neighboring countries* these positions were all decided before the revolution-- this one will take over foreign affairs, that one finance, etc.-- the disciples must have expected the same thing. So now Our Lord speaks of His suffering and death for a second time and the disciples do not understand Him. In fact, they misunderstand Him so totally that they begin to discuss who will take over what positions of power.

They may have acted this way because of their general misconception, but it was probably reinforced by two great facts. Christ had taken some of his disciples to the mountain where He was transfigured (Mt. 17, 1-9). What the disciples could now say about the radiance and glory of the God-man was naturally very alluring and intensified their expectations. Moreover, it was not long before this that Christ had solemnly appointed Simon Peter as the leader of the Twelve (Mt. 16, 13-20). He was to be the head of the new kingdom and the successor of Christ. Of course that must have caused the other disciples to ask, "What about us? What will my position be?" So they argued, discussing how the different posts would be distributed among them.

They now come to Our Lord. Christ knew at once that they were talking about their ambitions. He took them to task: "What were you discussing along the way?" (Mk. 9, 33). And now Christ begins to reveal to the disciples, his future leaders, a most unusual ideal. In education it is frequent practice to explain an ideal by using the example of some outstanding person. Typically, one takes the great men of world history and says: "You must become like them!" But what does Our Lord do? He takes a child and says: You who are so ambitious, who want to be the first in the "political" kingdom which I will never found, what should be your ideal? Unless you become like this child I will have little use for you in my Kingdom, to say nothing of you becoming its leaders.

Do you understand the situation? The ambitions of the disciples are immediately crushed! What does Christ demand? Unless you become like children! Unless we do this, we cannot even enter His Kingdom, much less be its strongest members!

I hardly think I need to say more about this core statement, at least for now. Becoming a child is simply the way to heaven.

Excerpt from "Childlikeness Before God- Reflections on Spiritual Childhood" pp. 52-53. Printed by the Schoenstatt Fathers 2001. Translated from the German by Fr. Jonathan Niehaus

*These series of talks were given in 1937 following the rise of fascist regimes in Germany, Italy, etc.