Friday, February 16, 2007

Deus Caritas Est

In my local parish we have a lecture series named "The Call to be Catholic." Im on the steering committee of this group, and we sponsored a wonderful event on Monday night.

We invited Fr. Peter Laird, vice rector of St. Paul Seminary in the Twin Cities to speak on Deus Caritas Est, the encyclical letter of Pope Benedict XVI.

Fr. Laird is a very engaging individual, as well as very orthodox. He expounded on the thought of Pope Benedict in a way I had never considered in the past. Fr. Laird made the point that two of the strongest influences on Benedict's scholarship are St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Bonaventure. These two figures are opposites in many ways, yet there is a sort of creative tension which is fostered by keeping true to both of these figures. This is the well from which Benedict draws when writing Deus Caritas Est, and later in his now infamous Regensberg address. Love, reason, rationality, Logos, and the irrationality of fallen human nature are all parts of the full depth of human experience, and Christian Life.

This naturally made me reflect on Chesterton, and the two pillar biographies of St. Thomas and St. Francis. We can talk about paradox and mystery to the point of overusing the terms, but these two radically different lives bear witness to the truth of the "simple" complexity of the human person. We have created the technological world of rationality around us, yet most of the social issues of our day are mere clamorings for license. The passionate Francis or Augustine would likely see that as not cause for puritanism, but rather a blind seeking of fulfillment in a place where it can simply never be found.

These are powerful ideas. Chesterton and Benedict seem to have spent their lifetimes in contemplation of these depths.

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