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Human perfection achieved in self-giving interaction with others

Rather, what is sought is the truth of the person—what the person is and what the person reveals from deep within. Human perfection, then, consists not simply in acquiring an abstract knowledge of the truth, but in a dynamic relationship of faithful self-giving with others. It is in this faithful self-giving that a person finds a fullness of certainty and security. At the same time, however, knowledge through belief, grounded as it is on trust between persons, is linked to truth: in the act of believing, men and women entrust themselves to the truth which the other declares to them.

John Paul II

Fides et Ratio

Katie van Schaijik

Heaven is a person

May. 9, 2013, at 12:04pm

Today's Magnificat includes a beautiful and highly personalist quotation from Pope Emeritus Benedict on the Ascension and its promise for humanity.

The meaning of Christ's Ascension," writes Pope Benedict XVI, "expresses our belief that in Christ the humanity that we all share has entered into the inner life of God in a new and hitherto unheard of way.  It means that man has found an everlasting place in God."  It would be a mistake to interpret the Ascension as "the temporary absence of Christ from the world." Rather, "we go to heaven to the extent that we go to Jesus Christ and enter into him." Heaven is a person. "Jesus himself is what we call 'heaven'."


Jules van Schaijik

Kierkegaard turns 200

May. 8, 2013, at 8:52pm

I was just reminded by an advertisement (a bookseller), that Søren Kierkegaard turned 200 last Sunday. That is something I don't want to let pass unnoticed. But I have only a few minutes at my disposal. So I will just leave you with soem passages from one of Kierkegaard's early journals. In these he expresses his longing, indeed, his need, "to find a truth which is truth for me, to find the idea for which I am willing to live and die."

The whole passage could be seen as an explanation of our motto, tua res agitur (the thing concerns you}.

Of what use would it be to me to discover a so-called objective truth, to work through the philosophical systems so that I could, if asked, make

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Katie van Schaijik

Tenderness and maturity

May. 7, 2013, at 3:11pm

The word tenderness seems to be in the air lately.  It's clearly a favorite of our new Pope's.  He used it in some of his earliest remarks as Pope. "Do not be afraid of tenderness." He mentioned it again several times today, in reflections on the First Letter of St. John and the sacrament of confession.

"The Lord is tender towards those who fear, to those who come to Him "and with tenderness," He always understands us”. He wants to gift us the peace that only He gives. " "This is what happens in the Sacrament of Reconciliation" even though "many times we think that going to confession is like going to the dry cleaner" to clean the dirt from our clothes...

It came up, too, in the last two

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Josef Seifert

What is the most fundamental human right? Part 3: Three contenders

May. 4, 2013, at 11:13am

We have said that in a certain sense the right to life is the most fundamental and basic natural human right. Now we have to clarify in which sense this is true and which are other points of view perceived from which it is not the most fundamental one, and whether these other points of view to determine the most basic human right are more foundational or fundamental ones. We will here omit the purely historical point of view, which basic human right was the first one to be included in a modern human rights catalogue because we do not deem this question to be relevant for our analysis. (From this point of view, at least if one prescinds from all ancient and early medieval human rights

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Josef Seifert

What is the most fundamental human right? Part 2: The Right to Life?

May. 4, 2013, at 10:22am

The Right to Life is, in a sense, the most Fundamental and Basic Absolute Natural Right (Urgrundrecht)

The right to life is not only a natural and an “absolute right,” as also the right to the freedom of religion or the right to choose one’s wife freely upon her consent, but it is also an, or even in a certain sense the, absolutely foundational concrete human right (Urgrundrecht). This does not exclude that other fundamental human rights, rooted in the dignity of the awakened actual conscious life, have another kind of priority and more specifically “personal character” precisely because they exist only on the level and dignity of the rational conscious life of the human person.

That

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Josef Seifert

What is the most fundamental human right? Part 1: Rights vs. Obligations

May. 4, 2013, at 9:59am

1. Personhood and Human Dignity as Foundation of Ethical Obligations and Fundamental Human Rights

Most of ethics rests on the insight into the sublime dignity of persons. Every human person, regardless of age, sex, race or other differences between different members of the species man, possesses a unique value, called "dignity," which lifts him or her up above all impersonal creatures.[1] This human dignity is the source of a strict moral obligation to respect it during all phases of human life.

The ethical question of respecting human dignity, or better said, to respect any human person in virtue of the dignity of the person, is not at all restricted to the aspect of fundamental human

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Devra Torres

Beyond Biology

May. 3, 2013, at 4:05pm

Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.

--Robert Frost, "Death of the Hired Man"

Some people hear this as an insult to home and hearth (and I see what they mean), but I think it captures something. 

There’s something about family—which is pretty much synonymous with “home” here—that inspires the invention of counterfeits.  I heard an ad the other day for a “family of mutual funds”

and another for a “family of cleaning products.” 

Just what is it they’re trying to piggyback on?

Is it mere biology that ensures the kind of unconditional love (or at least acceptance) we associate with families?  No, there's no absolute guarantee. Is there anything

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Katie van Schaijik

Personalists in practice

May. 2, 2013, at 10:04pm

Since member Quinton mentioned recently on the Member Feed that he's been wondering what personalism would look like in practice, I've been wanting to launch a section profiling people who have done it.  

I have in mind people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jean Vanier; Maria Montessori, and Suzuki—people who have used the insights of Christian personalism in a pioneering way, dramatically influencing culture and society.  

I see that the NCR today has a profile on Dorothy Day, called, "Catholic Worker Celebrates 80 Years of Gentle Personalism."  The phrase comes from her longtime intellectual and spiritual mentor, Peter Maurin, who spoke of "the gentle personalism of traditional

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Marie Meaney

Does God Have Favorites?

May. 1, 2013, at 3:11am

We are more or less used to the inequality we have to deal with in everyday life: some of us are more intelligent, talented, wealthy, healthy and lucky than others, while others are badly off in all respects.  We don’t need to see this as a sign of God’s favor or neglect; lack of health, of opportunities, of money, intelligence and talents can be explained as the consequences of original sin, of “sinful social structures” which John Paul II spoke about, different genetic pools or just as plain bad luck. The wealthy are not particularly good nor are the suffering particularly evil; good and evil cut across all classes and professions. God lets the sun shine on the good and the bad equally

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Katie van Schaijik

Cults and co-dependency: how to detect the virus

Apr. 27, 2013, at 12:41pm

Devra recently linked at facebook an interesting and helpful Patheos article by Fr. Dwight Longenecker on the problem of cults and cultlike behavior among the religious. I was glad to see it: for one, because the difference between healthy relations and dysfunctional ones is a key interest of mine personally (I've addressed it before, including here), and for two, because I think we have an epidemic on our hands, and too few of us are adequately aware of it. There's a reason for our unawareness.

...cult like behavior is often very similar to authentic and Spirit filled Christian communities. A cult will often look like a good, authentic and dynamic Christian community. In fact, the cult

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Devra Torres

Reductionism and Other Mental Illnesses

Apr. 26, 2013, at 3:05pm

Lately I've run into some exceptionally interesting articles on mental health (by John Janaro

 Steve Gershom

and Gregory Popcak).

It occurs to me how closely related to personalism this subject is.  In the quest to “become who you are” (not somebody elseand not some lesser version of yourself)—in the struggle to sort through all the bogus and genuine paths to fulfillment and maturity, where exactly do mental illness and its treatment fit in?

Simple!  (I used to think)  Mental illness is scandalously overdiagnosed!  Drugs are shockingly overprescribed!  Every squirmy little boy is saddled with an ADHD label, every sleep-deprived new mama is PPD, every moody adolescent bipolar.

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Katie van Schaijik

Not all pursuit of truth is good

Apr. 22, 2013, at 6:03pm

After posting the other day about Simcha Fisher's article on a disturbing streak of holocaust denial in traditionalist Catholic circles, I was drawn into an email discussion with a fellow FUS grad, who defends the type.  It's been eye-opening.  I begin to worry that it's more than a streak.  

I am under no illusions that my arguments will break through to this group. Some forms of traditionalism have all the earmarks of a cult. Reasoning doesn't avail against it, which was partly Simcha's point. But I'll publish some of the exchange here, in the hope of helping inoculate others against the oh-so-plausible arguments justifying holocaust denial. 

I'll offset his comments (which I quote only

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Katie van Schaijik

Good words from Archbishop Chaput

Apr. 20, 2013, at 10:31am

He addresses the nature of evil in a timely column.

In the days ahead we need to pray for the dead and wounded in Boston, and their families. And then, with the help of God, we need to begin to change ourselves. That kind of conversion might seem like a small thing, an easy thing - until we try it. Then we understand why history turns on the witness of individual lives.


Devra Torres

Worse than a Nanny State

Apr. 18, 2013, at 9:30pm

To say that fiscal policy is not my forte is—let’s put it nicely— an understatement.  (In fact, I chose this graph because it was so pretty.)  But there is an important personalist point to be made about it anyway, and maybe I can express it in a way that other liberal-arts types can understand.

Many labor under a perceived conflict between taking seriously the Church’s concern for the poor, on the one hand, and treasuring the rights of the individual, including the taxpayer and entrepreneur, on the other.  The “social justice Catholics” object to neglecting the poor in the name of the economic freedoms of people who could help them. Small-government advocates object to a state that

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Katie van Schaijik

The ethics of organ donation

Apr. 18, 2013, at 8:31am

A friend links an exceptionally thoughtful blog post on the question of organ donation.  She touches the problem of medical personel, acutely aware of the urgent need for organs, putting undue pressure on the grieving families, who may have religious or moral objections.

Clinicians and medical staff know so very little, if anything, about these families and about how they feel about their dead. They only know how they present at a given period of time and what the medical records say. Sometimes, in our haste, practitioners/clinicians see families as hurdles; persons to sidestep or go around.  We can subconsciously depersonalize them, characterizing them as obstacles to the lung, liver,

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Devra Torres

Sneak Preview

Apr. 14, 2013, at 10:36am

I’ve just spent a solid week in an Ann Arbor basement in the company of Pope Francis.  Well, not in person, but I got a surprise opportunity to do one layer of editing of a collection of his homilies, letters, and addresses.  (This explains why you haven’t heard from me in a while.)  The book will be available from Scepter…well, I’ll let you know as soon as I have a date.  But it was a worthwhile way to spend a week, and I thank my longsuffering children

 for making it possible.  (Actually the three pictured here, as you can imagine, were mostly useful in keeping the older ones productively occupied.)

As I got to know Pope Francis, I kept remembering that interview with Cardinal Dolan,

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Katie van Schaijik

The cause of truth is the cause of life

Apr. 14, 2013, at 8:54am

I'm reading this morning an excellent article by Robert George about the late abortionist-turned pro-life activist, Bernard Nathanson.  All of it is more than worth reading, but this point wants high-lighting. 

Bernie and I became friends in the early 1990s, shortly after my own pro-life writings came to his attention. Once during the question-and-answer session following a speech he gave at Princeton, I asked him: “When you were promoting abortion, you were willing to lie in what you regarded as a good cause. Now that you have been converted to the cause of life, would you be willing to lie to save babies? How do those who hear your speeches and read your books and articles know that you

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Katie van Schaijik

Good and truth unify, evil and untruth divide

Apr. 12, 2013, at 10:41am

I love Simcha Fisher for this post, titled, "A Little Divisiveness, Please."  

Her point is not unrelated to the problem of "unprincipled forgiveness."  Like those whose call for "unconditional mercy," calls for "unity" and reproaches against "divisiveness" all too often expose an essential unseriousness about truth and right.  They are, in practical effect, ways of saying "peace, peace" when there is no peace.

As Simcha puts it, "Some things are worth dividing yourself from."  Among them are lies and illusions and cover-ups and conspiracies.  Also vanities and immorality and wrong-speaking and wrong-doing of every kind.  All of these things are objectively disunifying.

There is only one

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Katie van Schaijik

Promoting justice

Apr. 7, 2013, at 10:18am

I am thinking of my cousin, Fr. Bob Oliver, who was appointed Promoter of Justice by Pope Benedict a few weeks before his resignation.  He is now, in effect, the Church's top prosecutor in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office responsible for adjudicating the sex abuse scandals, among other things.  

According to Zenit, the Pope met last week with Archbishop Müller, head of the CDF, and urged him to act decisively.

"In particular," the statement added, "the Holy Father recommended that the Congregation, continuing along the lines set by Benedict XVI, act decisively with regard to cases of sexual abuse, first of all by promoting measures for the protection of minors,

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Devra Torres

Of Charisms and Comfort Zones

Apr. 2, 2013, at 8:30pm

We all saw it coming. 

On learning that Pope Francis rode the subway and cooked his own meals, we were charmed.  When he preferred to skip cuff links and stoles,

we were still delighted—or most of us were.  When he stopped by his hotel to pay his bill, called up the local kiosk owner to cancel his paper, and held a mass for garbage collectors, everybody cheered. 

Some have already been put off by one gesture or another, and more will surely follow suit as this (very wholesome) Papaphoria diminishes. 

When it came out, for example, that he had asked his countrymen

 to stay home from his installation and give the money to the poor, not the airlines, that sounded noble.  Even his immediate

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