May. 18, 2010, at 11:41am
Had he lived, he would be ninety today.
I think the Church has hardly begun to realize and assimilate the greatness of his legacy of philosophical personalism. A few favorite quotations:
From The Person: Subject and Community:
The present age is a time of great controversy about the human being, controversy about the very meaning of human existence, and thus about the nature and significance of the human being. We know that such situations in history have frequently led to a deeper reflection on Christian truth as a whole, as well as on particular aspects of it. That is also the case today. The truth about the human being, in turn, has a distinctly privileged place in this whole process. After nearly twenty years of ideological debate in Poland, it has become clear that at the center of this debate is not cosmology or philosophy of nature but philosophical anthropology and ethics: the great and fundamental controversy about the human being.
From Love and Responsibility:
A person is an objective entity, which as a definite subject has the closest contacts with the whole (external) world and is most intimately involved with it precisely because of its inwardness, its interior life.
From Theology of the Body:
… the gift reveals, so to speak, a particular characteristic of personal existence, or even of the very essence of the person. … [Alone] man does not completely realize his essence. He realizes it only by existing “with someone”—and, put even more deeply and completely, by existing “for someone.”
From The Way to Christ:
... the battle which each person—and particularly each Christian—fights for humanity and human values is the noblest of battles. It is a frontline battle, and final victory is worth the risk of some losses.
From Redeemer of Man:
Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.
From a letter to Henri de Lubac, written when he was still a Cardinal:
I devote my very rare free moments to a work that is close to my heart and devoted to the metaphysical sense and mystery of the person. It seems to me that the debate today is being played out on that level. The evil of our times consists in the first place in a kind of degradation, indeed in a pulverization, of the fundamental uniqueness of each human person. This evil is even more of the metaphysical order than of the moral order. To this disintegration planned at times by atheistic ideologies we must oppose, rather than sterile polemics, a kind of “recapitulation” of the inviolable mystery of the person.