The Personalist Project

I had a funny experience this weekend on the plane home from Dallas, where we'd gone to see baby number 4 graduate from college.

With ToB talk prep on my mind, I've had several documents open on my computer for weeks, including John Crosby's "On Proposing the Truth and Not Imposing It: John Paul II's Personalism and the Teaching of Dignitatis Humanae", Familiaris Consortio and Casti Connubii.

According to (bad) habit, I read piecemeal, a few paragraphs at a time. Then I pick up something else. It takes a while for me to get through a whole article or encyclical. 

So there I was, reading Familiaris Consortio, clipping great quotes, like this one:

God is love and in Himself He lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in His own image and continually keeping it in being, God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion. Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.

Then I decided I really should finish the Crosby article before anything else, so I switched to that. Lots of great quotes in there too, like this:

Everyone knows how deeply committed [John Paul II] is to the teaching of the Church on the moral disorder of contraception, as set forth in the encyclical, Humanae Vitae. But he has not tried to uphold this teaching simply by “laying down the law,” simply by demanding obedience, by threatening punishments, and the like. He thinks that that is just the approach that makes the moral law seem to people to cramp their freedom. He has throughout his pontificate taken a different approach. On one occasion he said: “it is not enough that this encyclical be faithfully and fully proposed, but it also is necessary to devote oneself to demonstrating its deepest reasons."

ToB, as we know, is exactly an extended and comprehensive papal demonstration of the deepest reasons for the Church's teaching against birth control, among other things.

Having finished that article, I went back to Familiar Consortio. As I read it, though, I started to feel uneasy. "This is unusual language for John Paul. I hadn't remembered this." It spoke of "grave sin" and abominations and offenses against nature and shamefulness and such. It took me aback. I even started thinking, "Have I been wrong?" "Do I have to revise my thesis? Could it be that John Paul's mode and rhetoric are not as far from pre-Vatican II Popes as I've been claiming so confidently?" Then I came across a paragraph I recognized well:

Nor are those considered as acting against nature who in the married state use their right in the proper manner although on account of natural reasons either of time or of certain defects, new life cannot be brought forth. For in matrimony as well as in the use of the matrimonial rights there are also secondary ends, such as mutual aid, the cultivating of mutual love, and the quieting of concupiscence which husband and wife are not forbidden to consider so long as they are subordinated to the primary end and so long as the intrinsic nature of the act is preserved.

Instantly, I knew what had happened. I was accidentally reading Casti Connubii (promulgated by Pius XI in 1930) not Familiaris Consortio. :)

My thesis is safe. Phew.

Comments (1)

David Wheeler

#1, Sep 4, 2019 5:12pm

a) Wife submit to husband

b) husband goes to cross for wife

It seems to me that as a man my natural sense is to please my wife.  When my wife submits to my headship it allows me to respond to her Queenship.  If I truely love my wife I watch her and look for her responce when I make my decision.  I'm looking for humility, a groundedness, in her response.  It seems to me that if she tries to dominate me that I become resentful and I'm unable to respond with love unless she trusts me, for her to see in me that true man that longs to bathe in freedom.  That freedom comes from living love rightly, not in self indulgence, but in self giving.  The greatest feeling of love is the sense that I have truely given myself to my wife.  

      We have the opportunity to actualize love and all that goes with it.  Embracing the cross for that person we long to be one with, to grow ever closer to.  I feel a greater longing a deeper pain a  momentous desire to become ever closer to my wife.  Not just physically, but spiritually, emotionally, intimately.  


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