The Personalist Project

Accessed on August 05, 2020 - 12:42:12

Alone in meaning, yet a collective

Katie van Schaijik, Jun 20, 2016

We are reading Guardini's The End of the Modern World. In one place—as an example of the tendency of moderns to identify nature with the divine—he quotes a passage from Goethe. It includes a line I think captures well the mixed individual and corporate reality of human existence.

Each of her children is unique in being; alone in meaning yet together they form but one....

It reminded me right away of the mystery of personal life articulated at Vatican II—that each is "made for his own sake" and yet only fulfills himself by making a sincere gift of himself to others. Every individual is (in Newman's phrase) "an abyss of personal existence", a whole, an end-in-herself, never to be used as a mere means, and yet, in another sense, we are radically partial, incomplete, and dependent on one another—designed to form a communion.