Aparecida 41-42: Christ and Meaning

In face of the challenges to meaning the bishops offer Christ and discipleship as the key to responding. They see Christ as the key to providing a center for a culture that they see as disintegrating. Discipleship is again connected with a sense of mission.

These two paragraphs, a philosophical-theological analysis of the problem of meaning in Latin America, seek to show the importance of Christ in providing the meaning for culture in a globalized society where there are many voices offering partial explications of reality, often leaving out the religious dimension.

 41 Hence, we Christians must start over from Christ, from contemplation of Him who has revealed to us in his mystery, the complete fulfillment of the human vocation and its meaning. We need to become docile disciples, to learn from Him, in following him, the dignity and fullness of life. We likewise need to be consumed by missionary zeal, to bring to the heart of the culture of our time that unifying and full meaning of human life that neither science, nor politics, nor economics, nor the media can provide. In Christ the Word, God’s Wisdom (cf. 1 Cor. 1:30), culture can again find its center and depth, from which reality may be viewed with all its aspects together, discerning them in the light of the Gospel and granting to each its place and proper dimension.

Reflecting the thought of Pope Benedict, they see society beleaguered by information as believing that “it can actually operate as if God did not exist.”

The response to the challenge of a technological society, inundated by non-integrated information, is recognition of God who can satisfy “the yearning for dignity engraved in the depths of the human heart.”

42. As the Pope told us in his inaugural address: “only those who recognize God know reality and are able to respond to it adequately and in a truly human manner.” Society, which coordinates its activities only through an enormous variety of information, believes that it can actually operate as if God did not exist. But the effectiveness of procedures brought about through information, even using the most developed technologies, is incapable of satisfying the yearning for dignity engraved in the depths of the human heart. Hence, it is not enough to assume that mere diversity of viewpoints, options and ultimately information, which is commonly called pluriculturality or multiculturalism, will remedy the absence of an integrated meaning for everything that exists.

The final half of this paragraph interprets this in terms of an ingrained search for meaning  – for the “truth of [one’s] being,” that integrates the varied meanings being offered.

  The human person in its very essence is that place in nature where the variety of meanings converge on a single vocation of meaning. People are not frightened of diversity; what shocks them is rather being unable to combine the totality of all these meanings of reality into an integrated understanding that enables them to exercise their freedom with discernment and responsibility. Human persons are ever seeking the truth of their being, for it is that truth that sheds light on reality so that it can develop in it with freedom and happiness, with joy and hope.

Here is the USCCB translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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About John Donaghy

lay missioner with the Catholic diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras, since June 2007, helping in the parish of Dulce Nombre de María.
This entry was posted in 2007 Aparecida document, bishops, evangelization, Guest Writers, John Donaghy and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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