Belief and unbelief

The following comes from the English version of the 2006 JH Walgrave Lecture at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, recently given by Msgr Bruno Forte, Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto (you can read the Italian here). It is entitled, “Theological Foundations of Dialogue within the Framework of Cultures marked by Unbelief and Religious Indifference”:

The company that faith and non-belief keep one another in this way has its origins in the one human condition: when human beings ask the deepest questions about their inevitable vulnerability to pain and death, they do this not as people who have already arrived, but as searchers for the distant homeland, who let themselves be permanently called into question, provoked and seduced by the furthest horizon. Human beings who stop, who feel they have mastered the truth, for whom the truth is no longer Someone who possesses you more and more, but rather something to be possessed, such persons have not only rejected God, but also their own dignity as human beings.To be human is to go on a journey outwards: human beings are on an exodus, called permanently to go out of themselves, to question themselves, in search of home, glimpsed but not possessed, in search of the Father – Mother welcoming in love… If human beings are by constitution pilgrims towards life, “begging for heaven” (Jacques Maritain), the true temptation is to stop journeying, to feel they have arrived, no longer to think of themselves as exiles in this world, but proprietors and masters of an impossible “eternal instant”. The illusion to feel that we have arrived, the presumption of thinking we are already fulfilled, that we have achieved the goal of our existence, this is the fatal illness.

All this can be applied analogously to the things of God: in the life of faith, too, the greatest temptation is to stop. Because Christians are called to follow the Cross, where God spoke in the silent, disquieting eloquence of the passion, they are constantly placed before this great choice: to crucify their own expectations on the Cross of Christ, or to crucify Christ on the cross of these expectations. This is exactly the way the Cross is the gospel of freedom, as Jesus showed us in the way He went out of Himself in choice after choice, till the point of deepest self-abandonment! In everyday experience, as in the journey of faith, human beings are called to be free by paying the painful price of this continual, inevitable choice, a choice that constantly places us on the threshold, sensing the crucial alternative of going one way or the other…


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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