Against the Modern Church
By: Stanislaw Grygiel
Translated By: Hansol Goo
Remembering that memorable October 22 from thirty-eight years ago, I feel oppressed more than other times by the darkness that covers Europe and the people of God. The "masters" of the European Union hate Europe and demolish it. They are doing everything to seal the sources from which Europe springs. They do not understand that being European means something else than being the subject of their power. They believe that Europeans must be able to submit to their calculations that transform things and even men into objects to sell and buy.
They separate freedom from truth, brotherhood from the Father, and equality from any difference. For them, every man must be devoid of the identity of a person, for only then can he be available to do what is imposed on him. Such dictatorship does not tolerate moral and cultural nihilism. Those who live according to the logic of truth, of the Father, and of differences, who seek to give words appropriate to men and things, are criticized, ridiculed, threatened, and sometimes, like Plato's Righteous, killed by slaves chained to the wall of opinions in a cave. In the streets, in the newspaper pages of this cave where we are thrown, the trumpets of the slaves of the opinions play the hymn of pagan joy that exalts the naive to rely on the promise of the "snake": "You will know good and evil" ( Gen 3: 5).
The sound of trumpets of modernity bursts into marriages and families and, as a result, also bursts into the Church that is born in them. It destroys the moral walls behind which scared people seek shelter. Even many apostles abandon the via crucis or even flee from beneath the cross to take refuge in the hiding places offered by modernity. The worse is that some of them have snatched the trumpets and theologically sound the same pagan hymn of joy and happiness. How We Are Far from the Beatitudes of the Speech on the Mountain (cfr. Mt 5:1 and following)!
They have let themselves be degraded to such an extent that they do not realize that they have agreed to function as "useful idiots" that help the masters of modernity flatten marriages, families, and hence the Church herself to zero, to this dimension we are dealing with the depth of the sea. The consequences of chaos and the confusion they produce in the minds and hearts of so many men will not leave them, demanding that they account for them before the Lord of the universe and history.
It comes to my mind the distinction that Plato makes between "simple workers" (homines fabri) and bridge builders (pontifices). "Simple Workers" produce objects whose trade creates men's relationships that are calculated according to interests. Instead the bridge builders open the men to receive the divine gift, that is, the Bridge that God builds to go down to them from the other side of the river of life.
The "simple workers" do not understand that human love, to be what it says to be, that is, love, must be transformed into Divine Love. So they do not understand that giving oneself to another person means giving up forever. Whoever takes away himself from the one who has given himself, commits a very serious theft and is likely to take the path of adultery.
The anthropology of homines fabri is based not on the experience of searching for truth, but on the experience of falls and moral ills. It is no wonder that the pastoral practice they propose opposes the Word that is Truth, the Way and the Life. They follow not Christ but Moses, who for the sclerosis of their heart (sklerocardia) had allowed the Jews to abandon their own wife and to take another (see Mt 19: 3-9). It is a pastoral that I would call political diplomacy rather than evangelical pastoral. Such shepherds play cards made with men and God, for they no longer believe that man is called to transcend himself and walk on the ascending bridge that God has begun to build in him. They do not believe that divine grace can make man fit into a life of chastity, and then even in celibacy. They talk not of creative fidelity with God but of the creative one in favor of human weakness. Not knowing anything about health and being therefore unable to diagnose evil, confuse health with illnesses. They confuse evil with good, the false with the truth. As a result, instead of having doctors, we have many healers who know how to do many things but ignore the unum necessarium. They obey the "connoisseurs of good and evil" that suggest them "the new" pastoral strategies "that are deadly for the spiritual life of the Church. This is what the masters of the modern world are aiming for, alliance with the "useful idiots".
Some dare to say that the philosophical thought and the teaching of St. John Paul II have opened the door to what is happening today. They see continuity between his ideas and the current confusion. I agree that there is a continuity in the teaching of the Church, but we must not identify it with the chaos caused by the "simple workers" inspired by postmodernism. One of them, in order to strengthen their views in favor of the more liberal treatment of divorced persons, cites the book "Person and Act" by Karol Wojtyla and the Interview dedicated to him (held in 1970 not in Krakow, as he writes, but in Lublin - I am witnessing it, because I have taken an active part). The analysis made in this book show that man is a free, sovereign subject, whose choices are acts of love as a gift of self and whose responsibility is bound by his duty to demand for himself what they do not demand others. There is always the risk of abusing the Saint's thoughts when he is not accompanied in the ascent to the top of the act of creation, from where the light of the divine-human truth of the human person is.
The forgetfulness of the fact that Karol Wojtyla's anthropological thinking was born in the moral experience of man, that is, in communion with other people and at the same time in the experience of the presence of God in every man, in the Bible and in the Church, allows to manipulate the legacy of St. John Paul II, whose understanding of the human person born in the purity of the heart and mind fought with the Word of the living God, Jesus Christ, and not with that of Moses. Here we touch on a crucial point for the Wojtylaan vision of the continuous development of our understanding of salvation.
It would not be possible to speak about the continuity of teaching in the Church if the Church was not rooted in the Person of Christ present in the Gospel and in the Eucharist. Without the continued adoration of Christ so present among us, teaching in the Church would only be a Christian Talmud, that is, a collection of studies and comments in which the Gospel would be reflected as the sun in the moon. Reflections take on different shapes and qualities, but it is not the moon to mark the advent of the dawn.
The Word in which God creates and saves man is one, but he himself, man, hears it many times. Why? Because they change the situations in which man feels what God semel dixit. The man is mature, rooting his own being in the infinite depth of the Word of the living God. Its ripening happens in the continuous return to the Principle in which God is thinking creatively. It consists in the continuous rebirth, or if desired, in converting to the Principle, not in the Reforms.
Precisely for this reason I do not understand why some of my friends are afraid to think of man and the Church in a mystical, eschatological, and vertical way. They lower themselves into the Church's policy that ultimately will transform pastoral ministry into a game of statistics. This does not help the Church to give adequate words to marriage, family, and even herself.The rebirth, the conversion of man and of the Church has never been the effect of decrees arising from commissions or discussions that are merely exchange of words. From each revival, from every conversion, this takes place in the beauty of the exchange of gifts that are people. The "simple workers" who try to reform the Church pest the water in the mortar. The sacramental character of the Church is not to be overthrown.
Helping a morally ill person to know and recognize the truth of one's being constitutes the primordial love and primordial mercy that man can and must exercise toward others. Merciful are those who think themselves and others no longer according to a horizontal but vertical logic. The foundations of love and mercy are not thrown into statistics - they do not know neither the love nor the mercy that are eternal - but in the truth that, as the Veritatis splendor says, it is always and everywhere, and in every situation it is truth. I will never forget the answer given by St. John Paul II to the question: "If the Bible were to be destroyed and you had the opportunity to save a single sentence, what would you choose?", "I would choose this: 'Truth will make you free.'
I do not know why, but as I write this article, I was given to see the phrase chosen by St. John Paul II as a whole. Jesus says, "If you remain faithful to my word, you will truly be my disciples; you will know the truth and the truth will make you free "(Jn 8: 31-32). In the deep sense of the term, only fidelity to the person makes us free. Loyalty to things makes us slaves. Then the desired truth from the human heart can only be that God descended and remained in the midst of us. Now, when we abandon our opinions, we walk towards Him in the Gospel and in the Eucharist, around which the Church is gathered. Dawn announces the rising of the sun. In the darkness of this night the pale aurora announces the rising of that Sun which is "center of the universe and of history" (Redemptor hominis, 1). Yet I tremble. Why?
About the Author
Stanislaw Grygiel is Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Anthropology at the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. Director of the Karol Wojtyla Chair at the Pontifical Institute John Paul II since 2004. Since 1980 he has lived in Rome. As visiting professor, he also teaches at the Pontifical Institute John Paul II in Washington (U.S.A.). From 1992 until 1997 he taught philosophical anthropology at the Academy of Theology in Lugano. Between 1990 and 1993 he taught the philosophy of man at Academy of the Holy Cross in Rome. From 1964 to 1980 he taught philosophy at the Seminary of Religious in Krakow. From 1968 to 1980 he taught philosophy at the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Krakow. From 1963 to 1980 he was editor of the Catholic, monthly "Znak" in Krakow.
He is co-founder and director of the magazine "Il Nuovo Areopago". He is a member of the editorial board of the Communio magazine (French version). He is also a member of the Polish Philosophical Society, of the Philosophical Society of Argentina, and of Academia Scientiarum et Artium Europea (Vienna).