Sunday, July 13, 2008

Reason must be broadened by experience

“The substance of the question is clarified in the struggle that unfolds in the way of understanding the relationship between reason and experience.” Reality, ours and all that we see, is a given, and reason – if it is true to itself, if it isn’t completely irreligious, if it isn’t disloyal with what it sees, if it doesn’t renounce its own nature, this urge to find the reasons for what lies before it – cannot end without acknowledging Him at work. We’re unreasonable because we don’t submit our reason, our way of thinking of God, of the Mystery, to what we experience. This is our irreligiosity, that is, not broadening reason to the point of acknowledging the given, the real, in its arising, which is the Mystery.

An instant is enough to realize this.

Listen to this beautiful dialogue between [the fictional] Peppone [the ex-partisan Communist mayor] and Don Camillo [the parish priest]:

“Peppone, exasperated, went and planted himself wide-legged in front of Don Camillo: ‘Could you possibly tell us what you want from us? Are we the ones, perhaps, who come to you?’

[Don Camillo answered]: ‘What’s that got to do with it? Even if you don’t come to church, God exists anyway, and is waiting for you.’

The Skinny One interjected, ‘Has the Reverend Father perhaps forgotten that we’re excommunicated?’

‘That’s a question of secondary importance’ shot back Don Camillo. ‘Even if you’re excommunicated, God continues to exist and continues to wait for you. Excuse me. I’m not registered in your party, I don’t participate in the People’s House [local headquarters for the Communist Party and labor union] and I’m considered an enemy of your party. Because of these facts, could I perhaps assert that Stalin doesn’t exist?’

‘Stalin exists, and how! And he’s lying in wait for you!’ Peppone bellowed.

Don Camillo smiled: ‘I don’t doubt it a bit and I’ve never doubted it. And if I admit that Stalin exists and is waiting for me, why can’t you admit that God exists and is waiting for you? Isn’t it the same thing?’

Peppone was struck by this elementary reasoning. But the Skinny One intervened: ‘The only difference is that while nobody has seen your God, Stalin can be seen and touched. And even if I haven’t seen and touched him, you can see and touch what Stalin has created: Communism!’

Don Camillo opened his arms wide: ‘And the world where we live, me, you, and Stalin, isn’t that perhaps something you see and touch?’”

This simple observation would be enough to help each of us acknowledge Him so present as to be the origin of everything. But if by chance “the heavens to gaze upon” we sang about don’t serve the purpose, aren’t enough, the Lord unfolds right before our eyes what we just saw in São Paulo, which is like a cry, “Wake up! What abstract thing can generate what you’ve seen?”.

The Lord has compassion and tenderness for each of us, so much so that He comes help us in our difficulties, bends down in front of our need and makes happen before our eyes something that helps us acknowledge Him, and one remains dumbstruck before what He does: His presence fills me with silence.

The silence isn’t because we have to be quiet, for reasons of good order. It is born of the event, and one remains speechless before what happens before our eyes. This is why we need to support each other in this silence that His presence in our midst generates during these days, offering the sacrifice that a gesture like this can’t help but generate, that the Lord may have pity on us.

(Spiritual Exercises of Communion and Liberation 2008, p 8-9)

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