Summer 2005. Love
Table of Contents
Love: no one can be happy without it, yet just what it is is not easy to say—especially today, when the word has become so cheapened that it is somewhat risky to let it stand alone and unadorned on the cover of a theological journal. What has the sentimental feeling called love got to do with the serious business of theology?
And yet, a logos about ho theos such as theology purports to be cannot avoid the topic of love, for the inner substance of this logos, the ground of
its logos-character, is itself love, since, as Saint John famously puts it, “God is love.” By the same token, a good way to get at what love is is to start “from above”—from the highest instance of love in the world: God’s gift of his Only-Begotten Son for our sakes—and to see what light it then casts on our ambiguous human experience of love as it hovers between the banal and the glorious, the demonic
and the divine.
Such, at any rate, is the method we have chosen to pursue in this Summer 2005 issue of Communio, whose title theme is Love. Might it not be that this method will help us see (anew) how
love, as Hans Urs von Balthasar once put it, is not just a fine feeling, but the “light of being” itself, the very “being-ness” of being as it were? Surely we need this knowledge more than any other when the troubles of the world threaten to break our confidence in the
goodness of reality.
In “Eternal Happening: God as an Event of Love,” Antonio López draws on Balthasar’s theology to explain how it is that we can speak of God as an event: the trinitarian processions are acts of self-giving; because of them, eternal divine perfection contains an
“excessive” fruitfulness that makes God’s being the inexhaustible surprise par excellence.
Livio Melina’s “Epiphany of Love: Morality,
Cosmology, and Culture” accompanies our contemplation from the Trinity down to creation: the epiphany of love in the world, Melina argues, depends on the unity of love and work, thanks to which man recapitulates on the level of culture the intention of gift inscribed in
nature: to be received and cultivated within the communion of persons.
Margaret H. McCarthy, writing in “‘Husbands, love your wives as your own bodies’: Is Nuptial Love a Case of Love or Its
Paradigm?” takes up the theme of the communion of persons,
arguing that the love between man and woman unites similarity and difference in a uniquely pregnant way that makes it the analogatum princeps of human love, which integrates so-called “physical” and
“ecstatic” love in a satisfying whole.
In “Love, Action, and Vows as ‘Inner Form’ of the Moral Life,” David S. Crawford makes a
complementary argument that the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience are the intrinsic telos of all human love and so have foundational significance for the inner form of moral action, whose objective structure is to be a response in love to love.
Michael Meerson’s “The Icon as a Visual Proof of Personal Immortality” brings an Orthodox voice into our discussion of love (and thereby illustrates, once again, that there is nothing Orthodoxy affirms that
a Catholic cannot embrace as his own): the icon, a window through which the sacred person looks at you, enables you to discover yourself as part of a communion joining eternity and time, and so to discover yourself as a person, for to be a person is to be in communion.
Finally, in “Loving the World and More Than the World: Tragedy and Transcendence in Paul Claudel’s The Satin Slipper,” Holger Zaborowski sheds light on much-misunderstood, much-maligned eros, the transcendence towards the more-than-worldly that
makes possible the world as a tragic stage and that achieves its fulfillment precisely in letting go and becoming room for the more-than-tragic, “send[ing] itself into lowliness, and becom[ing] open for
the will of God, for his straight writing, rediscovering in his will its
Few people in our time have better understood the unity of
logos and love, personified in Christ, than the current occupant of the Chair of Peter, Benedict XVI. Our second theme, Joseph Ratzinger on God and the Crisis of Culture, brings together two talks given by the
Pope shortly before his election to the papacy that illustrate, in different contexts, the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s conviction that because God is love, he is light, and because he is light, the reality that flows from him makes sense—not the truncated sense of rationalism, but the sense that being makes because it is trustworthy “all the way down” to the Father who is at its origin. In “Europe and the Crisis of Cultures,” Ratzinger unmasks the irrationality of Enlightenment rationalism, in order then to show that Christianity (alone) safeguards reason, because it (alone) makes reason spring from a creative Reason that is love.
The second piece, “The Renewal of Moral Theology: Perspectives of Vatican II and Veritatis
splendor,” argues that Veritatis splendor challenges moral theology to appropriate the christological vision of the council. Christ, the Logos made flesh, brings (biblical) history and rationality into unity; he unites freedom and reason to their Source and so reveals man to
himself. Here, too, love is the light of being.
Our third theme, Biotechnology and Morality, Part III, consists of David L. Schindler’s critique of the latest variant on Altered Nuclear Transfer, “Oocyte Assisted Reprogramming” (OAR). In “A
Response to the Joint Statement, ‘Production of Pluripotent Stem Cells by Oocyte Assisted Reprogramming,’” Schindler argues that the recent statement recommending OAR over the signatures of some 35 notable pro-life scholars begs questions that a defender of life ought to want to have settled before endorsing something like
OAR. Schindler’s argument makes clear what is at stake in the debate surrounding ANT and bio-engineering in general: is there, in living nature, and especially in living human nature, a mystery that can have been put there only by creative love? A mystery, then, that physically limits what human beings can actually control and so
morally limits what they should want to try to control?
Finally, Notes and Comments continues our commemoration of one of the great ressourcement theologians of the last century: Louis Bouyer. Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger’s “Homily for the Funeral
Mass of Father Louis Bouyer” recalls Bouyer as a pioneer of ecclesial renewal and a vir ecclesiasticus rooted in the Church’s tradition.
Jean Duchesne, in “Who’s (Still) Afraid of Louis Bouyer?” complements Lustiger’s homily with a presentation of important elements of Bouyer’s theological profile: his concern for the unity of theology and spirituality; his concern for Scripture as the living Word of God; his passion for ecumenism; his involvement in the arts and literature; his sympathy with, and love for, Anglo-Saxon culture.
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