God and the World
On Christmas: "As a mere
exchange of material goods, Christmas is coming under the power of
wanting-for-oneself; it is becoming the instrument of an insatiable
egoism and has fallen under the sway of possessions and of
power––whereas this event in fact brings us exactly the opposite
message. Pruning back Christmas so that it is once again simple would be
an enormous achievement."
The Wrath of God: "The wrath of God is a way of saying that I have been
living in a way that is contrary to the love that is God. Anyone who
begins to live and grow away from God, who lives away from what is good,
is turning his life toward wrath."
On True Love: "Love, in the true sense, is not always a matter of giving
way, being soft, and just acting nice. In that sense, a sugar-coated
Jesus or a God who agrees to everything and is never anything but nice
and friendly is no more than a caricature of real love. Because God
loves us, because he wants us to grow into truth, he must necessarily
make demands on us and must also correct us."
The Feminine: "It is theologically and anthropologically important for
woman to be at the center of Christianity. Through Mary, and the other
holy women, the feminine element stand at the heart of the Christian
religion. And this is not in competition with Christ. To think of Christ
and Mary as being in competition means ignoring the essential
distinctions between these two figures. . . . That is not a competition,
but a more profound kind of intimacy. The Mother and Virgin forms an
essential part of the Christian picture of man."
On Liturgy: "We do at least need a new liturgical consciousness, to be
rid of this spirit of arbitrary fabrication. Things have gone so far
that Sunday liturgy groups are cobbling together the liturgy for
themselves. . . . The most important thing today is that we should
regain respect for the liturgy and for the fact that it is not to be
The Spirit of the Liturgy
The Cross is the approbation of our existence, not
in words, but in an act so completely radical that it caused God to
become flesh and pierced this flesh to the quick; that, to God, it was
worth the death of his incarnate Son. One who is so loved that the other
identifies his life with this love and no longer desires to live if he
is deprived of it; one who is loved even unto death – such a one knows
that he is truly loved. But if God so loves us, then we are loved in
truth. Then love is truth, and truth is love. Then life is worth living.
This is the evangelium. This is why, even as the message of the
Cross, it is glad tidings for one who believes; the only glad tidings
that destroy the ambiguity of all other joys and make them worthy to be
joy. Christianity is, by its very nature, joy – the ability to be
The Christian faith can
never be separated from the soil of sacred events, from the choice made
by God, who wanted to speak to us, to become man, to die and rise again,
in a particular place and at a particular time. . . . The Church does
not pray in some kind of mythical omni-temporality. She cannot forsake
her roots. She recognizes the true utterance of God precisely in the
concreteness of its history, in time and place: to these God ties us,
and by these we are all tied together. The diachronic aspect, praying
with the Fathers and the apostles, is part of what we mean by rite, but
it also includes a local aspect, extending from Jerusalem to Antioch,
Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople. Rites are not, therefore, just the
products of inculturation, however much they may have incorporated
elements from different cultures. They are forms of the apostolic
Tradition and of its unfolding in the great places of the Tradition.
Unspontaneity is of their
essence. In these rites I discover that something is approaching me here
that I did not produce myself, that I am entering into something greater
than myself, which ultimately derives from divine revelation. This is
why the Christian East calls the liturgy the "Divine Liturgy",
expressing thereby the liturgy's independence from human control.
Dancing is not a form of
expression for the Christian liturgy. In about the third century, there
was an attempt in certain Gnostic-Docetic circles to introduce it into
the liturgy. For these people, the Crucifixion was only an appearance. .
. . Dancing could take the place of the liturgy of the Cross, because,
after all, the Cross was only an appearance. The cultic dances of the
different religions have different purposes - incantation, imitative
magic, mystical ecstasy - none of which is compatible with the essential
purpose of the liturgy as the "reasonable sacrifice". It is totally
absurd to try to make the liturgy "attractive" by introducing dancing
pantomimes (wherever possible performed by professional dance troupes),
which frequently (and rightly, from the professionals' point of view)
end with applause. Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because
of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy
has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious
entertainment. Such attraction fades quickly - it cannot compete in the
market of leisure pursuits, incorporating as it increasingly does
various forms of religious titillation.
This action of God, which
takes place through human speech, is the real "action" for which all
creation is in expectation. The elements of the earth are
transubstantiated, pulled, so to speak, from their creaturely anchorage,
grasped at the deepest ground of their being, and changed into the Body
and Blood of the Lord. The New Heaven and the New Earth are anticipated.
The real "action" in the liturgy in which we are all supposed to
participate is the action of God himself. This is what is new and
distinctive about the Christian liturgy: God himself acts and does what
Principles of Catholic Theology
Jesus dies because there are forces hostile to
truth; his obedience is fidelity to truth in conflict with the tangled
web of untruth. But it is precisely by obeying truth that he obeys both
the Father and the Scripture that he interprets by virtue of his
immediate relationship to God, that he thereby opens anew to his inmost
foundation, filling it with a new reality by his living of its word. His
relationship to the fundamental ground of being is a relationship of
real union with the fundamental truth – that is, “Sonship”:
in this relationship to God, the very letter becomes flesh.
Introduction to Christianity
In Jesus’ life from the Father, in the immediacy
and closeness of his association with him in prayer and indeed face to
face, he is God’s witness, through whom the intangible has become
tangible, the distant has drawn near. And further: he is not simply
the witness whose evidence we trust when he tells us what he had seen
in an existence which had already made the about-turn from a false
concentration on the foreground of life to the depths of the whole
truth; he is the presence of the eternal itself in this world
is Near Us: The Eucharist the Heart of Life
But that means that the Eucharist is far more than
just a meal; it has cost a death to provide it, and the majesty of death
is present in it. Whenever we hold it, we should be filled with
reverence in the face of this mystery, with awe in the face of this
mysterious death the becomes a present reality in our midst.
The Christian feast, the Eucharist, plumbs the very
depths of death. It is not just a matter of pious discourse and
entertainment, of some kind of religious beautification, spreading a
pious gloss on the world; it plumbs the very depths of existence, which
it call death . . . . what the tradition sums up in the sentence: The
Eucharist is a sacrifice, the presentation of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice
on the Cross.
The Eucharist is not itself the sacrament of
reconciliation, but in fact it presupposes that sacrament. It is
the sacrament of the reconciled, to which the Lord invites all those who
have become one with him; who certainly still remain weak sinners, but
yet have give their hand to him and have become part of his family.
That is why, from the beginning, the Eucharist has been preceded by a
Thus he makes his word come true: “I, when I am
lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12:32).
That is why we do not need to harbor the fear that motivated Luther to
protest against the Catholic idea of Mass as sacrifice, that thereby the
glory of Christ might be diminished, or that the “sacrifice was not
enough and that we ought to, or could, add something to it." Such
mistaken ideas may well have been current, but they have nothing to do
with the real meaning of the concept of the sacrificial character of the
God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald
It is certainly not by chance that people are nowadays turning again to
Mary, in whom Christianity becomes loveable again and close to us, and
we really do find the door again through the Mother.
Man was not just thrown up into the world by some
quirk of evolution. The underlying truth is that each person is
meant to exist. Each person is God’s own idea. Within everything that
just for the moment exist factually, a plan and an idea are at work, and
this gives meaning to my search for my own ideal self and to my
coexistence with the world and with the onward path of history.
There is one thing we must not forget: it has
always been the Mother who reached people in missionary situations and
made Christ accessible to them. That is especially true of Latin
America. Here, to some extent, Christianity arrived by way of Spanish
swords, with deadly heralds. In Mexico, at first, absolutely
nothing could be done about missionary work – until the occurrence for
the phenomenon at Guadalupe, and then the Son was suddenly near by way
of his Mother.
You can never predict in advance how things will
turn out. Anyone who is extrapolating the decline of the church in
academic, statistical fashion from the situation in Europe, is failing to
recognize the unpredictable nature of human history in general – and in
particular, God’s power to take the initiative by intervening, as he is
always able to do.
Initially, it was possible for people to think,
with respect to Lourdes, that this little girl had fantasized something.
And then it turned out after all the she herself was really there, the
The Church does not invent sins but recognizes the
will of God and has to declare it. Of course, the great thing . . . is
that upon the Church, which has to declare the will of God in its full
magnitude, in its unconditional rigor, so that man should know his true
measure, is bestowed as a gift, at the same time, the task of forgiving.
Salt of the Earth: Christianity and the Catholic
Church at the End of the Millennium: An Interview With Peter Seewald
When you are studying theology, your intention
is not to learn a trade but to understand the faith, and this
presupposes, as we said a while ago, using the words of Augustine,
that the faith is true, that, in other words, it opens the door to a
correct understanding of your own life, of the world and of men.
For me [becoming Prefect of the Congregation for
the Faith] the cost was that I couldn’t do full time what I hand
envisaged for myself, namely really contributing my thinking and
speaking to the great intellectual conversation of our time, by
developing an opus of my own. I had to descend to the little and
various things pertaining to factual conflicts and events. I had to
leave aside a great part of what would interest me and simply serve
and to accept that as my task. And I had to free myself from
the idea that I absolutely have to write or read this or that, I had
to acknowledge that my task is here.
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