North Western Winds

Contemplating it all from the great Pacific Northwest

Having vs. Being

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Every being, everything created, is a mystery: and so are the evils that come about. This appeal to mystery Job had heard already and rejected. After all, it may be precisely the mystery that gives scandal – scandal, that is, in the etymological sense, the thing that causes us to trip and fall down. But it may also, as Pascal said, be something to be reverenced. The parting of the ways between revolt and worship lies very deep down, at the secret center of the heart, where we make the choice either to be ourselves the supreme arbiters or frankly to admit that God infinitely transcends us. What it comes to, ultimately, is that our frank acceptance of our condition as a creatures must be more than intellectual, it must also be lived out. As the creator’s partners by virtue of our freedom, we have to realize our condition as unequal partners of the living God and so voluntarily submit to be lead where he wills.

For this it is necessary that we encounter him personally, not to argue with him any more, but to be ourselves questioned and freely submit. God’s whole treatment of souls that he seeks to draw to him aims as getting them to say “yes” at an ever deeper level first by conversion and faith, then by entering upon the successive stages of spiritual life. But conversion is effected by putting oneself in the presence of the living God at an existential state, a point where there is nothing but him and our true selves, from which he has brushed away, as it were, the various “havings” that serve us as alibis and lead us to evade the decisive issues of “being.”

Father Yves Congar, O.P., taken from A Word in Season, Readings for the Liturgy of the Hours.


The Wikkipedia entry for Father Congar is here, and a more detailed look at his relationship to the Church can be found here.

Ignatious press is carrying at least one book by Congar, The Meaning of Tradition. If the introduction on the website is any indication, anyone inclined to think that conservatism isn’t inherently hostile to intellectual development might find it worthwhile. Congar has interesting things to say about the relationship between innovation and tradition:

In the seventeenth century it was current to base the “perpetuity of the faith” on one or other of the articles of faith, the Real Presence, for example, or the primacy of the Pope. This was done by going through the testimony left by successive generations. Proofs of this kind, often reduced to two or three passages isolated from their historical and philological context, are to be found in our theological manuals, under the somewhat laconic heading Probatur ex Traditione (Proved from Tradition), following the heading Probatur ex Scriptura (Proved from Scripture). Today, however, this appeal to “tradition” is made in a new way; ressourcement (a return to the sources) is in fashion. This splendid word, coined by Charles Péguy, implies a return to the origins, or more often an advance to the present day, starting from the origins. This idea springs from Péguy’s conception of revolution and reform as “the appeal made by a less perfect tradition to one more perfect; the appeal made by a shallower tradition to one more profound; the withdrawal of tradition to reach a new depth, to carry out research at a deeper level; a return to the source, in the literal sense.”

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Written by Curt

September 2, 2006 at 10:20 am

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