Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Man's Definition Depends on Relations

Man is only fully himself when he is in relation, which cannot happen when he is "alone", that is, in Original Solitude without another person to be in communion with. The Pope thus stresses that man can only reach his fullness through relations. To cash that in, he is stating that we are all fully human when we are the subject of relations and when we are the subject of other's relations. It is through others that we find who we are. Remember, we are made in the image and likeness of God. God is three divine Persons yet one nature. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They each are defined in relation to the other Persons of the Trinity. So too is it for man and woman. We come to know who we are through our relations with not only other people, but especially through our relations with those of the opposite sex. This is to build on the fact that, though different, the difference between male and female is a complementary difference, one that brings the fullness of each person through their relations with another person of the opposite sex.

It is through communion that a loving relationship comes about in which they each use what is distinct to them, and thus we come to understand the meaning of our sexual difference and our call to sexual communion.

It is important to note here what one means by communion. One can be called to communion in many different ways, all fulfilled through their vocation. Married people are called to express that sexual communion in a loving and intimate way through the nuptial embrace. Single people, Religious, and Priests can have a loving and intimate friendship with someone of the opposite sex, but one that is not expressed in the nuptial embrace. Sexual communion is something that is relative to the person's state in life, and does not entail having the nuptial embrace to be a part of it. Love can be expressed in many different ways. This all represents a deep inner truth of the Trinity. This is not saying that the Trinity is a sexual communion, it is not, but it is a loving communion, one which is expressed most perfectly through the communion of persons between a male and a female. This is why, no matter what one's vocation is, that it is important to have a friend to love and adore of the opposite sex. Some of the greatest Saints have been in pairs: St Francis and St Claire, St Benedict and St Scholastica, St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross. This shows the importance of that deep and loving friendship, because of the complimentary differences between male and female that help the other grow in holiness.

This communion of persons shows us how to come to know the God too. We come to him in what the Pope would call a subjective and phenomenological way. What that means is that it is a personal way (subjective) that we come to know God, and that knowledge we gain in a personal way is our experiencing of God (phenomenological). We experience God in a personal way, making the faith a personal one through an intimate and personal relationship with Christ as the Catechism states. Through experiencing God, we come to know the truths of the faith in a personal way. This means that those objective truths can be known on a personal level, thus bringing together personal experience and objective truth, something the that is very new in the history of ideas.

We thus come to know ourselves more fully by giving ourselves more fully out of love. This means a humbling of self, a willingness of the Holy Spirit further conforming our hearts to the Divine will of God. Thus by knowing God out of full love, we get to know our real selves even more. This is why we become our real selves in Heaven, when we are enveloped in God's love for all eternity in which we praise and glorify God out of love for Him. This is why God is, for JP II, not the Divine Object, but the Divine Subject. If God is an object, He is something we can use. God is a Subject because He is someone we relate to in a most intimate and personal way. Subjects deserve dignity and respect through their relations with others.

This will all be used later on when being applied to vocations and how all vocations fulfill this communion of persons. Also, the idea of sexual love and communion is only a temporal response to man's yearning for an eternal love and communion with God. This is all important to keep in consideration for later.


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