WHEN LOVE BEGINS

One of the great achievements of the sciences in the last decades is the discovery that we are free to determine who we become. We are autonomous. While this is true, the aphorism that no man is an island remains true today as it’s always been. We flourish best when we rely on others, especially on God. So in this vein, the human person is most flourishing when he or she is in a relationship with others. God recognized that man should not be alone, and so remedy his situation by providing for him a suitable partner. It is in this partner that he finds his identify. It is in his mate that he discovers that he is meant to live in a relationship. It is this partner that allowed the man to break the silence for the first time. “ This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2:23). Man furthers realizes that his relationship flourishes when he is living in a communion of persons. It is when he gives himself as a total, selfless, free, and reciprocal gift that transcends his very being that he finds happiness.

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This picture fits man best before the original fall. With the fall, man’s mind and body were opened to disorder. A kind of hiatus is created between he and his creator. It throws a veil before his eyes. He no longer sees the other as companion, but rather as objects to be used. He no longer sees the other as a gift for he can now “see”. He doubts the goodness of the creator and begins to see God as a rival who limits his freedom. He no longer sees his or her human nature as a gift received from the creator. “His communion with the other is transformed into a relationship of domination over the other”. That’s never been the plan however.

What does all this tell us? There was indeed a time when we were autonomous because we were in harmony with God. That was before the fall. Then we did not see as if in a mirror. Now we must understand that we are not capable of sound choices anymore because we failed. Yes, we are free to determine whatever we want to become, but the fall conditions that becoming. We cannot become something that left its mark on the hearts of others without God. We are free as long as we live and move and have our being in the law of God. So, to truly love in a way that live a scar in the soul, we must be monitored by the author of love himself.

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Though the tendency to see the other as an object to be used–erotic love is a reality, but if our lives are monitored by the law established by God, that love will be transformed into agapic love. If struggle there is, if consistency is a challenge, that’s no reason to give up; we must not settle for the basics; greatness is our destiny. To make our life a masterpiece is the goal. That’s achievable not on our effort alone. The man Jesus Christ is our advocate and lodestar showing us how to get there. We need to rely heavily on his grace who epitomizes how we were meant to be and live. He redeemed us from the curse of the fall. We are not autonomous outside of that redeemer. Our self-determination will always be filled with frustration unless we understand that there is no freedom outside of the bubble, so to speak, created by God for us after the fall.

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State of The Union

ImageAny proposal must today answer a very basic question— ‘What is in it for me?’ Those who know about it prey and thrive on it. It constitutes the backbone of all TV and Radio commercials. They all aim at satisfying “our” desires. Persuasively answering this question decides the success or failure of all new products. This way of thinking pervades all fields of studies.

This what’s-in-it-for-me attitude is the driving force behind almost all our actions. That attitude makes us act on desires most of the time rather than reason. We become, as a result, the object, of what Nietzsche called, the “Overman”. We turn ourselves into herd exposed to the mercy of the Overman, the powerful. That’s the case because we are cooperating with our exploiters.

This way of thinking is at its height right now. It is started with the scientific revolution. They squarely jettisoned two of the four causes — formal and efficient discovered by Aristotle— to focus solely and completely on the material and final cause. So basically, they reject the nature of things because, as they said, that does not put food on the table. Again, it is the what’s-in-it-for-me attitude that’s behind that rejection. What is the consequences of all this?

No longer do they look for purpose in things; they themselves concoct purpose. To find the purpose of a thing, we use to either ask the person who makes it or observe what a thing naturally does. To fulfill their agenda, they first and foremost reject the idea of a Creator-God as the one who gives meaning and purpose to everything. This easy way out gives us to Marxism, communism and their little brothers. When they became too much to handle, we fall to pure materialism, atheism, …and post-modernism, which cannot even be defined. Progress becomes the real truth. Human beings are not seen as a material and immaterial element striving to be the best version of himself/herself; matter becomes the material out of which he is made. So, instead of looking up (immateriality), we look down (materiality).

 Due to this attitude, we don’t even realize that our colleges are no longer places that empower men and women to seek truth, happiness and the wisdom of life. They simply become a “training wall street”—place that teaches how to make money. That’s an assessment of the situation after all.

The victim in all this is the human person. There is no such thing about human dignity per se. The dignity of a person lies in what he can do or the amount of money and power he possesses. Human being comes to define no longer as a way of being, but as what’s culturally accepted.

This behavior has unforeseen consequence that cannot be mentioned here. For my part, I believe there will be a day when we will rise from the dunghill in which we are. We will pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and ennoble the being that we are. We seem to be sleeping. We all know money, success, pleasure, and appreciation that we so crave for cannot satiate the being that we are. We need to stand for truth, for one another, for kindness, peace, justice, and charity. We stand at a very dangerous intersection. We have a choice to make. Being created as the “crown of creation”, we were made for greatness, but currently our choices only our mediocrity.

ImageGood and intelligent folks, the reality is that we are a being between animals and angels. We can both great and vile. As a result, we will always struggle to choose greatness and vileness, truth and falsity, and light and darkness. This is our facticity, but giving up cannot be an option. We are not alone here. As important as we are, we cannot settle for low. We must pick out our mat and start walking toward our true destination. We must change direction. We must wake up from this slumber. Each one of us must take our destiny in our own hand while seeking to know why we are here, where we are to go, and so what is the proper way to act. Only one path leads to joy. Don’t choose randomly. Ask if you have to.