15th November, the feast of St Albert the Great, patron of scientists, saw the launch of the new (free) online review HUMANUM: Issues in Family, Culture, and Science, edited by Stratford Caldecott for the John Paul II Institute in Washington. It is all about “the human”: what makes us human, what keeps us human, and how to rescue our humanity when this is endangered. Our aim is to pick our way with discernment through the flood of publications (some good, some confused, some pernicious) that claim to tell us about ourselves, about family, marriage, love, children, health, and human life.
Humanum has a particular concern with issues that directly affect the poor and the vulnerable in our society. Each issue will have a main theme around which the reviews and articles cluster, and we begin with an issue on THE CHILD, because this reveals the foundation of our perspective on humanity: the child is the purest revelation of man and his relationship to Being. The lead article is a major piece by the Editor of Communio, Prof. David L. Schindler, which goes right to the heart of our present cultural malaise.
Pope Benedict and Assisi III – a (admittedly belated) roundup of coverage and commentary, at The Benedict Blog.
War is a curious part of the human condition. It is a summary of the worst that Man is capable of: violence on a massive scale, cruelty, greed, hatred, and the magnification of every human vice. Few of us are more “anti-war” than those who have had the misfortune to fight in one and witnessed all the folly, loss and endless pain produced by the inability of men to frequently resolve their differences without resort to the sword. Yet, in war we also see men rise to the heights of what we are capable of at our best: self-sacrifice, courage, love and the magnification of every human virtue. War as the direst of human institutions is to be bitterly regretted, but we must ever pay homage to those who find themselves in this terrible maelstrom and acquit themselves with honor.
And so on Veteran’s Day we honor all those who took time out from their regular lives to stand between the rest of us and danger. We especially remember those silent heroes who paid the ultimate price for us and who never came home. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13) Our gratitude, praise and thanks is small enough compensation, but it is the poor best we can give. We are creations of a loving God, and when we return love for love we demonstrate that.
— Donald R. McClarey, American Catholic
Dear friends, the Solemnity of All Saints and the Commemoration of the faithful departed tell us that only he who is able to recognize a great hope in death is able also to live a life that springs from hope. If we reduce man exclusively to his horizontal dimension, to what can be perceived empirically, life itself loses its profound meaning. Man needs eternity — and every other hope, for him, is all too brief, is all too limited. Man is explainable only if there is a Love that overcomes all isolation — even that of death — in a totality that transcends even space and time. Man is explainable — he finds his deepest meaning — only if God is. And we know that God has gone forth from the distance and has made Himself close; He has entered into our lives and He tells us: “I am the Resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).
Image lifted from Wheat and Weeds
Let us think for a moment of the scene at Calvary and let us listen once again to the words that Jesus addressed on the Cross to the robber crucified at his right: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Let us think of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, when — after having travelled a stretch of road with the Risen Jesus — they recognize Him and quickly set out toward Jerusalem to announce the Lord’s resurrection (cf. Luke 24:13-35). The Master’s words come to mind with renewed clarity: “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:1-2).
God has truly appeared; He has become accessible; He has so loved the world “that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16), and in the supreme act of love — in the Cross — plunging into the abyss of death, He conquered it, He rose and He opened the doors of eternity also to us. Christ sustains us through the night of death, which He himself traversed: He is the Good Shepherd, in whose guidance we can trust without any fear, since He knows well the road, even in obscurity.
Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, November 2, 2011.