Friday, August 15, 2008

Veritatis Splendor (Splendor of Truth)

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Clayton Emmer, former Minnesotan, now living in Los Angeles and blogging at The Weight of Glory, is in the process of posting his annotated version of Pope John Paul II's wonderful encyclical, Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth) on its fifteenth anniversary. He has posted it in several parts.

The Splendor of Truth

Today is the fifteenth anniversary of John Paul II's encyclical letter Veritatis Splendor ("The Splendor of Truth").

I've been thinking a lot about this particular letter lately. Its critique of contemporary trends in moral theology seems even more prophetic now. I think, in particular, about all of the arguments being presented by dissenters in the Church today re: contraception, homosexuality, etc. Of course, these arguments were around at the time the letter was written, and they haven't changed much since. The voices of dissent have, in many cases, simply become more shrill and, in some quarters, unquestioned... a "dictatorship of relativism", as then-Cardinal Ratzinger aptly named it.

Veritatis Splendor is perhaps one of the most difficult letters of JPII to digest, as it makes deep forays into philosophy to make its case. It was one of the first letters of JPII I ever encountered, and, in retrospect, I think it's one I most appreciate because I really had to grapple with it, to work at understanding his arguments and his thesis. MORE August 6, 2008

The True Light that Enlightens Everyone
In this post, I'll continue exploring the contents of Veritatis Splendor. Here is the introduction to the text:Jesus Christ, the true light that enlightens everyone

1. Called to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, "the true light that enlightens everyone" (Jn 1:9), people become "light in the Lord" and "children of light" (Eph 5:8), and are made holy by "obedience to the truth" (1 Pet 1:22).

This obedience is not always easy. As a result of that mysterious original sin, committed at the prompting of Satan, the one who is "a liar and the father of lies" (Jn 8:44), man is constantly tempted to turn his gaze away from the living and true God in order to direct it towards idols (cf. 1 Thes 1:9), exchanging "the truth about God for a lie" (Rom 1:25). Man's capacity to know the truth is also darkened, and his will to submit to it is weakened. Thus, giving himself over to relativism and scepticism (cf. Jn 18:38), he goes off in search of an illusory freedom apart from truth itself. More August 10, 2008

The Purpose of Veritatis Splendor
At the end of the introduction to his encyclical letter on moral theology, Pope John Paul II lays out clearly the purpose of the document he is presenting.4. At all times, but particularly in the last two centuries, the Popes, whether individually or together with the College of Bishops, have developed and proposed a moral teaching regarding the many different spheres of human life. In Christ's name and with his authority they have exhorted, passed judgment and explained. In their efforts on behalf of humanity, in fidelity to their mission, they have confirmed, supported and consoled. With the guarantee of assistance from the Spirit of truth they have contributed to a better understanding of moral demands in the areas of human sexuality, the family, and social, economic and political life. In the tradition of the Church and in the history of humanity, their teaching represents a constant deepening of knowledge with regard to morality.8 MORE August 14, 2008


Someone came to Him (Mt 19:16)
In this post, I'll begin unpacking the first chapter for Veritatis Splendor, John Paul II's encyclical letter on the moral life. The letter begins with an extended meditation on the story of the rich young man who approaches Jesus with a question.

CHAPTER I -

"TEACHER, WHAT GOOD MUST I DO...? " (Mt 19:16) -
Christ and the answer to the question about morality


"Someone came to him..." (Mt 19:16)

6. The dialogue of Jesus with the rich young man, related in the nineteenth chapter of Saint Matthew's Gospel, can serve as a useful guide for listening once more in a lively and direct way to his moral teaching:
"Then someone came to him and said, 'Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?' And he said to him, 'Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments. 'He said to him, 'Which ones?' And Jesus said, 'You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honour your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbour as yourself.' The young man said to him, 'I have kept all these; what do I still lack?' Jesus said to him, 'If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me' " (Mt 19:16-21).13
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