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“Grasp the real questions” – Part I

“it is important to move beyond the changing questions of the moment in order to grasp the real questions, and so to understand how the answers are real answers… it is completely mistaken to start questioning their practical value by asking: Will this be helpful to me in the future? Will it be practically or pastorally useful? The point is not simply to learn evidently useful things, but to understand and appreciate the internal structure of the faith as a whole, so that it can become a response to people’s questions, which on the surface change from one generation to another yet ultimately remain the same.”

These are some of the words of Pope Benedict XVI in his special Address to the Seminarians at the end of the Year of Priests. The content though, is powerful and useful to any person interested in grasping “the real questions”. This important address also fits in well with the previous post on the importance of the ‘signs of the times’ and responding to culture. We need both, to be in tune with the issues that are important to our times, while grounded in the issues that are eternal. A deep grounding in theology and philosophy was recommended by the Pope, and this will be the subject of the next post when we look at Boethius. For now, some of the highlights, though the full speech is recommended.

  • people will always have need of God, even in an age marked by technical mastery of the world and globalization. . Where people no longer perceive God, life grows empty; nothing is ever enough. People then seek escape in euphoria and violence; these are the very things that increasingly threaten young people. God is alive.
  • For us God is not some abstract hypothesis; he is not some stranger who left the scene after the “big bang”. God has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. In the face of Jesus Christ we see the face of God. In his words we hear God himself speaking to us.
  • love the study of theology and carry it out in the clear realization that theology is anchored in the living community of the Church, which, with her authority, is not the antithesis of theological science but its presupposition. Cut off from the believing Church, theology would cease to be itself and instead it would become a medley of different disciplines lacking inner unity.
  • The Movements are a magnificent thing. You know how much I esteem them and love them as a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. Yet they must be evaluated by their openness to what is truly Catholic, to the life of the whole Church of Christ, which for all her variety still remains one

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