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"I become a thousand men and yet remain myself": Self-Love in Joseph Ratzinger and Georges Bernanos.

'"Each is the farthest away from himself'--as far as ourselves are concerned we are not knowers."


"O God, I pray you to let me know myself."


THESE TWO QUOTATIONS preface Walker Percy's Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book (1) and act as an interpretive key to the underlying argument of the book that cryptically reveals the oxymoronic nature of self-help. That is, self-help is like trying to pull oneself out of a bog by pulling on one's own hair. (2) According to Percy, we can only know ourselves through God, hence Augustine's prayer. There is a remarkable parallel between self-knowledge as laid out by Percy and self-love according to Joseph Ratzinger. In both cases the self is only that which is in relation to God. Accordingly, like self-knowledge, it is only through loving God that one loves the self. Yet, in saying that one is struck by the paradoxical nature of self-love. If love of God equates to love of self can we properly speak of self-love, or would it be better to excise the first half of the compound word (self), so that we would simply be left with love? The concept of self-love raises another quandary: how can we reconcile the dominical statements about denying the self, losing one's life in order to save it, (3) or even hating one's life in order to follow Christ (4) with "you shall love your neighbor as yourself"? (5)

The subject of self-love also repeatedly comes to the fore with the protagonist in Georges Bernanos's Mouchette and The Diary of a Country Priest. It is my contention that Ratzinger's account of self-love, which is based on a relational ontology, elucidates the actions of the protagonists and adds another level of depth that is consistent with the theme of the novels. In what follows we shall examine Ratzinger's view of love, the self and the human person, and penultimately self-love. Finally, we shall turn to Bernanos and look at what light Ratzinger sheds on this great French novelist and how in turn these two authors provide an answer to the aforementioned questions.

I. Love

What is love? Ratzinger's fundamental reflection on love echoes Josef Pieper's notion that love signifies affirmation: "It is good that you exist; it's good that you are in this world!" (6) With this phrase we hear the affirmation "and it was very good" of Genesis, and this connects us to another important aspect of love that Pieper highlights: unity. Looking at the root of the word love, he writes, "amor and amare have something to do 'with the radical notion of likeness.' More specifically, they are related to the Greek hama ('at the same time'), the Latin similis and English 'same.'" (7) Herein lies the connection with the affirmation of Genesis: love is based on a pre-existent relationship. That is, we can love because God loved us first (i Jn 4:19). The premise of love is relational unity. Thus, love is not simply union but reunion. It is the reuniting of what was broken in the Fall.

Love is the affirmation of one's existence. There are two sides to this coin. First, the lover delights in the very being of the beloved and not simply in her attributes. This is the ecstatic outward movement that is directed to the other and for the sake of the other. Here the lover is blind to his own needs or wants, and this brings us back to creation. In an article on creation Rowan Williams lucidly writes, "God loves us so that we may come to our highest good, not so that God's good may be served." (8) Creation does not serve a divine need; similarly, affirmative finite love begins as a selfless movement. However, in the second moment the outward movement returns back upon the lover like a boomerang: (9) "It is only in a second moment (not of time but of fact) that the lover discovers that in this way, because your existence is good, my own existence too has become better, more precious, happier. By saying 'yes' to another, to 'you,' I receive myself made new and can now in a new way say 'yes' to myself thanks to you." (10) Be that as it may, the "second moment" cannot switch places with the first, for if it does it defeats both; first things must come first. (11)

The affirmative yes that makes anew is, for Ratzinger, clearly a creative act. He goes so far as to call it a new creation. (12) What this means is that biological birth is insufficient and incomplete; a baby needs his mother's affirmative love as much as his mother's milk. Affirmative love endows the beloved with personality, with a true "I." Thus, the lover becomes a creator, albeit a co-creator, who participates in the making of a person. In this way human love mirrors God's love as expressed in both creation and redemption. Creation ex nihilo was an act of love--God's first Yes. His second Yes, a yes far more powerful than our no, was manifest by Christ on the cross. By making Christ's redemptive Yes my yes I am born again and made a participant in the life of Christ. With Christ's Yes "we have been asked to continue his creation, to be co-creators, by giving being to the other in a new way in the affirmation of love--letting the gift of love now really become a gift." (13)

The boomerang movement of love foreshadows self-love and brings us back to the notion of love as unity. Another way of expressing unity as such is to say that we can love because the other is loveable, or the unity of love is intrinsic to our very being. Therefore, through the act of love we affirm our being. In other words, by loving another we are being true to ourselves. As a result, it only makes sense that love rebounds, that it is dialogical. Ratzinger provides a powerful image of this in his description of the goal of creation, which is based on the notion of exitus and reditus. (14) Exitus is God's free act of creation in which he brings about a contingent other as something good and real. Ratzinger argues that it is God's will that the other "should exist as something good in relation to himself, from which a response of freedom and love can be given back to him." (15) Reditus, the free act of response and return, is man's coming home to himself. The outward movement (exitus) is created for the movement of return (reditus). What is important to highlight is the notion of return as a homecoming. In this return we are united and made complete. We are made to be in unity--we are loveable.

There is one other aspect that is important. In the affirmation and confirmation of the beloved the lover indirectly affirms being in general. As many of us have experienced, love makes the world look much rosier: "The lover would as it were like to embrace the whole world in and with his beloved. The encounter with the one person restores the whole to me afresh." (16) In this sense, the lover is given a god-like vantage point in which he can recognize the goodness and lovableness of all people. Quoting Goethe, and contra Freud, (17) Pieper writes, "A heart that loves one person cannot hate anyone." (18) The rosy experience of love extends "it is good that you exist" to "it is good" and presupposes the goodness of being that is vouchsafed by God. He grounds our love in the reality of his good creation. Hence, Ratzinger maintains that "love needs truth," (19) the truth that being is good, (20) and therefore I can truly love. II.

II. Relational Ontology

Before we can examine self-love we must look at the notion of the self. What is it that makes the self the "I"? Or more broadly, what is the person? God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are persons in the fullest sense. Ratzinger maintains that "they are real existing relations.... In God, person means relation. Relation, being related, is not something superadded to the person, but it is the person itself." (21) Thus, God is not a purely egotistical being, for "the true God is, of his own nature, being-for (Father), being-from (Son), and being-with (Holy Spirit)." (22) Ratzinger argues that his relational structure is laid out in Johannine theology. To make his point Ratzinger quotes two verses from John's Gospel: "The Son can do nothing of his own accord" (Jn 5:19), and "I and the Father are one" (Jn 10:30). The relational structure given here is then transferred from Christ to his disciples when Christ says, "Apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn 15:5), and he prays "that they may be one, even as we are one" (Jn 17:11). (23) God calls the disciples into the pure relationality of his trinitarian relation, and "it is in this way that he [the human person] truly comes to himself and into the fullness of his own, because he enters into the unity with the one to whom he is related." (24) The human person is created in such a manner that he finds his home in returning to God, the movement of reditus. The human person is created for relation; he is called out of himself. But has Ratzinger leaped too far by defining the human person in light of the trinitarian person? This is where Ratzinger turns to Christology, and it is through Christology that his Johannine claims make sense, where human and divine persons come together.

Christ, so maintains Ratzinger, is the fullest expression of the human person; thus, Christ is referred to as the "second/last Adam" (i Cor 15:45). With the Chalcedonian definition in mind--Christ has two natures that form one person (25)--Ratzinger makes three interrelated points. First, he argues that "the human person is all the more with itself, and is itself, the more it is able to reach beyond itself, the more it is with the other, then the person is all the more itself the more it is with the wholly other, with God." (26) He makes this argument by distinguishing the nature of spirit from the nature of matter. The spirit is that which is and knows and has itself. It is its nature to put itself in relation. Thus, it knowingly throws itself forward into relation and is never more itself. Whereas, matter is that which is thrown upon itself. (27) This is the distinguishing feature between the human spirit and other forms of creation. Therefore, what constitutes the human person is relationality. The more the human person transcends herself the more she is herself. (28)

Second, Christ is the ultimate reality of being with the other, for in him two natures are held together--divine and human. Ratzinger concludes that "in Christ, in the man who is completely with God, human existence is not canceled, but comes to its highest possibility, which consists in transcending itself into the absolute and in the integration of its own relativity into the absoluteness of divine love." (29)

Third, Christology takes us beyond Martin Buber's notion of the I-Thou relationship. The dialogical relationship always includes a "we." Christ is the space in which, as Christians, we all gather. In Christ I am brought into relationship with every other person who is hid with Christ in God (Col 3:3). Ratzinger argues that Christ "is not only an example that is followed, but he is the integrating space in which the 'we' of human beings gathers itself toward the 'you' of God." (30) Consequently, he concludes that '"the Body of Christ' means that all human beings are one organism, the destiny of the whole the proper destiny of each." (31) That is not to say there is no I but that the I is always known and judged in relation to the whole, to the we. By being myself I am in fellowship. (32) Or, as beautifully described by Desmond Tutu, "My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours." (33)

III. Self-Love

Now that the preliminary pieces have been put together we can turn to self-love. Ratzinger argues that self-love excludes egoism. Egoism is what we could call navel-gazing. It is the solipsistic tendency we inherit in the academy from Descartes's "I think, therefore I am." In response, Ratzinger approvingly quotes Franz Xaver von Baader's witty reworking of Descartes's cogito: "I am thought, therefore I am." (34) The navel-gazing of the egoist is an inward turn, in which the navel-gazer is cau ght in a vicious circle--what Ratzinger calls the anthropological circle. (35) The navel-gazer hopes that in turning inward to the self he will achieve self-realization. However, what actually happens is that the "ego becomes objectionable, annoying, and unsatisfactory. It dissolves itself into a thousand forms, and in the end all that remains is the flight from oneself, the inability to stand oneself," (36) and the recourse to harmful activities.

Why does navel-gazing conclude with a flight from self? The answer is simple: the human spirit is only truly itself in relationship. It goes against the grain to seek self-realization by first turning inward. We are "shot towards our destination like an arrow," (37) and the target is divine relationship. The inward gaze of the egoist fails to do what love does: affirm and confirm existence, presuppose and create unity, and expose the goodness of being. The inward gaze cannot confirm or affirm my existence, for this can only be given as a gift, a yes given to us by another. Likewise, navel-gazing presupposes autonomy rather than unity, and therefore unity is impossible. Finally, egoism cannot see the goodness of being because it only looks inward. The I is only seen aright through the we.

Therefore, self-love is an outward movement. I love myself by loving another. This works in two ways. First, self-love as an outward movement conforms to reality. (38) In loving another we are being true to what it means to be a human person, and consequently we are being true to the self. As Ratzinger poetically mused, "Man finds his centre of gravity, not inside, but outside himself. The place to which he is anchored is not, as it were, within himself but without." (39) To live contrary to this would cause inevitable harm. Second, the boomerang effect of love affirms the lover's existence. C. S. Lewis pithily stated, "The good of one self is to be the good of another." (40) While the navel-gazer is cau ght in the destructive anthropological circle, the one who affirms the other enters into a "healing circle, a circle of salvation" (41) in which the I is expanded and enriched. This is ultimately seen in our relationship with Christ. He offers to us the greatest affirmatory Yes. (42) In return, I am enabled to respond with a yes, Christ's Yes, yet distinctly my own, for in him I have truly come home to myself. Hidden with Christ in God my identity is enhanced infinitely. While the anthropological circle ends in a flight from self, the circle of salvation expands and sets free the self. Self-love begins in loving another.

IV. Self-Love and Relatonal Ontology in Georges Bernanos

Ratzinger and Bernanos are, so to speak, natural bedfellows. Bernanos had a large impact on the ressourcement movement, influencing the likes of Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Ratzinger (a second generation ressourcement theologian). (43) While Balthasar wrote a massive book on Bernanos--just over six hundred pages--Ratzinger only mentions Bernanos in passing, but one such case concerns selflove. (44) If used as a hermeneutical key, Ratzinger's relational notion of self-love makes sense of the protagonist in Mouchette and The Diary of a Country Priest and in turn sheds light on a number of events within both novels. There are two examples we shall look at in the former novel: (1) Mouchette's awakening to love through Arsene and his rejection of her love, and (2) her final appeal for help before she kills herself. In The Diary of a Country Priest we shall explore the priest's transcendence of self and how this eventually enables self-love.


In Mouchette the young teenage protagonist (Mouchette) has a violent encounter with a local poacher and troublemaker, Arsene. In hopes of using Mouchette as an alibi, the paranoid Arsene manipulatively leads her to his hideouts. He finds in Mouchette a listening ear, and this encourages him to recall and retell the events that led to his hiding in the woods. Arsene shares with Mouchette his concern that in a fit of rage he may have killed a man, but he is unsure of how the event unfolded because he blacked out and had an epileptic fit. After telling Mouchette what he could recall of the fight she looks up at his face and Bernanos writes,
   It seemed to be the first human face she had ever really looked at.
   Her attention was so absorbed and so tender that it seemed to be an
   extension of her own life.... All the pleasure of looking at it came
   not from him, but from the depths of herself, where it had lain
   hidden and germinating, like a seed of wheat beneath the snow.
   Nothing could alter its power and sweetness, and it depended
   neither on time nor on place.... She had, no doubt, occasionally
   thought of love, but in order to overcome an uncontrollable
   physical revulsion she had had to force herself to imagine beings
   as different as possible from those around her, and her imagination
   was soon defeated. But the face before her now ... left her as
   untroubled as a glimpse of her own caught in the
   single-looking-glass in her home. And that indeed was what it
   seemed to be--a mysterious double of her own face, but a thousand
   times dearer because ... on certain days ... she hated and despised
   her face. Arsene's face, however, could never be hateful or
   ridiculous to her. (45)

Arsene's tale of possible manslaughter startles Mouchette out of the relative safety of her self-loathing. (46) As a girl who experienced much cruelty, Mouchette protectively closes herself off to the world. But Arsene's terrible predicament awakens her to the reality that exists outside. For the first time she encounters otherness and love; she affirms Arsene, and this love rebounds revealing her own internal warmth. Even her face, which is a mirror of Arsene's, takes on new beauty in that his face "could never be hateful or ridiculous to her." Her face, which at times she hated and despised, is transformed by his face. As a result of this awakening, she even begins to sing, and her beautiful youthful innocence, which had been buried for so long, bursts forth. J. C. Whitehouse acutely argues, "As an innocent though deprived and brutalized child ... She [Mouchette] can detect in Arsene something which no one else could see in him, and which she could see in no one else. For her, he represents a possibility of salvation, because he is a human being to whom she could have given herself." (47) Unfortunately, Arsene destroys this wonderful discovery of love and self-love. In a fit of lust he rapes her and brutally violates the beautiful love he evoked. The remainder of the novel reveals the turmoil that Mouchette is lost within: how could the man who awakened love in her, the man she loved, violently turn on her? The experience of love that should have led her to the waters of baptism instead ended in a watery grave, her suicide.

As a result of the rape, Mouchette once again closes herself off from the world, but this time it is irreversible--suicide. We see here the close relationship between loneliness and death: "Death," argues Ratzinger, "is absolute loneliness. But the loneliness into which love can no longer advance is--hell." (48) Hell is the rejection of otherness. Repeatedly rejected by those around her, Mouchette is pushed toward her own death, to absolute loneliness--not hell. Just prior to her suicide, as she stands in the void of indecision before her watery grave, an old villager on horseback comes into view "and their eyes met, but his were as indifferent as those of the horse. She would have liked to shout, call out, and run out to meet her grotesque savior; he plodded slowly on his way and suddenly seemed to be disappearing, as if sucked up into nothingness. She watched his mysterious departure for a second; the man of flesh and blood seemed to have no more substance than a ghost." (49) Her last contact with the outside world is empty. The old, coarse, and grotesque man could have been her saviour by simply acknowledging her existence, an act that would have re-awakened self-love. (50) Instead, his gaze is void of humanity. Without concern and unaware of Mouchette's great need the old man trudges on just like his horse. While Mouchette remained open to love, the old man was not: he was "sucked up into nothingness." Bernanos's description of the old man highlights the difference between rejection of otherness and being rejected by others. He seems to confirm what Lewis acutely wrote about the human person in relation to hell:
   The damned go to a place never made for men at all.... What is cast
   (or casts itself) into hell is not a man: it is "remains." To be a
   complete man means to have the passions obedient to the will and
   the will offered to God: to have been a man--to be an ex-man or
   "damned ghost"--would presumably mean to consist of a will utterly
   centered in its self and passions utterly uncontrolled by the will.

While death was Mouchette's desired end we may surmise that the old man's was hell: he had "no more substance than a ghost" (or "damned ghost") he was, in Lewis's words, but an "ex-man." Mouchette's humanity remains while the old man's has long been lost. Even with Mouchette's suicide Bernanos leaves room for hope as evidenced in her final desire for communion with the old man. She did not close the door all the way on love and so hope remains. Perhaps this is why Bernanos describes her suicide in such tender terms, a sort of ersatz baptism.

Bernanos creates a deeply relational image both in Mouchette's encounter with Arsene and in the final events leading up to her suicide. In light of Ratzinger's understanding of self-love it is possible to see that ultimately Mouchette cannot love herself because she, of no fault of her own, was unable to love. She reached out in love, but Arsene did not allow the boomerang of love to return. As a result, Mouchette fell back into her self-loathing, which is nothing other than the cousin of death. Both are the opposite of affirmation and creation. In a tragic manner, Mouchette illustrates Ratzinger's conclusion that self-love is only possible if we transcend the self and love another.


The Ambricourt Priest in The Diary of a Country Priest is the most important of all the characters in Bernanos's various novels. (52) He is Bernanos's archetype of a priest, and even more broadly he is an image of the human person who has actually fulfilled his potential; hence, the Ambricourt priest is also an unrecognized saint. (53) There are five interrelated aspects of the priest and his life that highlight the relational nature of reality and self-love. First, he is deeply caring and empathetic. He prays, "If only God would open my eyes and unseal my ears, so that I might behold the face of my parish and hear its voice." (54) Meanwhile the parish turns away, cat-like, "watching askance with half-shut eyes." (55) He cares more about his parishioners' well-being and suffering than his own. Second, his ability to pray is linked to his own suffering and to his ability to bear the suffering of others. His (co-)suffering pushes him toward dependence on divine otherness. When his debilitating stomach pain ceases he finds that he is unable to pray (iii), and his ability to pray only returns with his encounter with Mlle. Chantal, in which he bears her emotional pain (133). Third, the priest records in his diary, "My inner quiet--blessed by God--has never really isolated me. I can feel all humankind can enter" (260). His inward turn seems to participate in what Ratzinger referred to as the healing circle, and it opens him to the we of existence in the body of Christ. (56) Fourth, as a result of the previous aspects, the priest is able to read the human heart. (57) He recognizes the lovability of each person and is therefore able to see truth even when it is buried beneath a faqade. The more he comes to know himself in Christ the more he comes to know others.

Finally, although painfully aware of his own inadequacies--his sallow and skinny face, the persistent stubble on his chin, his physical clumsiness, and his lowly birth--he comes to love himself, not as an egoist but as a lover. This is evident in the jubilant motorcycle ride he takes with Olivier. Here we see the boomerang movement of love that occurs within the newly found friendship. As if looking in a mirror, the priest sees his own youthfulness in the youthfulness of Olivier--something he had long forgotten about. The priest reflects: "I think this is what they call joy. Anyway, I felt young, really young, with this companion who was as young as I. We were young together" (236). The motorcycle ride itself is an otherworldly revelation of beauty, and it opens the priest to the joy of life, youthfulness, even being itself:

I climbed somewhat clumsily on to a small rather uncomfortable seat, and the next minute the long slope we were facing flashed behind us, whilst the roar of the engine rose continuously higher and higher till it gave out one note only, wonderfully pure. It was like the song of light, it was light itself, and I felt I was watching, with my own eyes, the huge curve of that stupendous ascent. The country side did not come towards us, it opened out on all sides, and just beyond the wild skid of the road, seemed to turn majestically on itself, like a door opening on to another world. (237)

Clearly, this echoes Ratzinger's argument that love opens the lover to being itself. In this case it is love as friendship. The priest writes in his diary, "I knew that God did not wish me to die without knowing something of that risk--just enough, maybe, for my sacrifice to be complete when the time came" (236). The Ambricourt priest's sense of the goodness of life continues to grow. His last diary entry records these words:

The strange mistrust I had of myself of my own being, has flown, I believe forever. That conflict is done. I cannot understand it any more. I am reconciled to myself, to the poor, poor shell of me. How easy it is to hate oneself! True grace is to forget. Yet if pride could die in us, the supreme grace would be to love oneself in all simplicity--as one would love any one of those who themselves have suffered and loved in Christ. (296)

The priest reverses the second dominical commandment--Love yourself as you love your neighbor--highlighting self-love as conceived by Ratzinger. Bernanos subtly underscores this relational notion of self-love in one other way. Just preceding the priest's final diary entry Bernanos notes that the priest prayed the rosary. In this manner Bernanos brings to the surface the Marian dimension. In fact, it is fair to say, the priest becomes like Mary. That is, he recognizes that his life is full of grace because his life echoes Mary's obedience. In essence, he too says, "let it be to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38). Hence, his dying words are, "Grace is everywhere" (298). Ratzinger writes, "The saying with which Bernanos ends his Diary of a Country Priest--"Everything is grace"--a saying in which a life that seemed to be only weakness and futility can see itself as full of riches and fulfillment--truly becomes in Mary, "full of grace" (Lk 1:28), a concrete reality." (58) In the process of dying the priest finally comes to see with eyes of grace so that self-loathing is impossible. It is arguable that it was through the process of loving others that the priest finally came to love himself--the love he showed others (including God) boomeranged back. (59)

V. Conclusion

The Christocentric relational ontology of Ratzinger provides an understanding of love in which self-love is not a contradiction in terms, nor is it opposed to self-denial. (60) "Love your neighbor as yourself" is a tautology. I truly love and affirm my existence by loving my neighbor. By denying myself in the ecstatic outward movement of love I affirm my own existence: self-denial is self-love. (61) With this understanding of love and the profound relationality of the human person Ratzinger and Bernanos provide a rich vision of the human person that is in stark contrast to both modern and postmodern conceptions. As John Webster articulates, "whereas modernity stands under Montaigne's rubric 'I look within,' postmodernism more characteristically says: 'Each of us knows that our self does not amount to much' (Lyotard)." (62) To respond in kind, both Ratzinger and Bernanos would say, "I look out beyond myself and, in so doing, realize that we--and thus I--amount to a lot, for we are hid with Christ in God (Col 3:3)." In Christ the self is expanded beyond comprehension. All who participate in God participate in his all in all and "that is why the purely private existence of the isolated self no longer exists, but 'all that is mine is yours.'" (63) Truly "I become a thousand men and yet remain myself." (64)


(1.) Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book (New York: Saint Martin's Press, 2000).

(2.) Ratzinger uses the illustration to point out the absurdity of assuming that meaning is derived from knowledge. Joseph Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, trans. J. R. Foster (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 73.

(3.) "And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, 'If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.'" (Mk 8:34-35). All biblical quotations are from the Revised Standard Version.

(4.) "If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple" (Lk 14:26).

(5.) Mk 12:31.

(6.) Josef Pieper, Faith, Hope, Love, trans. Richard Winston, Clara Winston, and Mary Frances McCarthy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997), 164. I am indebted to Fr. VincentTwomey for reminding me of the large influence that Pieper had on Ratzinger.

(7.) Ibid., 159.

(8.) Rowan Williams, "'Good For Nothing'? Augustine on Creation," Augustinian Studies 25 (1994): 20.

(9.) "But we can only understand love by sharing in it, by loving," Joseph Ratzinger, God is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life, ed. Stephan Otto Horn and Vinzenz Pfnur, trans. Henry Taylor (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2003), 99.

(10.) Joseph Ratzinger, The Yes of Jesus Christ: Spiritual Exercises in Faith, Hope, and Love, trans. Robert Nowell (NewYork: Crossroad, 1991), 90.

(11.) As Bernard of Clairvaux perceptively noted, "Whoever seeks anything else in love except love will lose both love and the joy of love at the same time." Quoted in Pieper, Faith, Hope, Love, 244.

(12.) Ratzinger, The Yes of Jesus Christ, 90.

(13.) Ibid., 91.

(14.) Joseph Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, trans. John Saward (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000), 28-34.

(15.) Ibid., 32.

(16.) Ratzinger, The Yes of Jesus Christ, 92.

(17.) Freud claimed, "A love that is not selective seems to us to forfeit part of its value by doing the object an injustice." And in relation with the previous quote "All men are not loveable." Pieper gets both quotations from Freud's Gesammelte Werke, 14:461; see Pieper, Faith, Hope, Love, 200, 202.

(18.) Pieper, Faith, Hope, Love, 200.

(19.) Ratzinger, The Yes of Jesus Christ, 93.

(20.) "In any genuine human love there is an element of bowing down before the God-given dignity of the other person, who is in the image of God." Ratzinger, God is Near Us, 83.

(21.) Joseph Ratzinger, "Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology," ed. David L. Schindler and Nicholas J. Healy, trans. W. J. O'Hara, Joseph Ratzinger in Communio, vol. 2, Anthropology and Culture (Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans, 2013), 108.

(22.) Joseph Ratzinger, Truth and Tolerance: Christian and World Religions, trans. Henry Taylor (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 248.

(23.) Ratzinger, "Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology," 109.

(24.) Ibid.

(25.) Documents of the Christian Church, ed. Henry Bettenson and Chris Maunder (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 56.

(26.) Ratzinger, "Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology," 116.

(27.) Ibid., 115.

(28.) "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it" (Mt 10:39).

(29.) Ratzinger, "Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology," 116.

(30.) Ibid., 117.

(31.) Joseph Ratzinger, Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life, ed. Aidan Nichols, trans. Michael Waldstein, 2nd ed. (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1988), 190.

(32.) "Precisely in renouncing individualistic self-determination, I enter into the intimacy of my own being, through communion with Christ. This is how we become ourselves and, finding authentic communion with God, attain true freedom." Joseph Ratzinger, The Renewal of Moral Theology: Perspectives of Vatican II and Veritatis Splendor, ed. David L. Schindler, trans. James M. Quigley, Joseph Ratzinger in Communio, vol. 1, The Unity of the Church (Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans, 2010), 192. "The eucharistic fellowship of the Church is not a collectivity, in which fellowship is achieved by levelling down to the lowest common denominator, but fellowship is created precisely by our each being ourself. It does not rest on the suppression of the self, on collectivization, but arises through our truly setting out, with our whole self, and entering into this new fellowship of the Lord." Ratzinger, God is Near Us, 82.

(33.) Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness (New York: Doubleday, 1999), 31.

(34.) Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, 247.

(35.) Ratzinger, The Yes of Jesus Christ, 99.

(36.) Ibid.

(37.) Pieper, Faith, Hope, Love, 235.

(38.) "Reality is self-transcendence, and when man is led to transcend it, he not only comprehends God but, for the first time, also understands reality and enables himself and creation to be what they were meant to be." Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology, trans. Mary Frances McCarthy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987), 345.

(39.) Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, 171.

(40.) C. S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters, found in Pieper, Faith, Hope, Love, 247.

(41.) Ratzinger, The Yes of Jesus Christ, 104.

(42.) "Man comes in the most profound sense to himself, not through what he does, but through what he accepts. He must wait for the gift of love, and love can only be received as a gift. It cannot be 'made' on one's own, without anyone else." Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, 267.

(43.) Lewis Ayres, Patricia Kelly, and Thomas Humphries, "Benedict XVI: A Ressourcement Theologian?," in Ressourcement: A Movement for Renewal in Twentieth- Century Catholic Theology, ed. Flynn Gabriel and Paul D. Murray (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 423-39.

(44.) Ratzinger, The Yes of Jesus Christ, 98-99.

(45.) Georges Bernanos, Mouchette, trans. J. C. Whitehouse (NewYork: NewYork Review of Books, 2006), 40-42.

(46.) "Once again her fear and her anger turned inwards upon herself; it was herself she hated." Bernanos, Mouchette, 89.

(47.) J. C. Whitehouse, "The Human Person in the Novels of Georges Bernanos," The Modern Language Review 80, no. 3 (July 1985): 579.

(48.) Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, 301.

(49.) Bernanos, Mouchette, 89.

(50.) "By portraying suicide in his fictional works, Bernanos explained it as a principle of self-destruction, which he called 'this mysterious hatred of self that we call original sin.'" Astrid Heyer, "Suicide in the Fiction of Georges Bernanos and Stefan Zweig: The Death of Two Female Adolescents," Christianity and Literature 56, no. 3 (Spring 2007): 449.

(51.) C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (London: Centenary Press, 1941), 113-14.

(52.) In fact, as a novelist obsessed with his own characters, the Ambricourt priest is Bernanos's own hero. W. M. Frohock, "Georges Bernanos and his Priest- Hero," Yale French Studies 12 (1953): 59.

(53.) J. C. Whitehouse, "The Human Person in the Novels of Georges Bernanos," 575, 582. Whitehouse, however, is deeply mistaken in asserting that for Bernanos the saint is one who recognizes that he is an individual and autonomous person. For Bernanos the exact opposite is the case. One would be hard pressed to make sense of the Ambricourt priest from an autonomous individualistic perspective.

(54.) Georges Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest, trans. Pamela Morris (Philadelphia: Da Capo Press, 2002), 28.

(55.) Ibid., 40.

(56.) The priest's openness to the "we" of the Church is also reflected in the fact that Bernanos does not give the priest a name. Gordon Leah points out that the Ambricourt priest is the only priest in all his novels who remains unnamed. Leah furthers the argument: "Malcolm Scott in his monograph on the novel asks the rhetorical question: 'Is it not significant that the cure himself has no name, except that of the parish, Ambricourt, to which he has given his entire essence? Does his namelessness not convey the integrity of his person and his one-ness with his flock?'" Gordon Leah, "'Become as a Little Child': Reflections On Georges Bernanos' Diary Of A Country Priest And Other Works," The Heythrop Journal (2014), doi:10.1111/heyj.12228.

(57.) For example, he illuminates the thoughts and motives of Mme. la Comtesse, her daughter (Chantal), and Seraphita.

(58.) Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, 280.

(59.) "It is at moments of the greatest openness and unselfishness that their [Bernanos' saint heroes] selfhood is most pronounced." J. C. Whitehouse, "The Human Person in the Novels of Georges Bernanos," 583.

(60.) Ratzinger's view of self-love is similar to Aquinas's view. One of the key differences is that Aquinas's argument is grounded teleologically. Stephen Pope concludes, "Self and neighbor are depicted by Thomas as two interrelated foci that are loved together as participating in an affective union with God, the summum bonum." Stephen Pope, "Expressive Individualism and True Self-Love: A Thomistic Perspective," The Journal of Religion 71, no. 3 (July 1991): 399. Accordingly, self-love, as love of God, precedes love of neighbor. Whereas, Ratzinger's relational approach emphasizes the fact that both love of God and love of the other require similar acts of self- transcendence that fulfil the self. Nevertheless, there is a difference between these two loves. Love of God inevitably means love of neighbor and self. Love of neighbor may translate to love of self, although this is not always the case (e.g., in Mouchette Arsene shattered the arc of love), nor does it necessarily lead to love of God. There is a qualitative and quantitative distinction.

(61.) With Ratzinger's relational notion of love and self-love "love your neighbor as yourself" is rescued from the moralism of a command ethic or deontology in which being and duty are separated. The second commandment can be read through Ratzinger as primarily a statement about reality, about being. Pieper expresses this well in his distinction between prudence and moralism: "Moralism says: good is what obligation requires, and because obligation requires it. The doctrine of prudence says: good is what accords with reality; it is obligatory because it responds to reality." Josef Pieper, The Christian Idea of Man, trans. Dan Farrelly, (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine's Press, 2011), 16.

(62.) John Webster, "Eschatology, Anthropology and Postmodernity," International Journal of Systematic Theology 2, no. 1 (March 2000): 24.

(63.) Ratzinger, God is Near Us, 145.

(64.) C. S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 141.
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Author:Kaethler, Andrew T.J.
Publication:Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture
Article Type:Critical essay
Date:Mar 22, 2016
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