Wednesday 16th January 2019

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

The Paradox Of The Person

November 13, 2018 Featured Today No Comments

By DONALD DeMARCO

The first law of nature is self-preservation. The highest law of morality is self-sacrifice. What the content these two sentences makes abundantly clear is that the life of the human being is one of perpetual tension. Self-preservation and self-sacrifice are not exactly on the same page. However, it is important to note that this tension is not a contradiction, but a paradox. A contradiction would make man an absurdity, continually and incurably at odds with himself, as several atheistic existentialist philosophers have contended. He would be a being without hope.
A paradox appears to be a contradiction but conceals a deeper truth. Indeed, “truth consists of paradoxes,” wrote Carl Sandburg. But he was eager to point out how much they resembled paradoxes since they bind together “two facts that stand on opposite hilltops and across the intervening valley call each other liars.”
Shakespeare could not have framed the term “paradox” more elegantly than when he described man as “the quintessence of dust” (Hamlet Act 2, scene 2).
Quintessence has rich and lofty meaning. It was, for the ancients, the fifth essence (after earth, air, fire, and water) which was the substance of the imperishable stars.
“Earthlings though we are,” wrote the late Ralph McInerny, “unimaginable without feet and arms and ears, all of which will one day turn to dust, we are diamonds whose facets give off light and darkness.”
Or, as Gerard Manley Hopkins expressed it in his own inimitable way: “This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood, immortal diamond, is immortal diamond.”
G.K. Chesterton was a master of the paradox, but was intolerant of the contradiction. He envisioned man as a creature of the twilight, being part earthly and part mystical. “Mysticism keeps men sane,” he averred. “As long as you have mystery, you have health; when you destroy mystery you have morbidity. . . . It is exactly this balance of apparent contradictions that has been the whole buoyancy of the healthy man.”
What is apparent lies on the surface; one must search deeper to locate the truth.
God knew what He was doing when He created man as a natural being who strives for a supernatural end. He did not intend the call to self-sacrifice to be contrary to man’s natural instinct for self-preservation. A powerful instinct for self-preservation, embedded in man’s nature as it is, is needed for him to persist in living so that he has the time and opportunity to achieve his higher purpose. His strong desire not to die, then, is not self-justifying.
It is needed to provide the ground for something other than itself. Man is a being in the world but not of the world. He gains his life by losing it. He is both individualistic and communal. He has his nature; but he also has his ideals. He must preserve his life to attain his end.
God, Himself, is a paradox. He is of one substance, but is triune. Christ is human and divine, temporal and eternal, the Alpha and the Omega. The paradox seems to be a contradiction, but on further inspection, it reveals a truth. Man is not simply an individual who, by nature, seeks only to preserve his life, but a person who integrates nature with spirit and becomes a whole person who lives with an abiding concern for others.
“Individuality,” as Nikolai Berdyaev has remarked, “is a naturalistic and biological category, while personality is a religious and spiritual one. . . . Personality is a task to be achieved.” We are natural at birth, but not virtuous until later.
We may describe sheer individuality as that by which one is excluded from everyone else. It is the narrowness of the ego whose desires are limited to self-gratification. It is natural, but nothing more than natural. Gordon Gecko (played by Michael Douglas), the corporate raider in the film Wall Street, provided us with an exceptionally clear image of selfish disregard for others.
“Greed is good, greed is right, greed works,” he told his stockholders. “Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.” Gecko’s comeuppance in the movie was a convincing refutation of his philosophy and a good example of bad economics.
On the other hand, the distinguished economist, Adam Smith, in The Wealth of Nations and in his earlier work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, makes it clear that for capitalism to succeed, self-sacrifice must offset greed and self-interest. The latter work begins with the follow assertion:
“How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it. Of this kind is pity or compassion, the emotion we feel for the misery of others, when we either see it, or are made to conceive it in a very lively manner.”
Our nature is always with us. But it is a starting point, not an end. It is something to move out from. Self-sacrifice fulfills the meaning of self-preservation. We need to remain alive in order to give to others. The person, in the strict sense of the term, is an integration of body and soul, nature and purpose, individuality and communal obligation. For St. Thomas Aquinas, “The person is that which is most noble and most perfect in all of nature” (Summa Theologiae, I, 29, 3.).
The person is a paradoxical reality. The two great sins are to view him simplistically as merely a natural being and nothing more or as an angel and nothing less. We are dust, indeed. But we are dust with a destiny.
(Dr. Donald DeMarco is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University, and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College. He is a regular columnist for St. Austin Review. His latest book, Apostles of the Culture of Life, is posted on amazon.com. His forthcoming book, How to Navigate through Life, is in production and is soon to be released.)

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Right now the most likely path toward reform in the Church-- intervention of government authority-- could lead to disaster. If only a “morally intrepid few” bishops, here and in Rome, could call for and make public acts of repentance, we might yet avoid that danger.

Cardinal Burke, in two interviews, calls current Vatican response to abuse crisis "more confusing than anything"; calls upon those responsible for the McCarrick scandal to resign. Speaks about a group in USCCB pushing for LGBT agenda. @TheWandererNews

Cdl. Burke: Pope Francis’ response to abuse crisis is ‘more confusing than anything’

Cardinal Burke said that Pope Benedict was 'very clear' on the matter of abuse.

www.lifesitenews.com

Load More...

Cdl. Burke: Pope Francis’ response to abuse crisis is ‘more confusing than anything’

January 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke told German TV in a January 8 interview that Pope Francis’ response to the abuse crisis is “confusing.” Cardinal Burke stated that Pope Benedict was “very clear on this [matter of abuse],”…Continue Reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Trashes Pro-Life People: You’re “Not in Line With Society”

Justin Trudeau, Canada’s radically pro-abortion prime minister, blasted pro-life advocates Wednesday amid a nation-wide outrage about barring pro-life groups from a federal grant program. “An organization that has the explicit purpose of restricting women’s rights by removing rights to abortion,…Continue Reading

Cardinal’s trial puts French Church in glare of Catholic abuse scandal

The Roman Catholic archbishop of Lyon goes on trial on Monday charged with failing to act on historical allegations of sexual abuse of boy scouts by a priest in his diocese. Cardinal Philippe Barbarin is the highest-profile cleric to be…Continue Reading

Trudeau to issue new coin commemorating decriminalizaton of gay sex

OTTAWA, January 4, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau has granted the Royal Mint permission to release a new one-dollar coin designed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his father’s decriminalization of homosexuality. Trudeau’s government approved the coin…Continue Reading

CARDINAL CUPICH KEYNOTE SPEAKER FOR DISSIDENT PRIESTS’ CONFERENCE

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (ChurchMilitant.com) – Cardinal Blase Cupich is slated to be the keynote speaker at the annual conference for a notorious dissident priests’ organization. The annual assembly of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) will take place in June 2019, and…Continue Reading

Vatican spokesman, deputy, resign over strategy differences

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican spokesman and his deputy resigned on Monday over disagreements on strategy, ending a year of upheaval in the Holy See’s communications structure. A brief Vatican statement gave no reason for the resignations. Spokesman Greg…Continue Reading

Chinese city bans public displays of Christmas, cites ‘clean city’ as reason

LANGFANG, China, December 19, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A city in China has issued a sweeping ban on Christmas-related decorations, public celebrations, and advertisements, claiming it’s necessary to keep the city clean for an upcoming awards contest. Christmas is not an…Continue Reading

Priest: Pro-LGBT rainbow rosary promoted by Fr. Martin ‘comes from the pit of hell’

December 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – During a radio interview about the pro-homosexual “social justice” rosary that Fr. James Martin has been promoting, Fr. Donald Calloway prayed for Martin’s “radical conversion” and that the Jesuit might “repent of the things he has…Continue Reading

President Trump’s Decision to Defund Planned Parenthood of $50-60 Million Likely to Win in Court

President Donald Trump appears likely to win a court battle against the abortion giant Planned Parenthood. At issue are new guidelines for Title X grants, which fund family planning programs across the country. In February, the U.S. Department of Health and…Continue Reading

Pro-LGBT priest promotes ‘rainbow’ rosary with prayers for ‘full acceptance’ of gay couples

December 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-LGBT Jesuit priest Fr. James Martin is promoting on social media a rosary with “rainbow” beads for one of the decades which are to be used, the rosary’s creators say, to pray for the “full…Continue Reading

Archbishop Viganò denies claims he defrauded his brother

ROME, December 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò today has denied claims he defrauded his brother, and has sought to clarify an October court ruling ordering him to pay his brother €1.8 million in inheritance. Many believe the ruling is being…Continue Reading

Vatican’s former doctrine chief: ‘LGBT’ has ‘no place’ in Church documents

VATICAN CITY, November 21, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An influential cardinal says that pro-homosexual terminology such as “LGBT” has no place in the documents of the Roman Catholic Church. In a recent interview with LifeSiteNews, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, formerly the Prefect of the…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Catechism

Today . . .

Archbishop Viganò urges McCarrick to publicly repent in new open letter

ROME, January 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — With a tone of fraternal and priestly charity, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has written an open letter to former-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, encouraging him to publicly repent of his sins and thus to save his soul. In the brief letter, dated January 13, 2019 and published in English and Italian (see full text below), Archbishop Viganò has also sought to persuade McCarrick that he has a unique opportunity to greatly benefit the Churc

U.S. Catholics losing trust in clergy, survey finds

Washington D.C., Jan 11, 2019 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- Trust in the clergy has declined sharply over the last year, a new Gallup poll shows. Only 31 percent of American Catholics now rate the honesty or ethical standards of the clergy as “high” or “very high.” The figures, released Friday, show a drop of 18 points since 2017. Among American Protestants, the same question produced a relatively stable number of 48 percent, a drop of…Continue Reading

Vatican News pays tribute to Cuba’s brutal communist revolution, then deletes post

ROME, January 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – An article at Vatican News, in recognition of the 60th anniversary of the Cuban revolution, disappeared from the Holy See’s website just one day after it appeared on January 1. No explanation was offered for the self-censorship of the article, which marked the rise to power of Fidel Castro and his anti-clerical Marxist government, which has long been marked by grievous human rights violations. The Vatican News article, in…Continue Reading

Wuerl knew McCarrick abuse allegations in 2004

Washington D.C., Jan 10, 2019 / 05:13 pm (CNA).- An allegation of misconduct against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick was reported to Cardinal Donald Wuerl in 2004, despite Wuerl’s insistence he knew nothing about McCarrick’s alleged sexual misconduct until 2018. Wuerl forwarded the report to the apostolic nuncio in Washington, DC, the Diocese of Pittsburgh said Thursday. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Washington confirmed to CNA that an allegation against McCarrick was presented to Wuerl while…Continue Reading

Analysis: The non-trial of Theodore McCarrick

Vatican City, Jan 7, 2019 / 12:30 pm (CNA).- While recent media reports suggest that a trial of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick is underway, Vatican sources have told CNA that his case is not being handled by a full judicial process. Sources at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have confirmed that allegations against McCarrick are being considered through an abbreviated approach called an “administrative penal process.” That decision gives insight into the strengt

Advertisement(2)

The Case Against The Sign Of Peace At Mass

By REY FLORES O Lord Jesus Christ, Who said to Your Apostles: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you,” regarda not my sins but the faith of your Church, and deign to give her peace and unity according to Your will: Who live and reign God, world without end. Amen. — At…Continue Reading

Candor Is Not The Enemy Of Love

By DONALD DeMARCO Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, in his book Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World, makes two most important points when he reminds all those who love life that “candor is not the enemy of love” and that “real hope begins in honesty.” Candor may disturb one’s…Continue Reading

No, This Is Not JFK’s Democratic Party

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House has more women, persons of color, and LGBT members than any House in history — and fewer white males. And Thursday, January 3, the day Rashida Tlaib was sworn in, her hand on a Koran, our first Palestinian-American congresswoman showed us what we may expect. As a…Continue Reading

Are The Knights Of Columbus A Hate Group Now?

By SHAUN KENNEY Democratic Senators Kamala Harris and Maize Hirono have chosen to make membership within the Knights of Columbus a variant of a hate crime. Judicial nominee Brian Buescher’s pro-life bona fides notwithstanding, his cardinal sin against the bureaucracy isn’t his judicial temperament, but rather the fact that he is a practicing Catholic. The…Continue Reading

The Quest Of The Magi And Our Own In 2019

By JAMES MONTI How truly fitting it is that the celebration of the Epiphany, the visit of the Magi, should come at the beginning of January. For just as the Magi set out on a quest “into the unknown” to find and pay homage to a Newborn King they as yet knew not, scarcely imagining…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

His Bride Is The Church

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Second Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Isaiah 62:1-5 1 Cor. 12:4-11 John 2:1-11 In the readings for the past three weeks, the Church has given us the three traditional events which manifested our Lord’s divinity. The word Epiphany means manifestation. These manifestations took place thirty years apart, but were celebrated together because they point…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… The Wall And Abortion: No Moral Equivalency

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The March for Life event each January draws thousands of pro-life Americans to Washington, D.C., to witness for the weakest and most defenseless among us, preborn boys and girls who cannot speak on behalf of the sacredness of their lives in the face of legalized abortion which, in some cases, threatens their existence at every…Continue Reading

The Authority Of Bishops . . . The Hierarchy Of Orders In The Catholic Church

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 8 It is a well-known fact that the Church today is going through a crisis, especially in faith, as can be seen as early as 1985 when Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger allowed the publication of The Ratzinger Report. I believe that Benedict XVI was the only Pope in Church history whose mind was already well-known…Continue Reading

The Crisis Of Hope In The Modern World

By DON FIER Two opposing vices were identified last week as contrary to the theological virtue of hope: despair and presumption. Despair, on the one hand, goes against Divine Mercy; presumption, on the other hand, goes against Divine Justice. To explain, the renowned Thomist philosopher Dr. Josef Pieper describes hope as “preeminently the virtue of the status viatoris [condition or…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: In a recent reply about the appropriateness of giving blessings to those coming to Holy Communion, we said that the practice was an unauthorized innovation that should be discouraged. We have since learned that Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., has instructed his priests and deacons not to give such blessings. Here is his rationale: “I do not…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anthony Of Egypt, Abbot

By CAROLE BRESLIN While we can understand that God is infinite, it is difficult to comprehend the stretch of such infinity. Certainly our finite minds cannot begin to comprehend it. Hence, since our minds are finite, the more we have cluttering our minds with worldly affairs such as possessions, relationships, and activities, the less time and room we have in…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Servant Of God Walter Ciszek

By CAROLE BRESLIN Part 2 After living 23 years in Russia in prison camps and various towns in northern Russia, Fr. Walter Ciszek was suddenly given orders to be prepared to go to Moscow. He was never told why he was being transferred to the capital of Russia. When he first arrived, he wondered what was happening. For once, he…Continue Reading