In general I am opposed to CliffsNotes versions of things that we are “supposed” to read. But it is also understandable that after a day at work, home chores and responsibilities, and with the one hour you have to relax, you probably are not going to cozy up with a Church encyclical for some satiating reading. So for the next few weeks on Friday Potpourri we will have the AANotes on Lumen Fidei, our Popes encyclical addressed to all the faithful, so that you will at least have a decent idea on what our pontiff wishes to know though the fullness of what is being said can only be grasped by reading it.
Here is the main gist of the entire preface:
The faith is a light for all of humanity to help us understand who we are, how we are supposed to live, to give us worth, dignity, direction, and hope for the future. G. K. Chesterton talks about the pagan world (so does Francis here though he doesn’t mention my buddy G. K.) and how it gave way to the Christian world. It lacked that ultimate light for which it strove. Nobody “has ever died for his faith in the sun” wrote St. Justin Martyr. Still, true paganism (unlike today’s knock off brand of it) had a very strict moral code, grave ideas of honor and respect and sacrifice, but it could not carry the weight, need, and the divine spark of the human person. That is why it passed when Christianity came on the scene. That is why to return to paganism is not a cure especially when used by those who employ it with the grave misunderstanding that it provides a framework for engaging in any human endeavor the particular individual wants license to engage in. That was NOT the paganism of old.
We know that Western culture is enamored with itself. Like so many past generations it is self impressed with its technological advances, it growing collection of facts, and its television reruns, and so has figured it has now arrived, can work out life on its own, and can relinquish faith. In fact, as it has so many times in the past, it now sees faith as darkness, a step backward, full of emotionalism and superstition.
But the experiment has once again failed. Lost as society is, it has even lost its nerve to say anything is true. The idea of the dignity and worth of man is in free fall and the ability to say for sure what is good and what is evil is escaping us.
Because of this there is a great need for the light of faith to help inform us who we are, and, in knowing who we are, how we are to live in order to be most fully and healthily human and what is our ultimate end and how can we get there. We are aware that faith can be a fragile thing and that we once again must nourish and promote it like a grape vine lest it be overcome by weeds and fail to produce fruit.
That’s the set up largely in my own words. We just went through two and half pages of small, single spaced document. We’ll start the first chapter next week.