Thursday, April 1, 2010


This is Part II of a 2 part series by seminarian Patrick Schultz

In the anthropocentric worldview, to be free is to wield the hammer of creativity and by sheer exercise of the will, sculpt oneself and one’s world as he or she sees fit. There is no notion that our choices should conform to our nature and promote our end, simply because modernity denies that we have a nature to conform to or an end to actualize. Herein lies the difference: to consider all of reality as devoid of intrinsic natures and indwelling ends is to see all being as malleable and moldable according to our whims, including the human person. If man is not endowed with a nature and an end, then all is permissible, and more importantly, everything is right. In a “Hakuna-matata”—no worries—fashion, whatever a person chooses, he is right; no one can object. You cannot go wrong within this framework. Why? Because if the supra-material causality of spirit is illusory, then there are no intrinsic natures in nature; likewise, if there is no transcendent spiritual dimension, then there is no God. If there is no God, then there is no grounding for morality, for good, for evil, for right, for wrong, for anything. If, as Nietzsche contends, “God is dead,” then all concepts of anything absolute dissipate. Without a lawgiver, law is a farce. The voice that speaks categorically in our heads, the voice of conscience that whispers those “ought’s,” is an illusion that can and should be ignored. The anthropocentric worldview is a slow asphyxiation. As Flannery O’Connor once remarked, it is a noxious gas that is breeding the moral sense out of certain segments of humanity, much like the wings have been bred off certain types of chickens. Our culture is being bred to believe in nothing, or better yet, that everything is permissible.

Although I doubt the woman on the plane was aware of what she was implying, her question was brimming over with this destructive worldview. I am here to affirm the opposite, and I will spend the rest of my life spreading the gospel of the theocentric worldview. Seminarians, postulants, novices, and all those earnestly seeking God, are looked on by the culture as misguided idealists who are throwing their lives away. And that is the crux of it. We are throwing our lives away. There is a theo-logic inaccessible to human reason that confounds modern sensibilities: for each one of us, we find ourselves by losing ourselves; we gain everything by losing everything; we become fully alive when we die to self. The Church declares that man, made in the image and likeness of God, “is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself” (Gaudium et Spes 24). To actualize our freedom for excellence is to recognize this sublime truth: it is by giving that we receive. It is through a willed dispossession of self that one fully comes to life.

So, what on earth would make me want to be a priest, especially in this day and age? The answer is simple: I want to respond to Him who loved me first. Just as He gave himself completely to me out of love, so too I wish to give myself completely to him. The only appropriate response to love is love itself. Out of love I was formed, and out of that same love and creativity, I am held in existence from moment to moment. At each and every second of my existence, I stand over the precipice of non-being, and yet God continues to choose me, and wills me to be. In light of such an unfathomable, magnanimous gift, how could I not respond by laying my life down, and giving my all? I do not desire to be used as a means to further God’s ends, as many moderns would interpret; I desire to cooperate willfully in the theo-drama that we are all a part of. I want to be, like all the great saints, one who enrolls in the school of silence, and says everyday: “Here I am, Lord. I long to do your will.”

No comments: