Comments:Athenagoras & Benedict

Some interesting words from Benedict and Athenagoras:

"…At one point in the book, Vanier shares a poem that he translated. The poem is by the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras. Here is the excerpt:

I have waged this war against myself for many years.
It was terrible.
But now I am disarmed.
I am no longer frightened of anything
because love banishes fear.
I am disarmed of the need to be right
and to justify myself by disqualifying others.
I am no longer on the defensive,
holding onto my riches,
I just want to welcome and to share.
I don’t hold on to my ideas and projects.
If someone shows me something better–
no, I shouldn’t say better but good–
I accept them without any regrets.
I no longer seek to compare.
What is good, true and real is always for me the best.
That is why I have no fear.
When we are disarmed and dispossessed of self,
if we open our hearts to the God-Man
who makes all things new,
then He takes away past hurts
and reveals a new world
where everything is possible.
Quoted in Vanier, p. 301.

"…Ratzinger proceeds to tie this recognition, in the experience of suffering, that life is not at our disposal to our need to be loved:

Love is the soul’s true nourishment, yet this food which of all substances we most need is not something we can produce for ourselves. One must wait for it. The only way to make absolutely certain that one will not receive it is to insist on procuring it by oneself. One can attempt to shake it off, and reduce it to the satisfaction of those needs that require no adventure of the spirit or the heart for their filling. Conversely, we can accept this situation of dependence, and keep ourselves trustingly open to the future, in the confidence that the Power which has so determined us will not deceive us.

Ratzinger, p. 96 (original emphasis).

So when we realize that life is not at our disposal or under our full and complete control, we face a choice: respond in “either the pattern of love, or the pattern of power” (Ibid.). Here, Ratzinger gets to the core of the question:

This claim of death upon us which we come across time and again in media vita [in the middle of life]–are we able to receive it in the attitude of trust which will usher in that fundamental posture of love? Or would this just be to throw up life’s glittering prizes in exchange for “Waiting for Godot” [a famous play by Samuel Beckett]: a something that either does not exist at all or, at any rate, does not exist in the form in which we imagine it?

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