Interview with Avvenire (Italy)

 
The crisis of fatherhood, in its many forms, is at the root of most disorders in this late stage of Western civilization. And the root is intimately connected to the loss of our consciousness of the hierarchical nature of the created order. Large numbers of people not only seem unable to believe in God, but also cannot conceptualize Him in their thoughts and their hearts. The icon in the heart—the icon of fatherhood—is either damaged or absent entirely. Sin and error have contributed to this, and also two major world wars and the loss of millions of good men on all sides, as well as the social and sexual revolutions of the 1960’s onwards, and the rise of powerful modern media as the principle shaper of both consciousness and conscience—as Pope Benedict has called it, the “dictatorship of moral relativism.” Man has placed himself in the role of master and creator of his world, in his personal life and his societies, without reference to the actual moral order of the real universe. There is a radical disconnect not only in his thinking but in his perceptions of reality itself. This creates an interior void which becomes evident in his psychology, his emotional life, his intellect, his spirituality, his cultural expressions. The consequences are more than “mere” abstractions, because all of these dimensions of the human person express themselves in acts.

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Fatherhood and the Prodigal Son

All of us are to some degree afflicted with a tragically stunted image of who we are. This has never been so destructive in its intensity as it is in our times, when we are continually bombarded with false images of the meaning of human life, the meaning of the human person, and the ultimate destiny of man. We are saturated in anti-words, false words. In Jesus we have been given the Word made flesh, who shows us who we truly are and what we are to become. He does this not only through his teachings, but also by the witness of his life. God himself lays bare his heart in the total vulnerability of being fully human, to the point of permitting himself to be crucified. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, as the prophet Isaiah says. He knew joy, but he accepted the suffering of our state in life. He accepted it because he knew that in the passage through the eye of the needle, through the narrow gate, a great secret is to be found, that on the other side is a vast and beautiful kingdom—an infinite kingdom in which the beauty of God the Father is ever creating more and more beauty, more and more love.

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