Friday, August 01, 2008

To Be Religious Is Natural And Leads To True Freedom

“At first sight, the fact that the word ‘academy’ was originally the name of a suburban temple precinct, which thus predates Plato’s erection of his school there, may seem rather accidental to the history of the new institution. Closer examination reveals a deeper connection, which was not lost on the founder. For Plato’s Academy was, from the legal point of view, a cultic association. Accordingly, the cultic veneration of the Muses was a stable component of its rhythm of life; there was a special office for preparing sacrifices. This is much more than an adventitious circumstance, a concession, say, to the sociological structures of the times. The freedom for the truth and the freedom of the truth cannot exist without the acknowledgment and worship of the divine. Freedom from the obligation to yield a profit can be justified and can survive only if there is something truly withdrawn from man’s utility and property, hence, if the higher property right and the inviolable prerogative of the divinity perdure. ‘The freedom of theoria’, says Pieper in the spirit of Plato, ‘is defenseless and exposed—unless it appeals in a special way to the protection of the gods.’ Freedom from profit and emancipation from the aims of power find their deepest guarantee only in the absolute rights of the One who is not subordinate to any human power: in the freedom vis-à-vis the world which God both has and gives. For Plato, who was the first to express it philosophically, the freedom of the truth belongs not merely accidentally but essentially in the context of worship, of cult. Where the latter no longer exists, the former ceases as well. It goes without saying that worship is also nonexistent where cultic forms are indeed perpetuated but are reinterpreted as symbolic actions possessing a merely social significance. All of this means, however, that anarchic pseudofreedom is at work behind every denial of the foundations of adoration, behind every refusal of the bond to the truth and of the demands which it makes. These counterfeit freedoms, which predominate today, are the real menace to true freedom. To clarify the concept of freedom numbers among the crucial tasks of the present day—if we care about the preservation of man and of the world.”

-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in The Nature and Mission of Theology

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