“Culture depends for its very existence on leisure, and leisure, in its turn, is not possible unless it has a durable and consequently living link with the cultus, with divine worship.
The word “cult” in English is used exclusively, or almost exclusively in a derivative sense. But here it is used, along with worship, in its primary sense. It means something else than, and something more than, religion. It really means fulfilling the ritual of public sacrifice. That is a notion which contemporary “modern” man associates almost exclusively and unconsciously with uncivilized, primitive peoples and with classical antiquity. For that very reason it is of the first important to see that the cultus, now as in the distant past, is the primary source of man’s freedom, independence and immunity within society. Suppress that last sphere of freedom, and freedom itself, and all our liberties, will in the end vanish into thin air.
Culture, in the sense in which it is used above, is the quintessence of all the natural good of the world and of those gifts and qualities which, while belonging to man, lie beyond the immediate sphere of his needs and wants. All that is good in this sense, all man’s gifts and faculties are not necessarily useful in a practical way; though there is no denying that they belong to a truly human life, not strictly speaking necessary, even though he could not do without them. Continue reading “Leisure, culture and philosophy” →
“Viator means wanderer, walker, wayfarer, pilgrim. The last term has acquired a special meaning and became a familiar part of religious parlance. We speak of the “pilgrimage” of this earthly life. This is a perfectly honorable and legitimate use of the word, to which no serous objections can be raised. However, certain rather melodramatic overtones have become associated with this usage, overtones which may blur the precise meaning of this important term, or even cause us to brush it aside. In reality the concept of status viatoris involves nothing sentimental, nor even anything distinctively religious or theological. What is meant, rather, is that man, as long as he exists in this world, is characterized by an inward, as it were ontological quality of being on-the-way to somewhere else. ￼The life of historical man is structured as becoming, “not-yet,” hope. Granted, we have countless choices on our “life’s journey.” We can make detours and take byways; we can stand still; perhaps also we can, in a certain sense, go backward. Above all we can progress in the true direction. Only one alternative is barred to us, that of not being en route at all, of not being “on the way.” This quality of man’s “being as becoming” has been treated extensively in modern philosophical anthropology, especially in the existential camp–starting with Pascal (“We are not, we hope to be”) and going on to Gabriel Marcel, Ernst Bloch and Jean-Paul Sartre. Marcel’s philosophical and dramatic works present a multitude of variations on the fundamental insight that hope is the stuff of which our soul is made. And Sartre strikes precisely the same note when he says that our life is “made up not only of waitings but of waitings which themselves wait for waiting.” As for Ernst Blosh’s fascinating though rather perplexing philosophy of hope and the future, it certainly makes one point with complete clarity: “The real thing, in man as in the world, is impending, waiting”; man is something “not yet at all present, and for that very reason his has history.”
As we have said, this is precisely the meaning of the traditional phrase status viatoris; it denotes the dynamic state of not-yet-being, of still unfulfilled and incomplete being that is, however, pointed towards fulfillment, completion and final realization. Incidentally, one can come to this perception without overmuch philosophical speculation. It is accessible to everyone on the basis of ordinary empirical knowledge, on the basis of experience with himself. No man has ever said: I have already completed the draft which I myself am; I already posses all that was truly intended for me; I am not still “on the way” towards the real thing; fulfillment does not lie in the future for me. No man would ever be capable of saying that, not if he lived to be a hundred and were already standing on the threshold of death” (Josef Pieper, Death and Immortality, p. 75, 76).
“We have seen that loving concern, although it actually confirms the beloved in his existence, can also have a shaming element. This fact–which seems paradoxical only at first glance–indicates that love is not synonymous with undifferentiated approval of everything the beloved person thinks and does in real life. As a corollary, love is also not synonymous with the wish for the beloved to feel good always and in every situation and for him to be spared experiencing pain or grief in all circumstances. “Mere ‘kindness’ which tolerates anything except [the beloved’s] suffering” has nothing to do with real love. Saint Augustine expressed the same idea in a wide variety of phrases: “Love reprimands, ill will echoes”; “the friend speaks bitterly and loves, the disguised foe flatters and hates.” No lover can look on easily when he sees the one he loves preferring convenience to the good. Those who love young people cannot share the delight they seem to feel in (as it were) lightening their knapsacks and throwing away the basic rations they will eventually need when the going gets rough” (Josef Pieper, Faith, Hope, Love, p 187).
“because the being of the world participates in the divine being which pervades it to its innermost core, the world is not only a good world; it is in a very precise sense holy” (Josef Pieper, “Guide to Thomas Aquinas”, p. 126).
… our own existence in fact testifies to nothing less than our being loved by the Creator. What this can specifically mean for man’s relationship to the cosmos is movingly expressed by a remarkable, little-known writer with somewhat old-fashioned solemnity, “But insomuch as God loves me because I am, I am truly irreplaceable in the world.”
It seems clear tome that only through a conviction such as this can man achieve solid ground underfoot, within his own consciousness, as well. Presumably there exists something like a prime trustfulness by virtue of which one can live a “simple” life (in the biblical sense of “simple”), that is, ultimately without complications… And if such prime trustfulness does exist, then it must consist in nothing less than the certainty of being so surpassingly, effectively and absolutely loved. I recall the words of a great student of human nature and a master of spirituality: that simplicity, and he was referring here to the simplicitas of the New Testament, was at bottom nothing but “trusting to love” (Josef Pieper, “Faith, Hope, Love” p. 178-179).
“Paschasius Radbertus comments with an appositeness we can but admire: “Holy fear guards the summit of hope.” In Holy Scripture (Ps 115:11), the same thought is expressed in language that is at once simple and elegant: ‘They who fear the Lord trust in the Lord'” (Faith, Hope, Love, p. 138).
“Fear of the Lord and the theological virtue of hope are naturally ordered to one another; they complement one another” (Josef Pieper, Faith, Hope, Love, p. 137).
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