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Catholic Though and Creation/Worship

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1) How is the human person’s knowledge of things related to the worship of God? Answer in light of both Pieper and Balthasar.

At the core of both Pieper and Balthasar’s reasoning lies the notion that there is an inherent quality within all that is considered being. This inherent quality is referred to as truth. As Pieper states, “things are true because of their essential reality of being. Regardless of whether one is religious, or believes in God, or has any proclivity towards matters of belief, a person can intellectually deduce and know the following axiom alluded to above: “a thing cannot have being without equally having truth.” Because the aforementioned axiom is knowable by the human mind, Pieper states, “every being, as being, stands in relation to a knowing mind.” Thus, humans are able to know beings, to know things, of both an animate as well as inanimate nature. This point is critical, as it implies there is a connection between the human mind and things through an intelligible process.
On the surface, the concept of truth affirms that there is something special present in the existence of a given thing. However, upon further review, this truth is in fact indicative of God, the One who has created and creates all things. The privilege of being the creator of some object is that the creator will know that object far better than an object not created by them. As an example, an auto mechanic will know the car he built far better than the car he did not build. In a similar vein, Pieper states, (an) “existing work of art is ‘known’ by the artist…Yet he knows it more intensely than he could ever know and understand, say, a tree or any other reality not created by him.” Thus, as the ultimate Creator, or ultimate artist, God knows all beings, and knows the truth found within all objects, as He created everything. Considering God created everything from nothing, it follows that God realized the truth found in everything as well, and thus God was the first to know anything about any given object. Because God was the first to know objects, He established the notion that truth precedes any human thought. This implies the human mind is not creating truth, rather, it is only conforming to the truth realized by God.
The notion that God is the first to know does not detract from the point that humans are able to know things as well. As mentioned earlier, the human mind is the connection point to objects. Pieper unifies the idea of both God and man possessing a mind that allows both to know objects by stating God has a divine mind to which the human mind is related. This prompts the following point: things are true because God sees them, and in knowing His creation, humans function as co-creators playing a secondary role in the establishment of the truth. Thus, in knowing a thing, God’s mind and the human mind meet. It is in this meeting that the act of worship is found. Gaining the knowledge of things, the truth flowing from God’s mind, is worship because the human is essentially getting to know God, albeit from a limited perspective, as God is so far above any other object. Every act of knowledge is a communication as well as a communion with God, making it an act of worship.
The thoughts of Balthasar are similar to those of Pieper, as Balthasar also refers to the relationship between the human mind and things. In order to describe this relationship, Balthasar highlights the link between the subject and the object, in which the subject is the human mind and the object is the thing, in which, as was mentioned previously, God’s mind is present. Balthasar states, “The actualization of truth is no mere natural process but a spiritual event, which takes place only in the lighting-like encounter and fusion of two words-the word of the subject and the word of the object.” Balthasar continues on to sate, “Outside of this event, there is no truth,” stressing the connection between the human mind and the thing. Furthermore, Balthasar also expands on Pieper’s thought regarding an intelligible agreement on the truth of things by stating objects have freedom as well, and that this freedom is understandable even outside the bounds of faith. Balthasar says, “things possess a self-being, and this self-being grounds a unique, incommutable value-the value of being-for-themselves.” Thus, freedom extends from the self-being of an object. This freedom gives objects a public dimension as well as a private, inner dimension, a dimension the object can reveal. As humans are able to know things, it is possible to gain an understanding of the interior dimension of an object if the human mind seeks it. However, as Balthasar says, “The power of intellectual knowledge to receive the revelation of things is unlimited. Not so, however, the power to wrest this revelation from them.” This statement highlights the idea that a relationship between the subject and the object must be established before any realization of the other occurs. Just as in a relationship between two people, one does not reveal his or her secrets before first getting to know the person they are engaging with. In this manner, a person must spend time in the forest in order to know trees. Knowing things is to know the truth of things, and the truth within things is veiled until the relationship between the subject and the object is established. Balthasar reaffirms what Pieper mentions: in the establishment of this relationship, the worship of God takes place, as the knowledge of God is manifested through His objects. Knowing God’s objects is knowing God to a degree, and is therefore worshipping God.

3. How is Balthasar’s presentation of things as bearers of mystery explained by Thomas’ understanding of creation as God’s gift (communication) of being (esse)?

At the core of Thomas’ thought as it relates to this topic lies the notion that creation is a gift from God that communicates being. There are a few key characteristics involved with the giving of a gift, including the apparent difference between the giver and the recipient, as well as the presence of the giver in the gift. If God is the giver of the gift, and if all that is considered being is the recipient, then these characteristics held by Thomas imply the following. First, that God operates on a completely different plane from His creation, and is far different in nature from His creation, and he is the most complex of all things, thus the highest levels of knowledge pertain to Him. Aquinas illustrates this depth of God’s nature when he states, Furthermore, “that whatever is greatest in being and greatest in truth, is the cause of every being and of every truth; just as whatever is greatest in heat is the cause of all heat” (Thomas, ST, Q.44, A.1). Balthasar also explains the phenomenon of the gap between God and other beings when he writes, “Our consideration of the object revealed that being was a hierarchical scale of increasingly intense degrees of interiority, which to an ever greater extent eluded the simple grasp of cognition,” of which the highest being is God. Both of the above statements indicate how the nature of God is far above that which we are easily able to know, so much so that God’s nature is in fact a mystery. To borrow from Balthasar, Pieper, and Aquinas, the “truth” of God is truly a mystery, one that beings have the potential to know, but not without a serious pursuit of the knowledge of God.
The second characteristic involved with the giving of a gift is that there is a presence of the giver in the gift. The implication of this characteristic is as follows: a component of God is found in all beings, as being itself is God’s gift. Thomas writes, “It must be said that every being in any way existing is from God. For whatever is found in anything by participation, must be caused in it by that to which it belongs essentially, as iron becomes ignited by fire” (Thomas, ST, Q.44, A.1). By this logic, Balthasar states the mystery of God, the mystery of the Creator, must be present in all that He created, thus His mystery must be present in all things.
Balthasar offers evidence for the logic introduced above when he says the most fundamental fact about existence is that “this existence was a mysterious wonder, whose sheer ‘thereness’[sic] did not imply poverty but an abundant fullness of being.” The gift of being is what illuminates human existence, therefore, mystery functions as an inherent property of the truth of being. Yet in order to examine the mystery linked to truth, Balthasar states love is needed in order to foster the relationship between subject and object. Balthasar says, “It is no more possible to conceive of a truth without love than it is to have a cognition without will.” Because of this, one must love an object if they wish to unveil the truth found within. As an example, when a person loves truly loves another person, the person being loved is inclined to reveal aspects of themselves to the lover they otherwise would not. When one truly loves another, the lover overlooks the faults of the beloved in order to allow the loved to realize their potential, and reach the ideal state of being the lover pictures when they look at whomever they love. Balthasar describes the lover has having a “mysterious, creative gaze,” implying that God is a lover, a lover from which mystery flows into creation. In this manner, as was mentioned previously, all things are bearers of mystery.

--------------------------------------------
[ 1 ]. Pieper, Living the Truth, 29
[ 2 ]. Pieper, Living the Truth, 30
[ 3 ]. Pieper, Living the Truth, 35
[ 4 ]. Pieper, Living the Truth, 41
[ 5 ]. Pieper, Living the Truth, 52
[ 6 ]. Pieper, Living the Truth, 52
[ 7 ]. Balthasar, Theo-Logic I, 79
[ 8 ]. Balthasar, Theo-Logic I, 79
[ 9 ]. Balthasar, Theo-Logic I, 81
[ 10 ]. Balthasar, Theo-Logic I, 83
[ 11 ]. Balthasar, Theo-Logic II, 131
[ 12 ]. Balthasar, Theo-Logic II, 131
[ 13 ]. Balthasar, Theo-Logic II, 131
[ 14 ]. Balthasar, Theo-Logic II, 111
[ 15 ]. Balthasar, Theo-Logic II, 118
[ 16 ]. Balthasar, Theo-Logic ii, 115…...

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