Thursday, July 21, 2005
"Memory and Identity" by Pope John Paul ll

I'm currently reading this book and will be posting thoughts by Our Holy Father along with my opinions for the next few days. Here is my summary/opinion of part one:

Before anything else, I must state an important conclusion I realized through this book. When we speak of good, we must understand God equals the supreme good; all things God has done and creates is good and perfect serving a definite purpose, and if we are to rate any action in relation to good or lack there of good (evil), we must have a definite value of the perfect good, which is God. I can therefore conclude that sin, an offense against God, is evil because it is against God’s perfect will. I also can conclude that this action of sin is evil, defined as a complete lack of good (the Supreme good being God), so evil must also be the lack of God. Therefore any sin, no matter how small, infinitely offends Our Good God.

Though, evil and good are opposite, all things were both created perfect until they where stained with original sin due to the sin of Adam. Both those that are good and those that are evil, though, still serve a purpose and live together as in the parable of wheat and weeds; “God is mercy” as St. Faustina said, so there never exists a loss of hope to be forgiven for our sins, which Christ bore on the Cross.

Other fundamental concepts I studied included St. Augustine’s view of original sin: “self-love to the point of contempt for God”, which is fought through “love for God to the point of contempt of sin” (6, 7). The Holy Spirit is a powerful armor against hell, which shows us evil and how to fight it; through the outpouring of grace, we are able to live in life through the Holy Spirit’s involvement. As is written on page 7, if we turn away the Spirit of God, we can not be forgiven for this offense because it is showing that we don’t want pardon of our offenses (Matthew 12:31). The Father of lies, satan, was also created good but became evil through pride, and in the Garden of Eden, he set us forth to suffer like him and be cast away. Yet, he failed in his attempt as God has redeemed us; satan views himself to be equal to God, which is the definition of pride. Only through denial of self can we seek God that is why I believe pride to be the greatest of all sins because it prevents our redemption.

On page 8, Pope John Paul ll brings up the philosophical thought of Descrates, which is “I think, therefore I am”. This shows resemblance to how some view science, where it must prove God. But, science is merely the study of God’s creation not the study of God. As the next several pages show, if man uses this thought, he then views himself to be a deity (Genesis 3:5), but then who can decide what is right and wrong? In truth, only God’s opinion is absolute, so if people view themselves equal to God or if they view God as less than the perfect, supreme Creator then we have the rising of evil empires and ideas which include also include abortion.

To finish part one, on page 15, Pope John Paul ll talked about the evil being necessary for mankind. As I thought about this I concluded, without the cross there would be no hope of eternal salvation. Everything God creates is good; “I created both good and destruction. I am the Lord”. If God can take the greatest evil in human history – the condemnation of God to death and turn it into the greatest joy, then that is a miracle beyond words. The Cross continues to live on today as it is through the Cross that eternal life is reached, and we must all live the life Christ calls us to by loving everyone even our enemies so that we fight evil through good (Romans 12:21).

Furthermore, Pope John Paul ll stated that Redemption is the divine limit imposed on evil because it is through evil that the Cross shines. We are only saved through grace, the grace on the Cross, so through evil there is always a Cross. This brings to mind the fact Redemption is a task that must be worked on as we must pick up our daily crosses. All saints have had to bear his or her cross through life, but evil is powerless over the Resurrection.

Pope John Paul ll continued by saying there are 3 stages to follow Christ:

1. Observance of the Commandments
2. Development of virtues
3. Experience a love for God with growing intensity.

These are called the purgative way, the illuminative way, and the unitive way.

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