Pilgrims or wandering
This turn of the century and millennium presents us with the question of time. Also to the question of course. His gaze turned to the path and at the same time raised the question of the mode and direction of stretching ahead. The day is held in the past and anticipate the future. The image of the future is able to mobilize the energies of this. But for many it has narrowed the horizon, the vision of the future, and emerged distress.
Why invite you to reflect on hope? Is there no other, more current, more immediate, more relevant to the educational work that we have to face? Are not we at a crucial time for our city, our country and our Church, a time of definitions and projects in the kairos of the new century, which requires start thinking urgentísimas single issues? Or even avoiding the temptation of immediacy, should not we focus our attention on the key issues that make a substantive definition, rather than formal, the man who we want to be through our educational task? Many thinkers believe while living as a real moment of epochal change. In some sense, the climate is also behind the Christian celebration of the Jubilee. Do not be such now-inquiry-a spiritualist flight, empty talk, a religious version of the dynamics of the ostrich?
These warnings are partly right. More often than we wanted, we Christians have transformed the theological virtues a pretext to stay comfortably in a poor caricature of transcendence, desentendiéndonos of the hard work of building the world where we live and where our salvation is played. It is that faith, hope and charity are, by definition, fundamental attitudes operating a jump, an ecstasy of man to God. We transcend, indeed. We do transcend and transcend. And in reference to God, have a purity, a radiance that can truly dazzle. That glare from those contemplated, can make us forget that these same virtues are based on a foundation of all human realities, because the subject is human and finds its way to the divine. Dazzled, we can be distracted without plan or direction to beat his head, having to recognize our reality of land that goes, as the poet said.
And there at the back to set out without taking the feet off the ground to keep the path to heaven, where hope is revealing its true sense. Because while its object is God, it is in relation to the path of man towards him and, therefore, this virtue walks with us all the way from the cradle to the grave, and the glory, from the pit of meaninglessness and of sin, through the joyful meeting in prayer that everything shines, to embrace the ultimate in tenderness that we cover.
We then reflect on hope. But not on a hope “light”, devitalized, separate the drama of human existence. Interrogate to hope from the deepest problems that afflict us and constitute our daily struggle in our educational work in our living and in our own interiority. We will ask you to help us recognize lucidly challenges we face in addressing the responsibility for the education of the younger generation, to live more intensely every dimension of our existence. We ask that brings meaning and substance to our commitments and undertakings, even those who took more difficult, almost like a cross.
Because, on the other hand, what else that hope is the very substance of the commitment of all teachers? What would devote one’s energies to something whose results are not seen immediately, if all these efforts were not threaded by the invisible thread of hope but solidísimo? Provide some knowledge, propose values, awaken possibilities and share their faith, are tasks that can only be one reason: the confidence that those seeds will grow and produce fruit in due time and way. To educate is to bet and make the present and the future. And the future is ruled by hope.
A reflection on hope with such claims leads undoubtedly difficult to transit routes. Involves crossroads where necessary dip into the accumulated wisdom representing the humanities and theology. And you can purchase a hardness nothing comforting to force us to confront the limits of the concrete reality of the world and our own. So, what is offered here is, above all, an invitation to look at the reality of a Christian way, ie in a way hopefully. If educational communities awakens a desire to check the style of our progress or of deepening our way of seeing the landscape we travel, will have accomplished part of their goal.
The crisis as a challenge to hope
No doubt that, for some time, we are living in a time of profound change. It is often said, a time of crisis. This is almost commonplace. Educational crisis, economic crisis, environmental crisis, moral crisis. At times, the latest news stand or exhibit some initiative successful novel diagnosis of the situation, but soon turns attention to that sort of general malaise that takes on different faces or pretexts. Some point to a more philosophical level and talk about the “crisis of man” or the “crisis of civilization.”
What is the crisis? Let us try to describe, step by step. First, it is a global crisis, complexive. We are not talking about issues that concern areas identified and partial reality. If so, suffice simplistic prescriptions regularly circulating among us: “Here the problem is education,” “all the blame lies with the impunity of crime”, “you have just corruption, it fixes everything.” Clearly, education, public safety and ethics are urgent and legitimate demands of society. But not just that. If education does not end to articulate with the social and economic reality of the country, if corruption seems a cancer that invades everything, it is because the root of the crisis is broader, deeper. The economy is no stranger to politics, nor is social ethics. The school is part of a larger whole, and drugs and violence have to do with complex economic, social and cultural. All aspects of reality, and the relationship between them are what make the crisis.
To say that the crisis is global, then, is to look towards the great cultural lifetimes, the deepest beliefs, the criteria by which people think that something is good or bad, desirable or disposable. What is in crisis is a whole way of understanding reality and understand ourselves.
Second, the crisis is historical. Not the “crisis of man” as an abstract or universal is a particular inflection of the future of Western civilization, which drags the whole planet. It is true that at all times there are things that work well, make changes, decisions to make. But here we are talking about something else. Never before at this time, in the last four years have been so radically shaken fundamental certainties that make the lives of human beings. With great destructive power is negative trends. Consider only the deterioration of the environment, social imbalances in the terrible weapons capability. Nor have they ever been as powerful means of information, communication and transport, so this has to negative (at times compulsive cultural standardization, the hand of the expansion of consumerism), but mostly positive: the possibility of having powerful means for discussion, encounter and dialogue, along with the search for solutions.
What changes, then, is not only the economy, communications or power relations between global power factors, but the way that humanity carries on its existence in the world. And this affects both politics and everyday life, to eating habits and religion, collective expectations as a family and sex, the relationship between different generations and to the experience of space and time.
To help visualize the true dimensions of the challenge to which we are, we will do a quick review of some issues that are usually presented as marking the passing of the new century, noting in passing their impact on our educational task and not forgetting the characterizations provided in previous posts to schools:
Advances in technology (computers, robotics, new materials …) have profoundly altered forms of production. Today is not considered as important as labor investment in technology, communications and knowledge development (of new techniques, new forms of work, the relationship between production and consumption). This brings obviously important social and cultural changes. And poses a major challenge for educators.
The economy has globalized. Capital knows no boundaries: Segment occurs in different parts of the world, and is also sold in a globalized market. All of this has serious consequences in the labor market and the social imaginary.
International and social imbalances tend to worsen: the rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer, and this in an increasingly fast. Whole continents are excluded from the market, and large sectors of the population (including developed countries) are outside the loop material and symbolic goods of society.
Worldwide unemployment rises, not as a problem but rather structural cyclical. The economy does not contemplate the possibility that everyone has a decent job. Whole sections of workers, in the same dynamic, proletarizan. Among others, the education.
It aggravates the environmental problem. The environment is deteriorating rapidly, depleting traditional energy resources, the current development model reveals incompatible with the preservation of the ecosystem.
Caen totalitarianism and occurs worldwide wave of democratization that does not seem to be cyclical. Along with that, we see a strong process of demilitarization, to the Cold War and nuclear disarmament and with the fall of the military regimes in different parts of the world. But while resurgent nationalism and xenophobia, leading to serious violence and racial social and even civil wars and ethnic. And we know from experience that school problems due to issues of ethnic, national or social equity are not only elsewhere.
The major political parties and representation become outdated or perceived weakening them. It occurs in societies a crisis of participation (people are losing interest in politics) and representation (appear many who do not feel represented by traditional structures). Arise, therefore, new actors and forms of social participation, linked to more partial claims: environment, neighborhood problems, ethnic or cultural issues, human rights, minority rights …
Technological advances produce a real revolution and multimedia. This brings important consequences not only economic and trade, but also cultural. No need to move from home to stay in touch with everyone, in “real time”. The “virtual reality” opens new doors for creativity and education, and also challenges traditional forms of communication with serious anthropological implications. Educators were posed the crossroads of trying to keep up with the poor resources often have resigned or accepting that advances are not for everyone. Many children can take advantage of the Internet, but many others will not have access to knowledge (and even recognition as equal citizens, beyond the formality of the DNI and the vote).
Continues and deepens the process of transformation of the social role of family and working women. Your new insert mode brings huge changes in the structure of society and family life.
Science and technology opened the doors of the bio-technological revolution and genetic manipulation: In a short time you can modify human reproduction, almost at the request of individuals or companies needs, deepening the current practice of modeling body and personality by technical means.
Far from disappearing, religion acquires new forces in the world today. Even further to the fore again magical practices that seemed overcome; become popular conceptions of mystical type before circumscribed to traditional cultures. At the same time, some positions are radicalized fundamentalists in both Islam and Christianity and Judaism.
Each of these points could be the subject of extensive treatment, and certainly appear more challenges for which we have no definite answers and even a cursory review formed. It goes without saying that these consequences are profound changes in individuals, communities and organizations. How do we stand, as a Christian community, as an educational community, with such enormous and intractable conflicts like those just pluck? Our reflection on hope now we will try to find our way through roads through equivocal: an insight into the various attitudes that may arise between us regarding these challenges.
Working our way toward hope
First, there are those who develop a naively optimistic attitude to change. Always assume that humanity moves forward (everything new is always better), and are supported by various “facts” to certify their optimism: the potential of the information revolution, the predictions of the “gurus” of the first world, new forms of business organization, the end of ideological conflicts …
They believe that the great social and international imbalances will successfully overcome the current heading deeper. Technology will solve undoubtedly the problems of hunger and disease. The ecological crisis is manageable recipes using new techniques. The school is, well, the place where all these advances offer new generations, who will undoubtedly use them for good. Almost there listening to those illustrated in centuries past.
What to say to this position? For one, their basic belief lacks any serious foundation: there is no guarantee that there is an upward progress in human history. There may be, yes, various improvements in various fields. But, in fact, a lot of data, as the ecological crisis and the recently attenuated (forever?) Possibility of a nuclear holocaust, fill us with alarm, rather than trust. The terrible experiences of this century, and we coach them about the enormous capacity of irrationality and self-destruction that humankind possesses. Civilization has proved quite barbaric.
Surprise the remarkable ability of this position, to close our eyes to the negatives (which are few, as we have seen) of scientific and technological progress or serious limits exhibiting various forms of social and political organization, while exhibits full confidence in indeterminate impersonal forces, like the market, awarding capacity to seek the welfare of all.
Combined with self pose, whether an individual, a group or a state. Do not expect more than itself. It enforces the rules of the game. Unable to view the actual wound and sin, does not know how to assist destitute persons. It is an attitude of serene defacing confidence knowing their talents and limits, properly estimating their chances and the whole of which it is part. Because man can forget his works constitutive finitude and mortality.
On the opposite wing, are those who take a critical stance cerradamente, pessimistic about any change process. Being located “outside” of it, reported its most destructive, generalizing and condemning its perverse effects on the entire block movement. They are experts in finding conspiracies, in deducing dire consequences for humanity, to detect disasters. By analogy with a spiritual and theological movement of the second century. C., this mentality is often called “apocalyptic”. It relies on a basic belief as weak as that of the opposite view: the negative aspects of the historical realities are projected imaginatively to its most dreadful possibility, and that image is taken as the proper expression of the historical process.
The phobia of change who tend to make this attitude can not tolerate uncertainty and retract the dangers, real or imagined, that all change brings. School as a “bunker” that protects against mistakes “outside” is caricatured expression of this trend. But that image reflected in a shocking experience what many young people to graduate from educational institutions: an unsolvable mismatch between what they were taught and the world in which they live.
Of course, behind this mentality pessimistic conception of human freedom and, therefore, of historical processes, which are almost in the hands of evil. And you get to a paralysis of the intellect and the will. Depressive and sectarian Paralysis: not only is there is nothing to be done, but you can not do anything to avoid catastrophe, except abroquelarse in shrinking core of the “pure”.
They also feel disappointed with God, whom they blame for things going wrong. Are impatient with the slowness of the alleged actions of God. Some choose to hide behind a defensive wall, smacking his grief and others choose to escape in bonuses nones. The same is true when it comes to personal failures, without assuming that surround or transcend them, but they leave tangled.
We can still find other equally sterile attitude: those who realize the difficulty of any particular action and then “wash their hands”. Interestingly, they share the pessimistic diagnosis of what makes social and historical reality, but take away the burden of resentment ethics: if you can not improve the situation of mankind as a whole, whatever we can do. That “what to do”, usually has to do with acting in the line of developments and critically analyze dominant trends without trying to redirect or ethically. This attitude is often characterized as pragmatic, because it separates the individual or historical praxis of all spiritual and ethical consideration. Necessarily have to ignore the claims of justice unconcealed, historical humanity or social responsibility. His pessimism is as strong as previously described for the position, but does not lead to paralysis, but hypocrisy or cynicism. Also in our educational reality, sometimes more attentive to issues “cash” or the appearance of “excellence” that trying to bring something to the building of a more humane society.
On the path of discernment
At these positions, the hope, never rule anything out of hand, chooses to draw a careful discernment rescue the appearance of truth given in each of these attitudes, but find the way to a more comprehensive and constructive. And that, for their own reasons, which we show below.
In reality, there are many elements that, if properly focused, can greatly improve the lives of human beings on earth. There is no doubt that technology has placed in our hands very powerful tools that can be put at the service of man. We can not deny the progress we mean the process of emancipation of women, the communications, the contributions of science in regard to the health and welfare of people, expanding horizons that have brought social media to million people who previously only moved in the world reduced their local community and work to survive.
Similarly, we can not naively ignore the dangers that the current process holds: dehumanization, serious social and international conflicts, exclusion and death of multitudes … The apocalyptic pessimism is not free: in many ways, and for many people, the future reveals a menacing face. It is also true that it is difficult to shoot an attitude of genuine hope in someone who has not had the disappointment of what he wanted.
And yet, at some point you need to “bite the bullet” and go on living, but not much space left ideals. “Better is the enemy of the good”, and that’s how pragmatism also takes its share of truth.
What do we conclude from this? That hope appears, at first, as the ability to weigh everything and keep the best of everything. To discern. But that insight is not blind or improvised is performed based on a series of assumptions and guidelines in order to, ethical and spiritual. Involves asking what is good, what we want, where we want to go. Includes an appeal to values, which are based on a worldview. Ultimately, the hope is tied strongly to the faith. So hope sees farther, opens new horizons, invites other Honduras.
Hope holds many unseen human waits, which are fixed term. Hope needs to legitimize that prove effective mediations, are already introduced and incarnations materialize, although not exhaustive, the highest values. While waiting there in vain, that are not conducive to a full humanization, unaware or stunted its being thoughtful (and reduce the order of sensation or matter), deny their personal condition that is done in love and to be loved, and curtails its opening to the Absolute (disdaining their ability prayerful worship and exercise).
So, we could articulate the criteria that allow us to discern better, overcoming the divorce between doing and believing. While prevent seduced by idols always redivivos. Let’s priority: to love over reason, but never back to the truth, to being over having, a comprehensive human action on transformative praxis that favors only the effectiveness, the helpful attitude about doing rewarding, to the vocation penultimate last about motivations.
Roots of Hope
If history is not, as was believed at the time of full respect for the ideals of modernity, a progressive and linear progress towards a hypothetical realm of freedom, a triumphal march of reason, but before us, who live in these difficult times of disappointment, postmodernism and turn of the century as the stage where he spent the ambiguous human drama, unscripted drama and no guarantee of success, what can be the foundation of hope? And not just for hope “strong”, but also the motivation to hold an immediate commitment, face to face, but with fruits deferred in time.
This is a question and themed by philosophers and theologians: the consistency of the future as anthropological dimension and in the perspective of the Christian faith, the relationship between eschatology and history, between the hopes of the Kingdom and build the earthly city. Of course we will not go here to discuss these issues, arguing and explaining the biblical, historical and theoretical support leading to certain statements that are, at this point, heritage of the whole Church. Simply present a simple way some issues that justify our faith and enliven our hope.
For Christians, the belief that bases its position on the reality relies on the testimony of the New Testament, which speaks of Jesus Christ, God made man, whose resurrection inaugurates between us and the Kingdom of God. A Kingdom not purely spiritual or interior, but comprehensive and eschatological. Able to make sense of all human history and any compromise in that story. And no “from outside”, from a mere ethical or religious, but “from the inside”, because that Kingdom is already present, transforming and guiding it toward its full compliance history in justice, peace and fellowship of men among themselves and with God, in a future world transfigured.
In recent times, existed among many Christians feel that the presence of the Kingdom could generate, upon the historic compromise, an advance real, concrete, in this new world. A better, more just and humane, who came to be a kind of first draft or a prelude to what we expect for the end of time. Moreover, it was believed that the action of Christians could truly “advance” the coming of the Kingdom, as the Lord had placed in our hands the opportunity to complete their task.
But things did not go as expected. Clearly in our country, but not only here, attempts to humanize the economy, to build a more just and fraternal, to broaden the spaces of freedom, wellbeing and creativity, were depleted and dynamic bending to the overwhelming concentration of capital characterized the last decades. At attempt to realize the utopia followed the resignation of accepting internal and external constraints. In the statement supplanted desirable to reduce the possible. The promises were not fulfilled. Moreover, being revealed only an illusion … Consider whether the current lack of younger generations in politics, or other collective projects have to do with this experience of frustration.
But is that postmodern disenchantment, present not only in politics but also in culture, art and everyday life, it drags any hint of hope founded on the hopes of the Kingdom? Or, on the contrary, the idea of the Kingdom that starts with us, the core of Jesus’ preaching and action, and close but not intimate experience among believers after his resurrection, still has something to tell us at this time? Is there, beyond those identifications perhaps too linear, any relationship between the theological message of the Kingdom and the particular history in which we are immersed and which are responsible men?
We have always been extremely inspiring the parable of the seed growing by itself (Mark 4.26 to 29). But we find it increasingly more difficult (for experience and intellectual honesty) understand it from the idea of ”development”. Jesus would not be talking here about that history will “mature” over time, by the hidden action of the Kingdom, reaching correctly. Simply because the idea of an “organic growth” it was strange old man. Between the seed and the fruit not seen continuity but contrast: an almost miraculous. The parable of Jesus was trying to show the Kingdom as a reality hidden from human eyes, but it will produce its fruit by the action of God, regardless of what the sower.
Does this mean accepting a dissociation between human effort and divine action? Do you justify an attitude of skepticism or pragmatism? In a way, is what happens to many people today. Individualism and postmodern aestheticism, if not cynicism pragmatism and contemporary, are the result of historical certainties fall, loss of sense of human action as a builder of something objectively and concretely better. Also in the case of some Christians, can be expressed in a simple “live the moment” (even if the “moment” of spiritual experience) passively waiting for the Kingdom “fall” from heaven.
But Christian hope has nothing to do with it. In any case, we must recognize that there is no linear continuity between history and consummation of the Kingdom, in the sense of a continuous advancement or promotion. Individual and the consummation (the definitive encounter with God and the resurrection personal transfiguration) happens in the vast majority of cases for a terrible moment of “discontinuity” of failure and destruction (death), there is no reason to reject that same thing can happen with the story as a whole. This is the truth of the apocalyptic mindset: this world is passing, no fullness without some form, although we can not predetermine what, destruction or loss. But even without any continuity: that’ll resurrect myself! It will be the same humanity, the same building, the same story will be transfigured in the fullness of time! Continuity and discontinuity. A mysterious reality of presence-absence, “and” fulfilling promises but “not yet” in a full. A Kingdom that effectively “close” at all times, in all places, even in the worst of human situations. And that one day no longer be hidden from full and patently manifest.
Hope and history
What certainties are we then? What elements gives us faith to justify the hope?
First, this story, and not an alleged “spiritual dimension”, is the place of Christian. The location of the response to Christ, the place of realization of our vocation. This is where the risen Lord comes to us through signs to recognize in faith and respond in love. The Lord is coming, is coming, in many ways perceived with the eyes of faith and the sacramental signs in the life of the Christian community, but also throughout human manifestation where is the communion, promotes freedom, is perfected God’s creation. But it also comes on the back of the story: the poor, the sick, the marginalized (cf. Mt 25.31-45, and the Puebla Document, 31-39). It’s coming from all these modes, and the meaning of the final consummation is inseparable from all these goings.
And here another dimension makes sense of hope: the vitality of memory. The Church lives in the memory of the Risen. Moreover supports its historical path in the certainty that the Risen One is the Crucified Lord who comes is the same as delivered the Beatitudes, which broke bread with the crowd, who healed the sick, forgave sinners, who sat at table with publicans. Remembering Jesus of Nazareth by faith in the Lord Christ enables us to “do what he did,” in his memory. And here is incorporated whole dimension of memory, because the story of Jesus is connected with the history of men and peoples in their searches imperfect a fraternal banquet, an enduring love. Christian hope, thus awakens and perhaps buried power energies of our past, personal or collective, the grateful memory of the moments of joy and happiness, perhaps forgotten passion for truth and justice, the sparks of fullness love has been our way. And also, why not, the memory of the Cross, failure, pain, this time to transfigure exorcising the demons of bitterness and resentment and opening the possibility of a deeper meaning.
In addition, tension toward that consummation tells us that this story has a meaning and a term. God’s action began with a Creation atop which is the creature that could respond as image and likeness, with which he could build a relationship of love, and it reached its mature with the Incarnation of the Son, must culminate a full realization of that communion in a universal. Everything created must enter this final communion with God, which began in the risen Christ. That is, there must be a term like perfection, finishing positive loving work of God. A term that is not immediate or direct result of human action, but a saving act of God, the finishing of the work of art that he began and which would free associate as partners.
And if this is so, faith in the eschatological consummation Parousia or becomes foundation of hope and foundation of Christian commitment in the world. The story, our story, is not wasted time. Anything that goes in line with the kingdom of truth, freedom, justice and fraternity, will be recovered and plenificado. And this has not only for the love with which things were done, as if the work does not matter. Christians have done, many times, too much emphasis on the “good intentions” or the right intention. The work of our hands, and not only the heart of our self-worth, and to the extent that the line is oriented in the Kingdom, God’s plan, will be enduring in a way that we could not imagine. Instead, what is opposed to that Kingdom, in addition to having their days numbered, will be definitely ruled out. It will not be part of the New Creation.
Christian hope is not, then, a “spiritual comfort”, a distraction from the serious tasks that require our attention. It is a dynamic that sets us free from all determinism and every obstacle to build a world of freedom, to free the story of the chains of selfishness, inertia and injustice which tends to fall so easily.
It remains to say a few final words. This way we have done, from the disenchantment of the turn of the century to the faith in the coming of the Kingdom and hence the recovery of hope and concrete commitment, opens new possibilities for the educational task entrusted to us and we have embraced with love. I note these invitations concrete hope leads us to:
The invitation to cultivate personal and social ties, placing value on friendship and solidarity. The school is still the place where people can be recognized as such, embraced and promoted. While there will not be neglected a valid dimension of efficiency and effectiveness in the transmission of knowledge to our young people a place in society, it is essential that we are “masters of mankind.” And this may be a very important contribution that Catholic education provides to a society that seems to have given up its constituent elements as a community: solidarity, a sense of justice, respect for others, particularly for the weakest and small. The fierce competition has a prominent place in our society. We contribute our sense of justice and mercy.
The invitation to be bold and creative. New realities require new responses. But before, require an open mind to conduct a constructive insight, not cling to certainties stale and encourage other forms of capture glimpses values, not turn its back on the challenges of the present time. Here’s a real test for our hope. If you are in God and His Kingdom, will know freedom from burdens, fears and reflections sclerotized for daring to build the new through dialogue and collaboration.
The invitation to joy, to gratitude, to the party. Perhaps the worst injustices of the present time is the tyranny of utilitarianism, the dictatorship of the sternness, the triumph of bitterness. It’s in the authenticity of our hope to discover knowledge in everyday reality, grounds, large or small, to recognize the gifts of God, to celebrate life, to get out of the chain of debits and credits and deploy the joy of be seeds of a new creation. To make our schools a place of work and study, yes, but also-and, I would say, first of all, a venue, meeting and gratuity.
And finally, the invitation to worship and gratitude. In the fast paced daily existence, we may forget to address that thirst for communication that inhabits the depths. The school may introduce, guide and help sustain
the encounter with the living, teaching enjoy your presence, to trace his footsteps, to accept his “hiddenness”. The pin has to be treat with Him aficionarse
I encourage you to take these words of men since then, to speak to God in this new century, in the continuity of the same love:
Move me, at last, your love and in this way,
that although there were no heaven, I love you,
and although there were no hell, I feared.
I have to give because you want;
for though I hope not expect,
I love you just as you wanted.
In Lent, the Holy Year Jubilee.
Bishop Jorge M. Bergoglio S.J.
Archbishop of Buenos Aires