When Does The Person Begin?




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"Each One of Us is an Icon of the Beginning"

The truthful naming of a thing reveals what that thing is

The point of this introduction to the definition of the word 'integral' is that a vision is at work in everything at which we work: a vision not our own101.  But while this vision is not our own in that it is not by our act of creation come into existence, nevertheless it is not a manipulation of us to conform our thinking, not just to the Church,102 but in conforming it to the Church, to God.  Does not any pupil learn from their teacher; and does not any teacher draw out the pupil's talent for learning?  For the fact that 'Truth can impose itself on the mind only in virtue of its own truth, which wins over the mind with both gentleness and power.,'103 implies at least three things about the nature of truth.

Firstly: the existence of truth is prior to our seeking it - or better: its existence originates our search for it.

Secondly: our dialogue with the truth is an inherent part of our search for it: as if dialogue104 is a fundamentally methodological vehicle of it.  In other words, true dialogue is intrinsically ordered to the truth; hence, as it were, the growth into the world of the instrumental value of dialogue in the resolution of political and religious conflict, not to mention the increasing realisation that dialogue is a dynamo to all that is capable of development.  For dialogue and development are as inseparable as conversation and cooperation.

Finally: the 'gift' of the truth determines the work of our conformity to it; and, as grace builds on nature, so this reveals the pursuit of truth, in whatever discipline, in whatever legitimately diverse and complementary way, to be a natural introduction to the mentality of conversion: of turning out of ourselves towards another: towards the Other: towards the origin of dialogue in the Three Persons in One God of the Blessed Trinity.

Thus the fact we can know what a thing is, the fact our understanding 'begins' in observation, is indicative to me of the original unity between the thing made and the human capacity to understand what a thing is.

Therefore the first meaning of the word "integrity" would be that which proceeds from physical integrity;105 and what is physical integrity if not the physical integrity of something.  Therefore there is even in the ordinary use of language what I will call its open side:106 its constitutive relationship to what exists.

It is this "given," that is expressed in the book of Genesis: the book in which the mystery of our beginning is described (cf. Gn 1: 1; 2: 4).  But this description of it, exists in relation to it, as does the mystery of it to the literal sense used to refer to it.  In the words of Gregory: 'Holy Writ by the manner of its speech transcends every science, because in one and the same sentence, while it describes a fact, it reveals a mystery' (Moral. xx. 1)107.




References
101 Cf, John Paul II, Catechesi tradendae, art 6, page 765 of VCII, Vol II (New York: Costello Publishing Company, 1982).  Abbrev. VCII, Vol II, Ct; and cf also SuTh, Part 1, Qu 1, Art 10, page 7: 'God, Who by one act comprehends all things by His intellect...'    Back
102 Cf, Instruction On The Ecclesial Vocation Of The Theologian, by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger et al, (Published by the Catholic Truth Society, London [Do 598], in conjunction with Veritas, Dublin, 1990), art 35, page 22: "sentire cum Ecclesia".  Abbrev. EVT.    Back
103 Cf Dignitatis Humanae, art 1, page 800 of VCII.    Back
104 Cf Pope Paul VI, Ecclesiam Suam, translated by the Rev. H. E. Winstone M.A., (London: CTS [Do 354], 1964), articles 58-119, pages 37-63.  Abbrev. ES.    Back
105 SuTh, Pt 1, Qu, 1, Articles 9-10, pages 6-7.  What St. Thomas Aquinas says here is useful for understanding the nature of language generally, although clearly his observations concern Scripture particularly.    Back
106 The two influences at work here are the openness of 'the pierced side of Christ' referred to by Pope Pius XII in Mystici Corporis (London: CTS, 1948), art. 27, page 18, which supported one's sense of openness being fundamental to the person of Christ and therefore to the nature of 'person'.  Abbrev. MC.  And secondly, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's expression: the Bible's 'internal capacity for going beyond itself, belonging to its very essence...,' on page 19 of his, Transmission of the Faith and the Sources of the Faith, a lecture reproduced by the Apostolate Of Catholic Truth, Preston, England.  Abbrev. TFSF.    Back
107 SuTh, Part 1, Qu 1, Art 10, page 7.    Back

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