When Does The Person Begin?

Home Page Articles Links Contact Us

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

A definition of an 'integral vision'114 of man

In Blackie's Compact Etymological Dictionary, 'integral' is related to In 'teger which comes from the Latin' integer, untouched, entire,' and thus includes in its sense both whole as related to entire, but also 'original perfect state' as related to untouched.  Furthermore, there is integrate: to combine into a whole and to complete; and, finally, an integer is a whole number as distinguished from a fraction.115  Thus the many meanings of this word indicate how well chosen it is to designate a vision of man.  For this word positively includes the union of parts to make a whole; and the fact that the whole is 'greater than the parts.'

Therefore an integral vision of man is one which apprehends him in his original entirety, but which implies, nevertheless, the fall of man,116 an openness to what can be learnt and expressed in the present situation,117 through the progress of time, and is orientated to his final end.  In other words an "integral vision of man and of his vocation, not only his natural and earthly, but also his supernatural and eternal vocation"118.

Man is made in the image of God

A first principle of an integral vision of man is that man is made in the image of God, the God who says : 'Let us make man in our* image, after our* likeness...' (Gn 1: 26; cf. also 5: 2).  Thus man is an image of God.  But this is not because man chose this for himself but because this is the "gift" of God to man: the gift of God in making the being of man to be the image of God.  But the 'image of God' has both a singular and a plural meaning, because the God in who's image man is made is both singular and plural.

The singular meaning of man is made in the image of God is that man is made in the image of the Christ who 'is the image of the invisible God' (Col 1: 15)119; and 'only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light'120.  Therefore man in his singular unity is a person: a manifestation of the mystery of the Person that each member of the Blessed Trinity is and which is in a sense expressed in God becoming a man.  Further, God does not by His own admission exist as an undifferentiated Person.  To be God and to be a Person are indissolubly expressed in the mystery of the relationship of Father to Son, of the Spirit to the Father and the Son, and so God becoming a man is an articulation, of itself, as it were, of the irreducible particularity of being a person.  In other words, just as in God, God is the Person of the Father, the Person of the Son and the Person of the Spirit, so when God became man, God gave concrete expression to His particularity of Being God the Son, in becoming a particular man: the one who comes for all.

But man is made in the image of a God who is, as it were, a plural being: the one God who is the three persons of the Blessed Trinity.  Therefore, man in his plurality of being 'male and female,' man in the diversity of being male and female, is man as a manifestation of the irreducible diversity inherent in God being the Blessed Trinity.  Pope John Paul II seems to refer to this when he says womanhood and manhood are ontologically complementary, which he further explains to mean: 'It is only through the duality of the "masculine" and the "feminine" that the "human" finds full realization'121.

114 FC, art 32, pages 60 and 59; and cf HV, art 7, page 10; and cf Humanae vitae, art 7, page 400 of VCII, Vol II; and cf. Congregation For The Doctrine Of The Faith, Instruction On Respect For Human Life In Its Origin and on The Dignity Of Procreation, (Donum Vitae), (London: CTS [S 395], 1987), page 6.  This document uses variations of this expression throughout.    Back
115 BCED, page 173.    Back
116 Cf, HV, articles 20, 25, 29 and 31 particularly, pages 20-1, 24-5, 27 and 28-9 respectively.    Back
117 Cf, HV.    Back
118 FC, art 32, page 60, quoting HV, 7.    Back
119 This is not the place to explore the possibility of Christ communicating in the mystery of His own being, the plurality in Being, except in passing.  For because Christ is the Son of God, He is necessarily identified by His relationship to the Father and to the Holy Spirit.    Back
120 Gaudium et Spes, art 22, quoted in art 8, on page 24 of Pope John Paul II, in Redemptor Hominis, translation published by the Vatican Polyglot Press, (London: CTS [Do 506], 1979).  Abbrev RH.    Back
121 LTW, art 7, page 12.    Back

Home Articles Top Next

Copyright © 2010 - All articles written by Francis Etheredge
Copyright © 2010-2015 - Website designed, written and maintained by Grace Mason
All rights reserved