When Does The Person Begin?

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


According to Dei Verbum, of the Second Vatican Council, 'the "study of the sacred page" should be the very soul of sacred theology'57.  Therefore I hope, even if I am no Scriptural scholar, to show how immensely stimulating are the pages of sacred Scripture.

More particularly, and with respect to the theme of this book, it was the Scripture which raised the mystery, as it were, of the spirituality of being open to life.  For even if a principal of uncertainty is implied in Humanae Vitae, it is the Scripture which gives this principle flesh in the life of Mary and Joseph - not to mention others - and both reveals and develops its Christological significance: as it was the Scripture which even suggested, earlier on, that this Christological significance may even be there to be investigated.  And while this will be considered in more detail subsequently, what can be said here (and bearing in mind that Pope John Paul II has written The Gospel of Life), is that the vision of life to which we are called is, in a sense, the vision of God.

In Familiaris Consortio we find a further indication of what I have now begun to call a spirituality of being open to life.  It is expressed in the Pope's call to families to recognise the missionary dimension of their vocation to be the domestic Church58.  This involves an openness to each other, the believing community and a disposition of service to man.  Finally, it seems as if this openness in the heart of the family is fundamentally related to the activity of the Spirit in the human heart59.  For it is the Holy Spirit who 'led' Jesus 'into the wilderness' (Mt 4: 1), positively drove the apostles to the works which are recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, and is the Person who makes the person 'born of the Spirit' like the wind (Jn 3: 8).

The person of the Spirit can be understood in two ways: the person born of the Spirit is of a certain nature61; and, secondly, an expression of that nature is that they are in some sense in movement: a movement which is as difficult to 'follow' as the origin and destination of the wind.

This raises the following question: what creates an openness to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit?  In other words, although there is an increasingly clear connection between being open to life, being open to Christ and being open to Christ's gift of the Holy Spirit, it is not at all clear what creates this active openness to God.  But what is clear is that each 'family' has to listen to what the Spirit is saying (cf. Rev. 2: 7) to each one of these domestic Churches; and so what emerges is, as I have indicated, a question for each family: what is the Spirit saying to each of us?  Thus it could be said that being led to listen and to act in the Spirit is fundamental to understanding, it suddenly seems to me, the spirituality of being open to life.

Therefore just as Mary's "Yes" changed her life, as indeed did Joseph's acceptance of it, so we are called to live out of an openness to the will of God which is, as it were, only ever incompletely revealed to us and, therefore, calls, per se, for the love of being led by the Holy Spirit, through our Lord Jesus Christ, to the God the Father.

57 Dei Verbum, art 24, page 764 and footnote 3 of VCII.    Back
58 FC, articles 52-54, pages 97-102.    Back
59 FC, art 13, page 23.    Back
60 All Scriptural references are to the following edition unless they are a part of a quotation or another edition is given in the footnotes: The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1966).    Back
61 Cf. CCC art 1996, page 483.    Back

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