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The total response Print E-mail
By Pope Francis   
Monday, 15 April 2013

Human beings cannot be content with reductive or partial answers that force them to censor or neglect some aspect of reality. In fact, however, we do neglect some aspect of reality, and when we do so we are only running away from ourselves. We need a total response that comprehends and saves the entire horizon of the self and our existence. We possess within us a yearning for the infinite, an infinite sadness, a nostalgia - the nostos algos (homesickness) of Odysseus - which is only satisfied by an equally infinite response. The human heart proves to be a sign of a Mystery, the needs for happiness, love, and justice never meet a response that satisfies the human heart. Life would be an absurd desire if this response didn't exist. Not only does the human heart present itself as a sign, but so does all of reality. The sign is something concrete, it points in a direction, it indicates something that can be seen, that reveals a meaning, that can be experienced, but that refers to a reality that cannot be seen, otherwise the sign would be meaningless.   
 
On the other hand, to interrogate oneself in the face of these signs, one needs an extremely human capacity, the first one we have as men and women: wonder, the capacity to be amazed, as Giussani calls it, in the last analysis, a child's heart. The beginning of every philosophy is wonder, and only wonder leads to knowledge. Notice that moral and cultural degradation begin to arise when this capacity for wonder is weakened or cancelled or when it dies. The cultural opiate tends to cancel, weaken, or kill this capacity for wonder. Pope Luciani once said that the drama of contemporary Christianity lies in the fact that it puts categories and norms in the place of wonder. But wonder comes before all categories; it is what leads me to seek, to open myself up; it is what makes the answer — not a verbal or conceptual answer — possible for me. If wonder opens me up as a question, the only response is the encounter, and only with the encounter is my thirst quenched. And with nothing else is it quenched more.

 

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