Embracing Our Humanity |

Embracing Our Humanity

Published Date : 2018-11-26

Embrace the Human

INTRODUCTION TO PERSPECTIVES 01: EMBRACING OUR HUMANITY God’s embrace of creation and humanity was from the first moment of Creation, as the two Creation stories in Genesis 1 & 2 attest. God looked at Creation, including the creation of a man and a woman and said “it was good.” God’s embrace of humanity was “summed up” when the Word became Flesh (Jn. 1:14), as Justin Martyr and St Ireneas teach us. It was a “recapitulation” of God’s engagement with us and...
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By: Antonio Spadaro, SJ

Facing Death with Humanity and Solidarity

Reading newspapers or surfing the web in the days after a recent intervention by Pope Francis on end-of-life issues, one would have found it difficult to get a clear idea of the actual content of his message. The various headlines, often on the front page, spanned a wide range from “Living Will, the Change of Francis”[1] to “Euthanasia, No Change by the Pope”[2] with many more formulations in between. Readers who went beyond the headlines would certainly have been able...
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By: Carlo Casalone, SJ

Discern and Accompany: Indications from 'Amoris Laetitia'

It is the merciful love of the Father with which he loves his Son as “the concrete-living one,” says Romano Guardini, and God loves each and every one of us individually in Christ as “concrete-living beings” in our unrepeatable uniqueness.  It follows that such a type of universality and singularity does not correspond in morality to a mere unequivocal and ahistorical casuistry, nor to an equivocal and relativistic situation ethics. What is required is an accurate discernment, like the one proposed...
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By: Juan Carlos Scannone, SJ

Moments of Doubt

Counseling the doubtful is a spiritual work of mercy widely attested to since the origin of Christianity. It shows the intellectual and wisdom dimension of the discipleship of Jesus and of the works of charity. It is not a technique that is learned, a sort of persuasive ability, but it is tied essentially to knowledge and to the spiritual path. Counsel is a concrete act and the first work of charity, interpreted as the ability to understand the difficulties of...
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By: Giovanni Cucci, SJ

Doubt: Threat or Opportunity?

An emblematic term for our era Doubt can be considered a watchword for people today. It is the premise for the construction of any solid, critical and complete thought based on reason alone without any recourse to authority or tradition that would penalize liberty or autonomy. The key philosopher of doubt is of course Descartes. According to him it is most useful because “doubt frees us from any sort of prejudice; it prepares for us an easy pathway to habituate our...
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By: Giovanni Cucci, SJ

Happiness: A Delightful Foretaste of Eternity

A universal experience that eludes definition Happiness is hard to define precisely. It has a vast array of synonyms with slightly different meanings that can take us in different directions (wellbeing, satisfaction, gratification, pleasure, joy, contentment). At the same time, people of all ages and cultures are familiar with it; happiness is understood all over the world. Those who live outside of their native country and know at least two languages give similar answers on respective questionnaires, even if the...
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By: Giovanni Cucci, SJ

Growing in Discernment: Aids for Growing in the Ability to Discern

In a private meeting with Polish Jesuits in Krakow, Pope Francis said: “the Church needs to grow in discernment; in her capacity to discern.”1  He emphasized the importance of priestly formation and exhorted the Jesuits to work together with seminarians, especially by “giving them what we ourselves received from Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises: the wisdom of discernment.”2 But what is discernment? There are a lot of good theoretical definitions of it. Here I simply take it to mean the capacity of our...
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By: Diego Fares SJ

Sadness: Precious Teachings from this Emotion

Sadness, along with the vast array of synonyms which are difficult to distinguish precisely, is certainly not a desirable or attractive feeling. As a result, since World War II, we have tried to eradicate this feeling, to propose a vision of existence that symbolizes perfect serenity. The article shows the attempts of this exclusion and the costs incurred, and highlights the importance this feeling has for a healthy and full life from the spiritual and psychological points of view. Sadness,...
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By: Giovanni Cucci, SJ

“Advances in the studies of philosophy and psychology have come to recognize more and more the profound ties that unite cognition and emotion.”

Antonio Spadaro, SJ editor-in-chief La Civiltà Cattolica


As we read in ‘Gaudium et Spes’, there is no joy or sadness, doubt or certainty, tragedy or hope that fails to find an echo in our hearts.

Today more than ever we need to embrace the human, that is, our humanity, our personal life, the life of our neighbors, and the challenges of history.

La Civiltà Cattolica has decided to gather into one volume articles we have published between 2017 and 2018. This special edition of La Civiltà Cattolica, is the first in our Perspectives series.

The collection opens with a reflection on reason and emotion. These are often considered to be in opposition to each other, not only by common opinion, but also in psychological and philosophical studies, for they are seen to be incompatible with the rigor and the scientific nature of these disciplines.

Sadness though not a desirable or attractive emotion is a part of life and helps us grasp the richness of life’s meanings. In particular, it is not opposed to joy but makes it possible, for it represents its specular face, as night does the day, carrying important lessons in living well.

Happiness is difficult to define precisely being a vast array of emotions particularly open to interpretation by people of every age and culture.

Doubt can be considered the typical state of modern people. Since Descartes we have learnt to doubt everything, putting up for discussion all that we had received, and giving our assent to what is clear and distinct. To certainty.

However, gradually many people move further and further away from speculative and affective perspectives, leaving them prisoners of Doubt. That said, is Doubt necessarily a negative quality? We look at some consequences showing the need for Doubt, even for the life of faith.

It is impossible to elude one important theme when speaking of life and humanity: death and dying.

In his message to the World Medical Association (WMA) in November 2017, on the theme “End-of-Life-Questions”  Pope Francis confirmed his “no” to both euthanasia and to “overzealous therapy.”

Writing about the “dutiful” suspension of disproportionate care and the judgement of the sick person. Countering every form of abandonment, he insists on “responsible closeness” and palliative cures. In conclusion, he labels “therapeutic inequality” as an injustice that end-of-life decisions must consider, and the need to seek shared solutions – even legal ones – in democratic society.

This edition concludes with two reflections on discernment.

Pope Francis often affirms that the Church needs to grow in discernment, in ability to discern. But what, effectively, is discernment?

It is a process to find an answer.

A process in three steps. The first is the discovery of those impediments that undermine this gift, which is so propitious for the spirit and enriching for all. The second is that of consolidating some general criteria that help appreciate what is at stake when choices are made. The third step is a short presentation of the originality and valid help that the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius offer to those who desire to enter into a process of discernment or to accompany others along this path.

‘Embracing Our Humanity’ is the first of many ‘Perspectives’ to come. It is a journey through our human experience, and a guide to make this journey in a way that is fully human and fully Christian.