Generative Thought

Generative Thought: An Introduction to the Works of Luigi Giussani

Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 216
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    Generative Thought
    Book Description:

    The various contributors make clear the relevance of Giussani's thought to the North American and Western cultural and religious context. They point to an important element in all of Giussani's work - his proposal that the Christian Event is the answer to the deepest and most pressing questions in today's world. With his clear and vigorous awareness of the cultural, philosophical, and theological issues central to the contemporary debate, Giussani succeeds in making the truth of the Catholic tradition both reasonable and relevant. Contributors include Lorenzo Albacete (Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico), Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires), Remi Brague (Université La Sorbonne, Paris), Carlo Caffarra (Archbishop of Ferrara-Comacchio), Ralph Del Colle (Marquette University), Ravan Farhâdi (United Nations), Giorgio Feliciani (Catholic University of Sacred Heart, Milan), Neil Gillman (Jewish Theological Seminary, NY), David J. Horowitz (DHMA Inc, NY), Rodney Howsare (DeSales University), Nikolaus Lobkowicz (Catholic University of Eichstätt), Gilbert C. Meilaender (Valparaiso University, Chile), John O’Connor (Cardinal Archbishop of New York), Marc Ouellet (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity),Javier Prades (Theological Faculty, San Damaso, Madrid), David L. Schindler (John Paul II Institute, Washington, DC), Angelo Scola (Pontifical Lateran University, Rome), J. Francis Stafford (Pontifical Council for the Laity), Shingen Takagi (Koyasan University, Japan), and Michale Waldstein (Internationales Theologisches Institut für Studien zu Ehe und Familie, Gaming, Austria).

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7148-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Ian Ker

    In his address to the ecclesial movements and new communities at Pentecost 1998, Pope John Paul II referred to the key text in the Second Vatican Council’s constitution on the Church,Lumen Gentium, where the council asserts: “It is not only through the sacraments and the ministrations of the Church that the Holy Spirit makes holy the People [of God], leads them and enriches them with his virtues. Allotting his gifts according as he wills (cf. 1 Cor 12:11), he also distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank… he makes them fit and ready to undertake various tasks...

  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    Luigi Giussani’s work, which is clearly evident in the ecclesial, cultural, and social dimensions of Comunione e Liberazione (Communion and Liberation), the Catholic lay movement he founded in the 1960s, needs no introduction. Communion and Liberation (CL) is now present in more than seventy countries worldwide. In addition, several of Giussani’s principal texts have been translated into English, and they now circulate widely even in the Anglo-American world. In any case, an extensive general presentation of Giussani’s work is well beyond the scope of this book, which will have achieved its purpose if it awakens in readers a desire to...

    • 1 A Style of Thought
      (pp. 3-33)

      “It greatly concerns us to use our utmost endeavors clearly to discern, and have it well settled and established, wherein true religiosity consists.”¹ This affirmation of Jonathan Edwards, whom Luigi Giussani, a scholar versed in North American Protestant theology,² defines as “the greatest philosopher-theologian of American Puritanism,”³ gives a good description of Giussani’s intentions inReligious Awareness in Modern Man.⁴ Concern for the true nature of the religious fact pervades the whole of Giussani’s work and constitutes — as his imposing bibliography shows⁵ — one of the main lines of the articulated web of his thought.⁶

      Giussani himself offers us...

    • 2 Christianity: A Fact in History
      (pp. 34-39)

      I discovered Luigi Giussani’sReligious Awareness in Modern Manonly very recently, and I will treat it in a way that is both affectionate and distant, as a friend and as one who does not belong to the movement founded by Msgr Giussani. Thus I will try to appropriate its content for myself and to transmit what I have absorbed. I have heard a voice speak to me, and I can do nothing other than return the favour. The booklet collects the texts of a few conferences, edited very simply and directly, and is divided according to a similarly simple...

    • 3 The Spirituality of Luigi Giussani
      (pp. 40-48)

      In terms typical of Giussani’s thought, “spirituality” can be defined as a relation with a Mystery that is perceived by the religious sense as totally transcendent and yet at the origin and as fulfillment of those defining human experiences that he calls the “original” desires of the heart.¹ Giussani also uses the expression “original experiences of the heart,”² which is similar to Pope John Paul II’s concept of “primordial experiences” in the “Wednesday Catechesis on Human Love,” where he uses this concept to construct what he calls an “adequate anthropology.” The point of departure for both, therefore, is the experience...

      • 4 Living the Real Intensely
        (pp. 51-57)

        In the first chapter of his bookOrthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton tells the story of “an English yachtsman who slightly miscalculated his course and discovered England under the impression that it was a new island in the South Seas.” One might think the man felt rather stupid, Chesterton notes, but he points out that “His mistake was really the most enviable mistake … What could be more delightful than to have in the same few minutes all the fascinating terrors of going abroad combined with all the humane security of coming home again … What could be more glorious than to...

      • 5 The Religious Sense
        (pp. 58-72)

        In the fourteenth chapter ofThe Religious SenseMsgr Luigi Giussani recalls the change of Jacob’s name to Israel at Penuel.¹ His reflections on the patriarch’s story point up the incommensurability between infinite human desires and finite human capabilities. Its usefulness in understanding Giussani’sapologiafor the religious experience will become apparent.

        Giussani highlights the need for engaging every bit of human strength in the search for God. Here is his account:

        Returning home from exile: that is to say, from the dispersion or a foreign reality, [Jacob] reaches the river at twilight, and darkness is rapidly descending. Already the...

    • 6 An Extraordinary Educator
      (pp. 73-78)

      Let me start with a quotation from Dostoevsky. “The bee knows the secret of its beehive, the ant knows the secret of its anthill, but man does not know his own secret — the structure of a human being is a free relationship with the infinite, and therefore, it has no limits. It bursts through the walls of any place within which one would want to restrain it.”¹ This quotation (which is also discussed by Cardinal Stafford in chapter 5 of this collection) is cited by Giussani inThe Religious Sense. That book bears witness to the paradoxical nature of...

    • 7 For Man
      (pp. 79-83)

      When I gave the lecture on which this chapter is based during the presentation of the Spanish edition of Luigi Giussani’s bookThe Religious Sense, I was not simply performing a formal act of protocol or acting out of what could seem to be simple professional curiosity about a work bringing into focus an explanation of our faith.¹ Above all, I was expressing the gratitude that is due to Msgr Giussani. For many years now, his writings have inspired me to reflect and have helped me to pray. They have taught me to be a better Christian, and I spoke...

    • 8 The Religious Sense and American Culture
      (pp. 84-102)

      Commenting on the cultural situation of the Anglo-Saxon world, the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre once remarked that our “difficulty lies in the combination of atheism in the practice of the life of the vast majority, with the profession of either superstition or theism by that same majority. The creed of the English is that there is no God and that it is wise to pray to him from time to time.”¹ Luigi Giussani’s account of the religious sense, set forth in his book of the same title, helps us to see that this is the creed not only of the English...

      • 9 Mystery Incarnate
        (pp. 105-112)

        At the Origin of the Christian Claimis a difficult book, and difficult, as well, for me to introduce.¹ How can one get at the very subtle, complex mind of Msgr Giussani? He does wonderful work with Communion and Liberation and is a straightforward, ordinary person to meet. But he writes with extraordinary subtlety and in a very compressed fashion. This time — and I say this with great respect — he has outdone himself in density, even in turgidity. And if you want to grasp this book, you really have to work at it. Even though it is little...

      • 10 The Christian: Subject of a New Culture
        (pp. 113-127)

        The purpose of this essay is to present faith as a new principle of knowledge and action and, thus, as the source of a new culture. My point of departure will beGenerare tracce nella storia del mondo(1998), which gathers together the main lines of a reflection on Christian experience developed by Msgr Luigi Giussani over the last several years.¹ The systematic character of this book allows for a meaningful reflection on the problem of faith, a problem that lies at the very heart of human life and of the life of the Church.

        The point of view from...

      • 11 Toward Human Flourishing
        (pp. 128-132)

        I do not claim to be an expert on the thought of Msgr Luigi Giussani or even on his trilogy —The Religious Sense, At the Origin of the Christian Claim, andWhy the Church? — although I have read them and taught a class using the first two. In fact, I had heard of Communion and Liberation but did not know the he was the founder, nor had I any first-hand contact with cl. It was Robert Gotcher who introduced me to Giussani’s books when I was his faculty observer for a course he was teaching at Marquette University....

    • 12 Against the Theological Prejudices of the Age
      (pp. 133-142)

      While I was finishing my dissertation during the spring of 1998, the chair of the theology department at Marquette University gave me the opportunity to teach two upper-division courses in the fall of 1999 called Explorations in Theology. The course is one of the systematic theology electives in Marquette’s undergraduate program. Since I was just about done with my dissertation and had not yet found full-time employment, I jumped at the chance. I had been eagerly reading the first volume of Giussani’s trilogy,The Religious Sense, and was thinking how much fun it would be to read it with a...

    • 13 The Only Point of View
      (pp. 143-146)

      Saint Robert Bellarmine writes that when seen from the valley, the mountains appear extraordinarily big and the stars extraordinarily small. However, if we could place ourselves in the heights of the firmament, the stars would seem extraordinarily huge and the mountains, even the loftiest, so small as to be almost invisible. A question of our point of view? the great theologian asks himself. A question of our point of view, contemporary nihilists undoubtedly affirm. Christianity affirms that we have come to know God’s “point of view” and thus that this point of view is theonlytrue one, that is,...

      • 14 Ecumenical by Its Nature
        (pp. 149-155)

        I must begin by expressing my gratitude to Msgr Giussani. Even though when I first became acquainted with Communion and Liberation, I was too old to be able to actively participate, in the true sense of the expression, his thoughts have decisively changed my way of conceiving what it means today for a lay person to be a disciple of Christ. I met him for the first time in Milan in the autumn of 1984 and asked him to help me liberate the University of Eichstätt, the only Catholic University in Germany, from a Catholicism devoid of joy: he spontaneously...

      • 15 A Presence That Can Be Touched
        (pp. 156-160)

        In the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark, in the New Testament, shortly after having called his first disciples and performed several healings, Jesus goes off by himself to a lonely place away from the crowds and prays. The disciples come looking for him “And Simon and those who were with Him pursued him, and they found Him and said to Him, ‘Every one is searching for you.’”¹

        That verse is not a bad summary of Msgr Giussani’s understanding of the Event that lies at the heart of the Christian claim and of the human longing that Event answers....

      • 16 Common Root and Christian Claim
        (pp. 161-166)

        I have learned a great deal from Msgr Giussani’s two volumesThe Religious SenseandAt the Origin of the Christian Claim, and they have stimulated a wide range of reactions, unfortunately only very few of which I can describe here.¹ I read the books and speak to you now as a committed, believing, and observant Jew, a rabbi, and a Jewish professor of theology. At the core of my religious identity is the conviction that God’s covenant with Israel is eternal, unshakable, and irreplaceable. I must say this as candidly and forcefully as I can, at the very outset,...

      • 17 Abraham and Liberty
        (pp. 167-172)

        I could never have imagined that in the United Nations, where I first presented a version of this chapter and where discussion of secular subjects limits anybody who would like to mention the name of God, I would have faced an audience of such distinguished personalities. I was very much impressed by what had been said before I spoke about a small but very dense book that takes a great deal of time and attention to read, Luigi Giussani’sAt the Origin of the Christian Claim.

        All theologies face the following question: does human effort suffice as the source of...

      • 18 Intercultural Dialogue
        (pp. 173-176)

        I first had the privilege of meeting Msgr Giussani ten years ago at Mount Koya, a sacred site in Japan. Mount Koya, or Koyasan, was established as the seat of Shingon Buddhism in the ninth century, nearly twelve hundred years ago, by the monk Kukai, or Kobo Daishi, as he is posthumously known. Kobo Daishi was also a renowned educator. In the year 828 he founded perhaps the first private college in the world, locating it in the capital of Japan of that time. The school, called the Shugeishuchiin, provided an ideal educational program for the common people. Msgr Giussani...

      • 19 The Religious Sense and Modern Man
        (pp. 177-181)

        I am neither theologian nor philosopher, so I can speak about the religious sense and modern man only from my own experience. I am, after all, a modern man.

        In 1997 I was privileged to participate at the Meeting in Rimini sponsored by the Catholic movement Communion and Liberation. Attending the Meeting meant that I had to prepare myself to speak about who I am and what I do, as well as to play my music for what I hoped would be an appreciative audience. In the process of writing my remarks, I found myself wanting to look at my...

      • 20 Educating in Reason
        (pp. 182-186)

        Like any university professor I have written a great deal over the course of my long academic career, but never has a text for publication involved me so personally as did the few pages that I wrote as a preface to the volumePorta la speranzaby Luigi Giussani.¹ It did so because the author and his proposal for the Christian life enunciated in his first writings of were and still are decisive for my life. I am referring above all to the writings that were completed between 1959 and 1964 and collected in the first section ofPorta la...

      • Contributors
        (pp. 187-188)
      • Sources of Contributions
        (pp. 189-192)
      • Profile of Luigi Giussani
        (pp. 193-196)
      • Selected Works by Luigi Giussani
        (pp. 197-200)