Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How Can I Know?

Perhaps so many relationships break down today because we are aware of the certainty only of the verified hypothesis, and do not admit the ultimate validity of anything not scientifically proved. Thus, the essential phenomena of human life escape us, with their quite different kind of certainty, which is in truth far higher.

Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith, 20

Reflection – This is an interesting hypothesis Ratzinger is advancing here – I’m not sure if I totally agree with it (for once!), and I mean that with all the respect possible. But he could be right, for all that.
I tend to think relationships fail so much, either because of that earlier question I raised of ‘who will do the loving? or other reasons – failure to communicate, a lack of realization that relationships have to be constantly invested in, worked at, or that kind of thing.
But Ratzinger does raise an intriguing possibility, and he certainly does highlight a significant reality of any truly human relationship. Namely, that there is always an element of risk, of faith, of having to jump into it, commit yourself to it without the guarantee of full knowledge and scientific certainty.
“How will I know if he really loves me?’ Whitney Houston asked when I was a teenager. The truth is, Whitney, you won’t! You don’t! You can’t! Love is a chance, a risk. Any love is that, any commitment. I want to get married… become a priest… join Madonna House… become a nun… a monk. Will it work out? The only way to find out is to do it. No guarantees.
We know that this is a terrible struggle for many people today – indeed, I’ve heard from reliable sources that it’s hard to get people today to commit to a dinner party or a lunch date, let alone a marriage. But it’s at its root an issue of faith. And not only faith in the person you are marrying, or the community or diocese you are joining. Faith, really, in God – that even if the commitment fails you, even if it doesn’t work out, at least not as you were hoping, that there is a deeper love, a deeper truth, a deeper reality that holds us and does not let us go no matter what. Even if we fail, He does not. And this is the ground so many lack today, the ground which makes it possible to commit yourself irrevocably to any vocation.

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