December 5, 2013

Pope Francis to students: Respond to the challenges of the present moment

"It is through the idea of God that the rational metaphysics of the philosophers accomplishes its principal task of clarifying the human mind. For the human mind needs logic in order to form clear and distinct ideas which may reach the heart and cleanse it with morality. In just this way, the poetic metaphysics of the first giants, based on their idea of Jupiter and their sensory logic, created a poetic morality. In their atheism, these giants had warred with heaven. But when they beheld Jupiter's lightning bolts, terror subdued them, laying low not only their bodies, but also their minds, in which they imagined the frightful idea of Jupiter. (Being incapable of reasoning, the giants conceived this idea through their sense impressions which were formally true, but materially false: for this logic suited their natures.) And this frightful idea of Jupiter in turn inspired their piety, and thus planted in them a poetic morality. From this natural origin of human institutions arose the invariable property that minds must be laid low and humbled if they are to profit fully from the knowledge of God. By contrast, pride leads minds into atheism, so that atheists become giants in spirit, who in Horace's words declare 'In our folly we assail the very heavens', Caelum ipsum petimus stultitia.

Plato clearly identified Homer's Polyphemus with such pious giants, an interpretation which we may confirm by citing the words which Homer himself assigns to this giant. Polyphemus tells his fellows that the misfortune he has suffered at Ulysses' hands was foretold by an augur who once lived among them; and clearly augurs cannot live among atheists. Thus, poetic morality originated in the piety which divine providence ordained as the foundation of the nations. (Indeed, among all nations, piety is popularly called the mother of all the moral virtues - personal, domestic, and civil. And if philosophy is useful in discussing virtuous behaviour, religion alone is capable of inspiring it.) And piety originated in religion, which properly consists in the fear of divinity. The heroic origin of the word 'religion' was preserved among the Romans, according to the scholars who derive it from religare, to bind. For this verb refers to the chains which bound Tityus and Prometheus to mountain cliffs, where their heart and organs were devoured by an eagle, the symbol of the frightful religion of Jupiter's auspices. This was the source of that invariable property of all nations, that piety is instilled in children by their fear of some divinity." - Giambattista Vico, New Science, Pg. 207-208.

Video Title: Pope Francis to students: Respond to the challenges of the present moment. Source: Vatican. Date Published: December 4.
Pope Francis on Saturday continued the long-standing papal tradition of celebrating the Vespers for the first Sunday of Advent with the students and educators of Rome's universities. In his homily, the Pope spoke of God's intervention in our lives as "an expression of His fidelity". God intervenes because human nature is fragile. But He is, above all, faithful to Himself and "to the work He has begun in each one of us", always bringing it to completion. "This gives us great confidence and security: a confidence that rests in God and requires our active collaboration and bravery to face the challenges of the present moment", he said.