I have been planning this for some time, and now I am able to announce it: Tau Cross Books and Media will soon be publishing a book of my translations of the writings of Pope John Paul I. Its title is A Passionate Adventure: Living the Catholic Faith Today. It contains homilies, articles, talks and other writings on various aspects of the faith that he wrote from the early 1960′s to 1978. I planned it to coincide with the opening of the Year of Faith this October 11.
The best explanation of the title was made by Pope John Paul I himself, in this passage of the book, taken from a Christmas homily in 1961:
Paul sums up the whole Gospel well when he says, dilexit me et tradidit semetipsum pro me (Gal. 2:20): “He loved me and gave himself for me.” But St. Paul was not content with summing up; he drew some practical conclusions. That love, he said, is only the first love; now must come the second, mine. Christ has written the first page of the book; now I must write the second. The immense love that Christ has for me leaves me no peace, it compels me, it cries out to me: “Get moving, Paul, and do something for him in return” (cf. 2 Cor. 5:14).
And he really got moving: he set out to follow Christ as though on a impassioned and passion-inspiring adventure. That time when I was on horseback on the way to Damascus, he says, Christ seized me and made me his. I was happy to become his prey; so happy that, from that time on, I have tried to run after him in an extraordinary chase in which one is at once hunter and prey (cf. Phil. 3:12).
Here is a program worthy of a true Christian.
To further whet your appetite, is another little snippet from the book on the question of the relationship between science and faith. It comes from his reflections on the closing of the original Year of Faith in 1968:
. . . Is it really true that today human beings no longer have any need of God? Once, it has been said, science and technology were in their infancy, and religion grew gigantic. God was made to intervene as an explanation of the great many things that were not known and as a remedy for the many diseases for which there was no medicine. But now! Science and technology are arriving, or are about to arrive at the point where they can explain everything, find the remedy for everything; more and more space is being taken from God; better eliminate him from now on from the arc of human experience!
In other words: religion is only a pre-scientific human and cultural phenomenon, it will gradually disappear until it is dispelled with the advance of science.
In speaking this way, they suppose that science and religion, technology and God are antagonistic to each other. It is true, on the contrary, that both science and technology as well as religion are necessary components of man. Has science grown, become gigantic, by purifying itself of a thousand false theories and forms of ingenuousness that hindered it? Religion grows and is purified too; and religious people purify their own ideas on the most high God from some forms of ingenuousness or superstition of the past; they no longer think, for example, that they can entrust to God alone the task of constantly intervening and repairing the little breakdowns of the machine of the world and humanity! The conclusion to be drawn, if any, is this: if science has grown from a baby to an adult, religion too should be allowed to become adult! To a purified science that has made progress, should correspond a religion that has been purified and perfected. We should not say: “man is either religious or technical-scientific,” but “a well formed man is scientific and religious and even when he grows gigantic in science, God remains as necessary to him as bread and the sun.”
Let’s imagine him, this “giant,” ascending the successive steps of a ladder:
First: he has become so “gigantic” that he knows all the laws of the universe. It is a great step ahead, even from the present state, but I ask: doesn’t it still happen even now that, in those laws that he knows, an exception arises that he has not foreseen? Don’t the formulas used to express the law still have to be considered provisory, relative, something to be perfected through new and future investigations? If yes, man does not entirely dominate the laws, but is still dominated by them. And anyone who is a true scientist must admit it, saying with a scientist’s modesty: there is something that escapes the control of my instruments and my calculations; I think that it belongs to another field of research, in which philosophers work; the results of the work of the philosophers – I am sure of it – will tell me that what should be suppressed is not God but that way of presenting God that may possibly contrast with the very certain data of science.
Second step. The “giant” has arrived at the point of really grasping in his fist all the forces of nature in a way that no exception escapes him and he can press all the “buttons” to direct the entire cosmos. Yes, but there is still a problem: who is the origin of the forces and the cosmos? Who has given him, the “giant,” the power to dominate them? Who if not someone, who existed before the forces he has discovered, who is above him, of whom old Metastasio said:
. . . I admire you in your works,
Do I recognize you in me?
Third step. Man not only dominates human acts themselves, but dominates them through technology; through mechanical apparatus, the acts are foreseen, channeled toward certain fixed ends, regimented with acts of other persons, and accurately registered. That’s fine, but I ask again: are the human acts subjected to technology in this way subjected to it completely or only in part? If completely, it would be the ruin of man, the end of thought and freedom; it would be absurd. If in part, it will certainly happen that once he has escaped the intricate web of mechanization and technology that have partially imprisoned him, man will hasten as soon as possible outside, into the open air of thought and liberty to enjoy periods of respite for originality and authenticity; his mind will yearn to know new things; along with having freedom, he will hunger and thirst for choices and options. Now, among the things that can be known and chosen, there will always be mystery, the infinite and God. Always, then, it seems that there must be in man a religious sense and a certain need for God!
I hope to have the book available as an e-book by the end of September, and a print version shortly after that. More updates will be available on the Tau Cross Books website.