Missionary Conversion. Reflections on faith, evangelisation and interculturality

2023. május 31.

The shortest and easiest way
to ascend to the knowledge of oneself
and from there to the
attributes of God,
mercy, wisdom, infinite patience and goodness,
is to lower ourselves to give light to children,
especially to those who are most neglected.

(Letter of Calasanz no. 1236)


Introduction - the mission: desire for God

We grope our way in faith. Hoping against all hope. It would be good to see, but in reality we long not for seeing but for finding and being found, not for the ability to see but for the gift of encounter. This is what Simone Weil[1] seems to mean when she analyses the relationship between desire and possession and suggests that we need to learn a lesson about desire. “And it is not human nature to desire what one has”, she writes. Since “in human nature, there is no other source of energy for effort but desire” – an effort without which “one would lose what one has” – the pursuit of a misguided goal leads us into the treadmill of our self, we end up in a cycle “like a squirrel in a cage” unless we learn to desire what is ours. Just think of Jesus, who hears the plea of the blind man of Jericho, but gives him something else, something that goes beyond seeing with the eyes, the seeing of faith (cf. “He immediately regained his sight and followed him on the way” Mk 10:52). András Visky's[2] “God Story”, in which he recalls the experience of the first encounter with his father, speaks of the same thing, of the simultaneous presence of two opposite poles, the “not-knowing and the knowing”, of this tense back and forth movement that does not keep us trapped in a treadmill. The six-year-old boy who meets his father for the first time in his life answers his father's question “Do you know your father?” with “I did not know him before, but now I do.” András Visky calls this encounter a God story because "[the] recurring element and defining motif of God stories told by humans is all this complexity of belonging and not knowing." This "we did not know and we recognise", this recognition despite blindness has to do with faith, with seeing through faith as regained sight.

The same dynamic of faith, of discipleship, of being a Christian is expressed in other pairs of opposites. "Flee" and "stay" are the exhortations in the stories of the desert fathers and mothers, not necessarily in the same sentence, but always in such a way that they form the context for each other. A stabilitas that is not stagnation, and a flight that is not an escape from reality. Mission, evangelisation, is also something like this, something that can be articulated in pairs of opposites and must be lived in tension. Precisely because mission is not simply one of the many activities of the Christian, but the living out of our Christianity, our discipleship. Mission, being on the way - or as Pope Francis likes to say, going out, going forth ("en salida") - has nothing to do with conquering others, not even with converting them. It is not about pushing the boundaries of Christianity. It is not about converting others, it is about converting ourselves.

When Jesus says, "Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do" ( Mk 1:38), he is not going vagabond. He goes, but not because he is tired of the incorrigible people in Capernaum or because he is bored with them. The people see him as the thaumaturge, the miracle worker, and he wants to distance himself from all that. It is a kind of "fleeing" from the entangling and binding relationships that would envelop both Jesus and the people in Capernaum in a false reality. From there, Jesus retreats into solitary prayer; into a situation where he can come into contact with the one from whom his true reality comes, from whom he derives his identity. It is here that Simon and his companions, who are looking for him, say to him: "Everyone is looking for you". From here he goes out to evangelise the surrounding villages, saying as his final reason, "This is why I came out". Solitary prayer in the retreat and going out have a common source: the identity of being someone who has "come out", which is a constant source of impulse forward.

This is the final reason why evangelisation is not proselytism but conversion, not territorial occupation but personal growth of the preacher of the Gospel. And the moment loneliness turns into individualism, the moment I confuse growth in faith with self-improvement and fall into a kind of spiritual navel-gazing - the autoreferentiality Pope Francis speaks of - the Gospel of Jesus sends me "out", sends me on a journey to the other person "so that I may proclaim it there too". There is no recipe for when to go out, we can only recognise false boundary stones - but we can learn from them. It is not when I consider the spiritual perfection of myself personally or of a community to be complete that I have to move on; that would lead to the aforementioned autoreferentiality. It is not when we are good enough or when there are enough of us that I need to move on. The momentum and the urge to go on is not the result of an abundance, but of a sense of something lacking, of the desire that Simone Weil spoke of: an expression of faith, of the search for God. It is not that Jesus goes on after he has healed everyone and preached the Gospel to everyone in Capernaum. If he has achieved anything, it is not the building of a pastoral system, but the sowing, the sowing of a seed that grows by itself. I am not leaving because I am no longer needed here. On the contrary, I have to turn away from a place - or, as we saw above, "flee" - when false expectations pull me into a false reality, as much as they need me.

Faith is something to be learned, or rather, a learning. Therefore, it can be interesting to dive a little deeper into understanding what happens to us when we are on mission, when we experience our faith as being "sent out".

In what follows, I would like to share some of my own experiences and those of my community. In other words, I would like to present here some elements of the learning process that constitutes the faith experience of the Christian community that began with and is linked to Saint Joseph Calasanz, the Piarists. These are not simply the faith experiences of a sub-community, but those of a Christian community linked to the Church as a whole, even if these experiences are linked to a specific vocabulary shaped by particular situations in the life of the community. The word of the Gospel is spoken here in a space marked by key words such as children, poor, young, humility, lowering oneself, growth, learning, school, encounter, accompaniment, community, collaboration, incarnation, reality, everyday life, Eucharist, humanity, conversion, the Crucified, Mary, the Church and obedience. This "Piarist space" is a space of the Gospel, a space of the faith. It is hoped, therefore, that the experiences made in this space will help all Christians to understand themselves and the faith, indeed that they will help them to believe.


Taking root

The history of the Piarist settlement in Indonesia began with an interesting decision. Together with the Superior General, the members of the team decided to embark on the foundation without prior planning and with the resulting uncertainty. Going to a foreign country is a risk, but going somewhere without being invited, without being asked, is a particular risk. What is really worth mentioning, however, is the fact that even though it was a mission, they deliberately refrained from having a project with concrete goals. They were not simply open to Providence to take on the mission. The real reason for this "planlessness", this indeterminacy, was a conviction that significantly influenced their missionary self-confidence and self-understanding. They were guided by the conviction that they were not only - or not primarily - emissaries, but seekers; they did not bring something, but had come to get something; they were sent, but at the same time had come to encounter the One on whose behalf they were travelling in a new way, like a stranger. The lack of a plan was an expression of openness, but an openness that responds to the strangeness and presence of the sender in a strange world.

Michel de Certeau writes[3] that the apostolic and missionary movement "is not primarily about 'conquering', but about recognising God in places where he has not been seen before. The journey into the "desert" or abroad flees from the Christian cities of yesteryear, where the faith was in danger of becoming enclosed, comfortably seated in powers and systems; it begins a journey into countries, languages and cultures where God speaks a language not yet decoded and not yet recorded”. “Faith never ceases to have to recognise God as different, i.e. to be present in areas (cultural, social, intellectual) where one thought he was absent.”

This presence is expressed very concretely in the fact that we never start from scratch with new foundations. Most of the time we can build on earlier Christian, ecclesial antecedents that preceded us, but if there are no such antecedents, there are “human” antecedents. These are the “things in human experience” that, in the words of Hans Urs von Balthasar[4], were available to Jesus, not just as an alphabet that could be vaguely syllabified, but “as a formed language”. There is no "greenfield investment" in the absolute sense, and to connect with what is already there is to acknowledge this aforementioned presence.

As a Christian on mission, entering into a new, different culture, my immersion - my inculturation - is not something that happens in advance, in preparation for and for the sake of the essential, but the essential itself. And precisely because it is not a one-way process, I not only give but also receive. Perhaps, since we are talking about an encounter, we should be even clearer. It is not a transaction, but an encounter: basically, I do not bring something, but I encounter someone.

What the Piarist missionaries did in the past as a first step was to teach, build schools and try to establish an organisational framework as quickly as possible. In the first phase, they concentrated their efforts on creating an institutionalised activity. It was hoped that if they were committed enough and did their work well, they would be so attractive that sooner or later they would find people in the local population to follow them. In recent times, however, the first step of mission is not activity and certainly not institutionalisation, but " pastoral care for vocations" or the promotion of vocations. The first thing we need to do is to seek "those of us", the Piarist vocations. More precisely, we seek those who have received the Piarist charism from the Holy Spirit.

Do we look for signs of the charism in them? Yes, but we should not see it as having a preliminary profile with elements that can be ticked off and looking for, if not 100%, a sufficient match. We do not interview on the basis of a job description. The process (and let me mention the technical term "discernment") is rather like looking for another incarnation of the Dalai Lama in Martin Scorsese's film Kundun. We do the same thing by seeing how the person resonates, not with objects, as in the case of the Dalai Lama, but with situations, with people, what the Piarist world means to them, how they feel in the Piarist space I mentioned.

This Piarist space is, as we have already seen, a space of the faith, and as such it is at once defined and open. Defined because it goes back to the past, without this past it is unnameable, formless, inarticulate. It reaches the present through the mediation of a story. We tell stories to create it, to identify Joseph Calasanz, how he came across the little "school" of the Church of Santa Dorotea in the poor district of Rome, in Trastevere, how he accepted the vocation and followed the words of his heart: "The poor entrust themselves to you, for the orphans you will be the patron." And so on. The Piarist space, a space marked by the faith, and as such a space of the Church, is fundamentally "sacramental": a space that evokes faith, that helps those who inhabit it to respond with faith. What St Paul says in his letter to the Romans (Rom 6:17) about faith and the "form of doctrine" to which the addressees of the letter were "delivered" and to which they responded with faithful obedience also applies to this space. "This being delivered to the word that teaches us," writes Joseph Ratzinger[5], "is a being delivered to Christ. We cannot accept his word as a theory, as we learn, for example, mathematical formulae and philosophical views. We can only learn it to the extent that we enter into a communion of fate with him, and this we can only draw on where he himself has permanently united himself with people in a communion of fate: in the Church. In the language of the Church, we call this process of being delivered "sacrament'. The act of faith is inconceivable without the sacrament.”[6]

When we enter the Piarist space, we do not get entangled in a confused past, but we go back to the origin, to the founder, to the moment of birth, the moment of "conceiving" (Hans Urs von Balthasar[7]). That is why there is no profile to measure the new member against. Instead, there is an inspiration from the origin, a momentum, a direction whose real anchor is the future. For the narrative that is essential to the creation of this "sacramental" Piarist space has the same effect on the faithful as the Holy Scriptures and enters into the same relationship with them. "Sacred Scripture," writes François-Xavier Durwell[8], "is not a letter addressed to the Church at the time of her youthful betrothal, which she keeps in her archives and reads again when she is old: the betrothal is celebrated today, the letters come from the future, from the Lord who always calls us to a future union."

This is the reason why, when we seek partners, we are not actually seeking Piarists, but a new Calasanz. We are not measureing the chances and success of fitting into an established body, but what the encounter with the origin does to him. We are not looking for members of the Order, we are not building our little tribal world, we are not propagating the Order, but we are looking for believers, for the faithful, for people who share the vision of Jesus (J. Ratzinger)[9] and who want to live and act according to that vision in the Piarist space. Therefore, in the vocation discernment, we listen together to how the potential confrere resonates[10] with this space: how he feels in it, whether he can serve, grow, evangelise, encounter. So, if anything, we are building the Church, but not in the way one builds a large enterprise, but in the sense of a communion of destiny with Christ: the Church which is "in Christ like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race", as the Second Vatican Council put it in its "Constitution on the Church". A language community "whose business", as Church, as Herbert McCabe[11] writes, " is to remember the future. Not merely to remember that there is to be a future, but mysteriously to make the future present". So the ultimate goal of inculturation, of rooting, is twofold: to learn to remember the future in another culture, and to help that other culture learn to remember its own future in the Risen One. The horizon of our search for confreres - the promotion of vocations, the search for new Calasanzes - is the coming Kingdom of God. This absolute openness to the future is the deepest reason for the "planlessness" mentioned earlier in connection with the mission in Indonesia.



Slowly we realise that while the process of inculturation is about going out and exposing ourselves, we are by no means "naked". It is impossible to shed our first culture. "Of course we can make an effort," writes Jacques Scheuer[12], "to enter into another culture, to embrace it. But this effort [...] is based on our first, the 'mother culture', with its possibilities, its limits, its specific structure. How can we jump over our shadow? Our culture sticks to our skin." We carry with us, whether we like it or not, our own mother culture, but our real contribution - what we really want to offer - is not simply our culture. Our real contribution is faith. We offer it wrapped in the fabric of a culture, but the relationship between faith and that fabric is similar - or rather the same, for we are talking about exactly the same thing - as the Chalcedonian dogma speaks of the dual nature of Christ: the two, inseparable but not confused, form a unity. Our “mother culture" does not even stick to our skin, but is our skin, our body itself.

So it is not good, indeed it is impossible, to hide the fact that we are not naked. It is impossible to strive for a culturally sterile space, for what would emerge would only appear to be neutral, for it would obscure our essential tasks and in reality lead to unacknowledged oppression and violence. The most important task - and perhaps there is nothing else to learn - is precisely to live well the relationship between faith and one's own mother culture. Here we learn to remember the future that appears in the Risen One.

For this reason, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger[13] suggested in 1993 at a meeting with the Doctrinal Commissions in Asia, a committee of theological advisers of the Asian Bishops, to speak of "meeting of cultures", "inter-culturality" instead of inculturation: “For inculturation presumes that a faith stripped of culture is transplanted into a religiously indifferent culture whereby two subjects, formally unknown to each other, meet and fuse. But such a notion is first of all artificial and unrealistic, for with the exception of modern technological civilization, there is no such thing as faith devoid of culture or culture devoid of faith. It is above all difficult to envision how two organisms, foreign to each other, should all of a sudden become a viable whole in a transplantation which stunts both of them. Only if all cultures are potentially universal and open to each other can inter-culturality lead to flourishing new forms.” This seems to be the case indeed. For when we offer faith in the substratum of a culture, we offer, as we have seen, a vision of a common future, a glimpse of the Kingdom of God in the making. Our message is an invitation; we do not look back but forward, we do not want to absorb the other but to enter into communion with him. What we offer - faith - is a vision, as we heard from Ratzinger. It does not erase anything in the new culture. Nor does it tear those out of their own culture who belong to the new culture. It helps to a deeper, more comprehensive vision, "leads to new forms" in which one becomes more oneself. But the situation of interculturality, with its fundamental "inter", its "relatedness", seems to make it even clearer that the "old" culture, the one that in a sense can already be called Christian, has something to learn, and that this is essentially the same learning task that the new culture must face: learning to remember the future. Learning the language of faith, which is almost our mother tongue, but which we still have to learn, because “fiunt, non nascuntur Christiani”, one becomes a Christian, one is not born to it, as Tertullian says.

From this it is clear that looking to the future has nothing to do with a desire to erase the past. The past is very necessary for the understanding of what we learn when we accustom our eyes to it. What we seem to need most in this learning process is distancing, the establishment of the "relatedness" mentioned above. We need a notion of identity in which we identify not with the past but with the future of the past. We need to recognise and acknowledge that we are not identical with the past, but are in a relationship with the past, with tradition. We should not understand our identity as "already being there" - a kind of in-culturality - but as being in a process of approach, in a distanced relationship of learning, assimilation, identification - a kind of interculturality. Thus we remain hearers of the Word. Or, as Péter Esterházy[14] says somewhere: to make it clear that "my tradition is not the same as me, I am the work I do on this tradition, with this tradition".

This work on myself and my tradition is an ascetic process, it involves asceticism. Not only in the sense that all learning requires renunciation. It is about going out, going to the margins, to the not-self, to the stranger. It is about becoming homeless and displaced[15], not simply as “missionary” work in the sense of spreading the faith, but as part of my own process, the work I do on my tradition and, with my tradition, on myself. The story that creates the Piarist space begins almost of its own accord – like a seed that sprouts, even if the sower does not know how – to act on those who want to listen: It makes them work. It asks them questions, addresses them personally, and provokes them: Where is your Trastevere? who are the children entrusted to you? where are your poor? what is your vocation? will you hear the call? will you accept the challenge?

Calling someone's attention to their strangers – calling their attention to their strategic silence[16] and the latent logic behind it, that they are deaf, blind, inattentive, say nothing – will result in their being called forth. But here, too, it becomes apparent that this is not a break with the past, but a call to work on tradition, because it leads one to one's own strangers. My important experience is that such "inner strangers" exist everywhere: from the Aeta people in the Philippines[17] to the Adivasi tribal people[18] in Kerala, India, to the Mam in Guatemala[19] or the indigenous Papuans in the province of Papua in Indonesia[20]. I have encountered these "strangers" everywhere when I have visited the local Piarists. The story of Calasanz calls me forth, invites me to solidarity, to community - and to a vocation that is my own: to work on my tradition.

The whole monastic tradition is about this. Entering into community is not a retreat, not even a withdrawal, but an exiting, an enterprise in going out. For as Rowan Williams[21] puts it, “It is a call into a community that finds its deepest unity in God, and not in the simple natural affinities of the world around. It stands alongside all these forms of belonging – ethnic, political, linguistic, familial – and says that the Body of Christ is a new nation, a new polis or city, a new language taught by the spirit, a new family."

Faith and tradition call us to learn, to listen, to understand, not to copy, not to preserve. Or, if you like, to truly copy and preserve, to copy and preserve the future that our ancestors saw and wished for. Something that does not exist, something that cannot happen without learning, without constant work on my tradition and, with the help of my tradition, on myself. This is why Henri de Lubac[22] speaks of the Church as a permanent workshop: "Just to imitate primitive Christianity or the Middle Ages will not be enough. We can revive the Fathers' all-embracing humanism and recover the spirit of their mystical exegesis only by an assimilation which is at the same time a transformation. For although the Church rests on eternal foundations, it is in a continual state of rebuilding, and since the Fathers' time it has undergone many changes in style; and without in any way considering ourselves better than our Fathers, what we in turn have to build for our own use must be built in our own style, that is, one that is adapted to our own needs and problems. We should gain nothing at all by breaking with an unhealthy individualism if in its place we dreamt of an impossible return to the past, for that is either an illusion which breeds schisms or a childish fancy which dulls the mind."

One could hear from these words - as from those of Esterházy - a kind of desire for emancipation, if only because of the reference to childishness. It is important to understand that this is not the case. Adulthood is not a privilege, an escape, a youthful restlessness, but a task. The alternative to this is the position of the elder brother in the story of the prodigal son. In other words, a way of staying at home whose ultimate problem is perhaps not so much immaturity as bad temper, or what expresses itself in that bad temper and bitterness: an inner and insurmountable alienation. Paradoxically, it is a kind of "intimacy that makes the Lord an idol, an object possessed and reduced to itself, under the pretext that it cannot be separated from an inapprehensible truth", according to Michel de Certeau[23].

Part of the tradition of faith is the dynamic of going beyond oneself and out of oneself. Marcel Mártonffy[24], analysing the relationship between Esterházy and the Catholic tradition, reminds us precisely of this: "Perhaps it is enough to point to the realisation, widespread in Hungary especially since Babits, that catholicity in the linguistic situation of modernity can only mean something other than a continuous and risky open dialogue with everything that is not itself, at the price of denying its traditional self-definition." If it does not take this risk - the risk of dialogue with everything that is not itself - it creates idols, a chimaera that produces schisms.



In the passage from Lubac quoted above, there is another phrase worth pondering. In connection with the revival of tradition, he speaks of the effort of transformative assimilation ("assimilation transformatrice"). We can understand this transformation as the process of assimilating the tradition into ourselves. However, when our author, who speaks of building according to our needs, mentions the problems emphatically, we think of the problems arising from the challenges rather than the intimacy we have just quoted from Certeau that would arise from the needs. But perhaps more crucially, Lubac's statements in his book Paradoxes, quoted by Hans Urs von Balhtasar in his Mysterium Paschale[25], challenge the modern myth that Christianity is primarily an "incarnationalism". Lubac puts it this way:


“‘Arian Christianity is perfectly incarnate: there one is Christian by birth from the flesh’; ‘What a fine plan for incarnate Christianity Satan presented to Jesus in the desert! Jesus preferred a crucified Christianity’; ‘The mystery of Christ is also our own. What was achieved in the Head must be achieved in the members. Incarnation, death and resurrection: that is to say, enrooting, detachment and transfiguration. There is no Christian spirituality which does not comprise this threefold rhythm’: ‘Christ did not come to carry out the work of incarnation: the Word became incarnate so as to carry out the work of redemption’.”

Transfiguration[26], after enrooting and detachment, is the third element of the threefold mystery of Christ. By transformative assimilation, then, we should in all likelihood understand not the moulding of tradition towards us or into us, but a common transfiguration in which we participate actively - with effort - and with a kind of dignified confidence, even adding our own style.

The second element of the three-stage process is the cross - for the Head - and the detachment - for the members. I would like to connect to this element what we said above about homelessness.

The taking up of the cross must not be understood simply as a counter-cultural or culture war project, a confrontation with the "world" in the course of which we retreat into tradition. The adaptation of Christianity, writes Lubac[27], "requires of the apostle not only a continual adaptation of, like St Paul who, becoming all things to all men, did not speak before the Areopagus as he spoke to his fellow-countrymen. Much more than a mere outward adaptation is required: a whole inner transformation, a real exodus from the secret places of the soul: "leave your country, your family and your father's house, to go to the place that I shall show you"." It is more than a change of place. It is the homelessness that corresponds to the self-emptying that leads to the cross. It is the fulfilment of the task of detachment that requires an inner work (Lubac says: "dépaysement intime"). Perhaps it is precisely this inner work that the brother has not done on himself (and on the tradition). It is the work whose omission "exposes every Christian to the temptation of becoming an inquisitor, like the one mentioned by Dostoevsky, and eliminating the coming stranger".[28] Therefore, "the inner essence of Christianity is inseparable from the task of transforming man", as Tibor Görföl[29] states in his study on silence and listening, already quoted; "the most obvious silence of Jesus, the silence of the Eucharist, points more clearly than anything else to the inevitability of this great transformation", he adds.

What we have here is an opening to grace, a trust in grace: hope. Referring to St John of the Cross, Rowan Williams[30] says that there must be a point in our prayer life, in our growing up in Christ, where we let go not of memory but of memories. We need to let go of an imagined future based on past experiences of grace, where we long to return to past experiences and repeat them (thoughts of Simone Weil echo here), for this risks turning hope into imagination, thus reducing the scope of faith and hope.

This has very important pedagogical implications. It is important to note at this point that when St Joseph of Calasanz opens his eyes to poor children, he does not simply see needy people to whom society's protective system, the social safety net, must be extended. In other words, he does not see them as a social problem, a problem to be solved, a problem to be eradicated. In recognising them, he understands the Gospel; he sees the little ones who are heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. And in that moment he understands himself, he discovers his vocation. He encounters the renewing gaze of Christ before the children, in whom he recognises the poor of the Gospel. "The option for the poor, writes Pope Francis in Evangelii gaudium[31], is primarily a theological category rather than a cultural, sociological, political or philosophical one" In other words, it is a matter of faith, and so he continues: "This option - as Benedict XVI has taught - "is implicit in our Christian faith in a God who became poor for us, so as to enrich us with his poverty". [165] This is why I want a Church which is poor and for the poor. They have much to teach us. Not only do they share in the sensus fidei, but in their difficulties they know the suffering Christ. We need to let ourselves be evangelized by them." It is not a matter of organising "programmes of promotion and assistance" (EG 199) but of listening: "The worst discrimination which the poor suffer is the lack of spiritual care" (EG 200). Attending to the poor, listening to them, writes Stanley Hauerwas[32], "is an exercise of great discipline, but such listening surely is what is required if charity is not to become a hatred of the poor for being poor".

It was precisely this "spiritual attention" that Calasanz turned toward the children, an attention that does not want to act for the other - this desire is based on the elimination of the other as a stranger - but to be with him, to be in communion with him, and all his further pedagogical action is inspired by this faithful-theological attitude. That is why he wants to be "poor among the poor and a child among children", as it says in the Constitutions of the Piarist Order[33].

The Calasanctian school as a place of encounter[34] is thus a locus theologicus: "I have found the best way to serve God," Calasanz says. It is a place of experience that requires not only pedagogical or methodological innovation, but also the need and possibility for a more fundamental and comprehensive renewal: a transformation that involves ongoing personal conversion of heart, organisational renewal, and the development of the culture or doctrine that is to be "transmitted". This is the link to what Pope Francis, following Vatican II and St Paul VI, calls pastoral and missionary conversion or reform (cf. EG 26, LS 3).[35]



In the letter we have chosen as our motto, Calasanz uses strong words to exhort to humility a brother religious who wishes to return to his Spanish homeland from foreign Naples and has already taken steps to enter another congregation "for an imagined greater tranquillity", as Calacancius puts it. Like the old men in the desert, the Founder wants to bring this brother out of his imagination. Perhaps he is not so much exhorting him to humility as reminding him, by mentioning humility, that the place of self-discovery is not in imagination but in reality: with the poor children with whom, when he lowers himself to give them light, he can be with God.

God, the poor-strange-child, the true self: Can one wish for anything else?


[1] Weil, Simone: “The First Condition for the Work of a Free Person”, in id., Late Philosophical Writings. University of Notre Dame Press, 2016, Chapter 7. (Original : Condition première d’un travail non servile, L'Herne, Paris, 2014, 5.) – Cf. also Heidl, György: Vágyakozni arra, ami a miénk – egy közhely színeváltozása, https://heidlgyorgy.com/2012/11/02/vagyakozni-arra-ami-a-mienk-egy-kozh… (30/09/2022)

[2] Visky, András: „Eddig nem ismertem, de most ismerem”. Interjú Visky Andrással, in Magyar Kultúra magazin 2021/1: https://kultura.hu/eddig-nem-ismertem-de-most-ismerem/ (30/09/2022)

[3] De Certeau, Michel: L’étranger, in Id: L’étranger, ou l’union dans la différence, Desclée De Brouwer, Paris, 1991, 13-18., citations 15 and 17.

[4] Quoted by Görföl, Tibor: A szavak és a hallgatás. A beszéd határai és a csend végtelen terei, [Words and Silence. The Limits of Speech and the Infinite Spaces of Silence] in Pannonhalmi Szemle 27(2019)/1, 14-23, 18.

[5] Ratzinger, Joseph: "Che cosa crede la Chiesa? Una intruduzione al Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica”, in https://www.gliscritti.it/approf/2006/ratzinger/introcatec.htm (23/02/2023).

[6] Ratzinger, op.cit. 5.

[7] Von Balthasar, Hans Urs: "The Three Evangelical Counsels”, in Id: Elucidations. (transl. John Riches) Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1998. – (Von Balthasar, Hans Urs: Die drei evangelischen Räte, in Klarstellungen. Zur Prüfung der Geister, Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau, 1971, 125–134.)

[8] Durwell, François-Xavier: L’eucharistie, sacrement pascal, Cerf, Paris, 1980, 208.

[9] "The faith," says Ratzinger in his article quoted above, "is participation in the vision of Jesus. [...] Because he is both God and man, he is never a person of the past and is never alone in eternity, removed from all time, but always at the centre of time, always alive, always present".

[10] With this word I would like to refer to the way Hartmut Rosa describes the successful connection to the "world". Cf. Rosa, Hartmut: Resonanz. Eine Sociologie der Weltbeziehung, Suhrkamp, Berlin, 2019.

[11] McCabe, Herbert: Law, Love and Language, Continuum, London––New York, 2003 (1968), 141.

[12] Scheuer, Jacques: Culture »en travail«: tentations idolâtriques et réciprocités asymétriques, in Nouvelle Revue Théologique 144 (2022), 471-481., 471.

[13] Ratzinger, Joseph: Der christliche Glaube vor der Herausforderung der Kulturen, in Gordan P. (ed.): Evangelium und Inkulturation (1492-1992). Salzburger Hochschulwochen 1992, Graz-Wien-Köln, 1993, 9-26, 15. – Original (?): Joseph Card. Ratzinger Prefect: Christ, Faith and the Challenge of Cultures. Meeting with the Doctrinal Commissions in Asia (Hong Kong, 3 March 1993) https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/incontri/rc_con_cfaith_19930303_hong-kong-ratzinger_en.html

[14] Esterházy Péter: “A vereség”, in HVG, 2014. december 26., https://hvg.hu/360/20160714_Esterhazy_Peter_A_vereseg (Acceso: 2022. 09. 21.)

[15] This is the "dépaysement" mentioned by Lubac, see note 27.

[16] Cf. Máté-Tóth, András: "Hallgatás-árnyalatok. Szempontok a katolikus egyház nyilvánosságviszonyainak értékeléséhez”, in Pannonhalmi Szemle, 27(2019)/1, 24-36, 34. [Nuances of Silent Listening. Aspects for the evaluation of the public relations of the Catholic Church]

[17] Cfr. Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeta_people (30/09/2022)

[18] Cf. Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribals_in_Kerala (30/09/2022)

[19] Cf. Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mam_people (30/09/2022)

[20] Cf. Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papua_conflict (30/09/2022)

[21] Williams, Rowan: “Monastic Virtues and Ecumenical Hopes”. Address by Archbishop Rowan Williams at Monasticism and Ecumenism: a Conference (11 March 2012). http://rowanwilliams.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/2385/monas… (2022.09.30.)

[22] De Lubac, Henri: Catholicism. A Study of Dogma in Relation to the Corporate Destiny of Manking. Sheed and Ward, New York, 1958, 171 (Catholicisme. Les aspects sociaux du dogme, Cerf, Paris, 1983, 278-279.)

[23] Op. cit. 17.

[24] Mártonffy Marcel, „Az írás mint fellebbezés. Esterházy Péter és a katolikus hagyomány.” Vigilia 81(2016)/11, 827-830, cita: 828. [Writing as an Appeal. Peter Esterházy and the Catholic Tradition]

[25] Balthasar, Hans Urs von: Mysterium Paschale. The Mystery of Easter. (trad. Aidan Nichols, O.P.), Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1990, Ch. 1, footnote. 27.

[26] De Lubac, Henri: Paradoxes. Éditions du Livre Français, Paris, 1959, 76

[27] Catolicismo, 204.

[28] De Certeau, op.cit. 14.

[29] See above note 4, 22.

[30] Williams, Rowan: “In What Do We Trust? Trusting in Faith”, in St Martin-in-the-Fields (YouTube Channel) Oct. 5, 2020, 14:10-16:49 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DflEpuRnoNI&t=1014s (30/09/2022)

[31] Point 198.

[32] Hauerwas, Stanley: How to »Remember the Poor«, in id: The Work of Theology, Wm. B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2015, 208-228, 225.

[33] This is the term that appears in the Spanish version: Curia General de las Escuelas Pías: Constituciones de la Orden de las Escuelas Pías, Madrid, 2004, C19.

[34] The same is emphasised in the document of the Congregation for Catholic Education, The Catholic School, 1977, point 26: “A school is, therefore, a privileged place in which, through a living encounter with a cultural inheritance, integral formation occurs.”)

[35] Vö. Theobald, Christoph: Urgences pastorales. Comprendre, partager, réformer, Bayard, Montrouge, 2017.