Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Unbelief is a Heavy Burden, Faith Allows Us to Fly

Cardinal Ratzinger addresses atheistic existentialism and nihilism --

The ease of unbelief is relative. It exists in the sense that it is easy to throw off the bonds of faith and to say, I am not going to exert myself; this is burdensome; I'm leaving that aside. This first stage is what you might call the easy part of unbelief. But to live with this is not at all so easy. To live without faith means, then, to find oneself first in some sort of nihilistic state and then, nonetheless, to search for reference points. Living a life of unbelief has its complications. If you examine the philosophy of unbelief in Sartre, Camus, and so forth, you see that readily.

The act of faith, as new start and acceptance, may be complicated, although at the moment when faith really hits me -- "you may rejoice" -- it has in turn its great interim ease. So we mustn't unilaterally emphasize the toil. The ease of unbelief and the difficulty of belief lie on different planes. Unbelief, too, is a heavy burden, and in my opinion even more so than faith is. Faith also makes man light. This can be seen in the Church Fathers, especially in monastic theology. To believe means that we become like angels, they say. We can fly, because we no longer weigh so heavy in our own estimation. To become a believer means to become light, to escape our own gravity, which drags us down, and thus to enter the weightlessness of faith.
--Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Salt of the Earth (1996)

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