(from the Blog of the Alphonsian Academy)
Our interest, for now, is to continue to want to focus on theological work from the depths of aesthetics as the source of ethics. And to this end, continue to bet on the addition of an important theological place, such as art and in this case literary art. Writers and poets have been able to keep this existential flame burning when other disciplines, in their search for the fundamental, forget the same foundation. We refer to the fact of being able to grasp love not only as second nature, or as a reality that, although important, is relegated to the world of “passions”, of “emotions”, which in turn are unfortunately relegated to less fundamental realities of the human being. On the other hand, synthetically, it could be said that since “we love, therefore we exist”, or rather, we are the existence of love, we are the love that exists, that is realized in and through history, that seeks authenticity through love stories.
Facing one’s existence in love and from love remains a great challenge. Yet, for Christians, “God” is “love”, there is no better definition, as profoundly metaphysical as it is existential. And if we are his work, designed in his “image and likeness”, it would seem simple: we are loved, because only in love do we realize ourselves, and only in love we are and will be credible as authentic human beings. So, our attitudes, lifestyles, and behaviours should be shaped in love and by love. We should be able to project an ordo amoris, as the fundamental structure and the most radical and exemplary system of our existences. So, we should develop a morality of lovers of life and the entire ecosystem.
Following this inspiration, we propose as a theological place some brushstrokes that come from the life and contribution of the great poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), and in this case how not to mention his work: Letters to a young poet (1929: Briefe an einen jungen Dichter), a text full of sensitivity and wisdom. Love – like life – is simple, because this is its fundamental datum, but unfolding life by unfolding what is and can be, that is, love, is something more complicated, but not impossible, it is an art, it is a task, it is a constant creation. Because to be human is to be each oneself, but in deep relationship with others, and this is possible through the art of loving and the art of letting oneself be carried deeply by the logic of this love, one could say. It is an apprenticeship, as demanding as life itself.
We conclude by letting the poet speak:
Loving is also good because love is a difficult thing. The love of one human being for another: this is perhaps the most difficult thing that has ever been entrusted to us. The last, the supreme test, the final task, before which all other tasks are nothing but preparation. That is why young people, who are beginners in everything, do not yet know how to love and cannot yet love. They have to learn it. With all their being, with all their strength gathered around their lonely and anxious heart, beating wildly, they must learn to love. But every learning is always a long period of retreat and closure. Thus, love is for a long time and far in life, loneliness, ever deeper isolation for the one who loves. Loving is not, in the beginning, something that can mean absorbing oneself into another being, nor giving oneself and joining it. Because what would be a union between unfinished beings, devoid of light and freedom? To love is rather an opportunity, a sublime motive, offered to each individual to mature and become something in himself; to become a world, a whole world, for the love of the other. It is a great request, a challenge, an ambitious request, which is presented to him and requested; something that chooses him and calls him to accomplish a vast and transcendental task. It is only in this sense, that is, taking as a duty and a task that of forging themselves by “listening and humming day and night”, that young people should make use of the love that is given to them. Neither mutual absorption, nor self-giving, nor any other form of union, are things made for them, which they must assume and preserve for a long time to come. For everyone, this is the ultimate goal. The last thing you can get. It is perhaps the one for which, for the moment, the life of human beings is barely sufficient (VII, Rome, 14 May 1904).
Fr. Antonio Gerardo Fidalgo, CSsR