Personal Thoughts on Thomas More College’s Response to the Harvard Black ‘mass’. And how it relates to prayer in the home and the family.
We often hear that there is an over-emphasis on individualism in the West today. I many respects I agree with this. The Christian worldview sees man essentially as a person. A person, as distinct from an individual. A human person is always in relation with others, starting from birth. No one, by choice, disengages from society altogether (not even a hermit) and is happy. The relationships that exist between people are real entities that ensure that two people working together create a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. The seemingly incongruous mathematics of this, one plus one equals three (two people and the relationship between them) reveals the principle of superabundance in which something is created out of nothing and is always invoked when love exists between two people.
From these differing anthropologies – emphasizing either the personal or individual – two differing views of what society is emerge. On the one hand the Christian worldview sees society more as the aggregate effect of the network of the personal interactions that exist between people; the other sees society as simply the vector sum of all individual actions. This is important, how you view this can govern your idea of good economics and good politics, for example.
This attitude of individualism can creep into and affect all institutions and communities in the modern world, including the Church. It seems to me that even some genuinely pious and traditional Catholics seem to view the Church as a provider of services (sacraments) which are provided to them as consumers, so that they can do the things that set them right in God’s eyes then go to heaven.
Where this attitude pervades there is a diminished understanding of the importance of the ideas of the service to God and others. In the practice of religion, the thought driven by individual is characterized by the phrase, what’s in it for me? Now, I should say that I wouldn’t do anything the Church asked me if I didn’t think that I would get something good out of it. I am like all people and do what I believe will make me happy. But in this context, I believe, the rewards are indirect. The maxim I try to keep in (Read More)