Monday, 17 October 2011

Memory and Identity: the concept of "patria", native land.

Having reflected upon human freedom, the Pope now begins to unwrap the bases of human society. All people, he says, have a sense that they belong to a particular place or territory and have inherited their lives and their culture from their forebears. This inheritance is the totality of goods bequeathed to us by our forefathers and including their spiritual content. Thus, the concept of "patria", native land, implies a deep bond between the spiritual and the material, between culture and territory.

Humanity has been given another patrimony. Christ presents himself to humanity with a new patrimony - that of the Father - our eternal homeland. The culture of the Holy Trinity is the culture which Christ has lived from eternity; it is a culture which he shares with us in the Incarnation. And at his Ascension, Christ explicitly gives us this new homeland.

Thus, the inheritance which we receive from Christ orients our earthly patrimony towards heaven. Christ, by confirming the eternal laws of God, and by initiating a new culture, "cultivates" the world anew, and Christian culture in each sucessive age continues to be transformative of the culture of the world.

Now the heritage of the Father which Christ gives us passes through Our Lady's heart also, since she received him in her womb, gave birth to him, and upon whom He depended. Thus, Christ's patrimony was enriched by what Our Lady gave to it. Looking at this same mystery in a much wider context, we speak of the Church as the meeting of Christ with innumerable human hearts. In the Mystery of the Church we find the whole patrimony of Christianity; and so we speak of the Church as our Mother, guarding and nurturing this patrimony for us.

(The above photo was taken in Huddersfield in 2007 as I placed the Sacred Host into the monstrance.)

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