The Christian attitude is rooted not in a way of life, or in a philosophy, or in an idea, or in psychology, but in a person: Jesus Christ. The Christian identity or anthropology flows out of Him. The greatest statement by the Church about Christian anthropology is found in the Council’s document “Gaudium et Spes” paragraph 22: “Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and his love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear.” The truth about our humanity does not then, lie in our own resourcefulness but in Christ, who is fully human and who makes a gift of himself, his life, to us. My real life then, is not what I make it to be, but is the fact that I exist in relationship with inner life of the Holy Trinity.
The Christian attitude then, flows out of the transformation of my life when I open myself to Christ. Human fullness, human flourishing, takes place exclusively through a relationship of friendship with Jesus Christ; that I allow myself to be transformed by the person who He is.
There is no dualism here; body and spirit are a unity, and what takes place in the Christian life is a passing from a fallen humanity to a redeemed one – my whole person is redeemed by Christ.
Neither is there anything Gnostic here. Indeed, Christianity is radically different from secularism; Christianity is not about seeking of a better way, it is being given a new life!
The radicality of the Christian life is precisely that its possibility and its realisation does not lie within me and my human resourcefulness, but lies in grace – it is the gift of a new life.
The essential element of the Christian life then, is the encounter with the person of Jesus Christ. Out of this encounter, uniquely, flows the possibility of the fullness of human life.
Take away Christ, which secular culture endeavours to do, and all that you are left with is frail and vulnerable humanity, subjected to its own pride. And when the Christian life is viewed through the lens of the secular ascetic it can indeed seem pointless; why should we not make the best we can out of such a state of affairs. The secular ascetic is precisely the failure to acknowledge Christ, whose riches are transformative of humanity, and whose fullness, peace and joy are not man-made. Undoing the secular mind, especially when it has entered into Christians, is the great work of the Holy Spirit; a shining of true light on that false light within. This work is the interior work of the New Evangelisation – the rebuilding of Christian personality, so that the Christian attitude can be formed anew.