Friday 1 August 2014

Egidio Viganò, Interioridad apostolica: Reflections on spiritual superficiality and the grace of unity

José Luis Munoz lent me a little booklet containing the retreat talks given by Egidio Viganò to the rectors of South America years ago, in 1988: Interioridad apostolica: Reflexiones acerca de la Gracia de Unidad como fuente de caridad pastoral (Fortin Mercedes: Ediciones Don Bosco Argentina, 1988).

Already the Introduction grips: The danger of spiritual superficiality. Viganò begins by noting the risk that we all run (this already in 1988) of a love of the ephemeral but also of efficiency, the fascination of modern technology. He speaks of the way our minds are occupied continuously with a thousand things, leaving little space for reflection, and especially for the vision of faith. It is easy for us to somehow consider as not quite real the presence of the Spirit in history, the concrete way in which the Spirit affects history and manifests himself. One thinks and lives as if there were no divine component in human history. [All this sounds all too familiar. All too easy for me, for my brothers, to live as if God did not exist.] Yet, in the light of the incarnation, the paschal mystery, and of pentecost, Viganò goes on, it is superficial and anti-historical to look at the human being from a solely and merely horizontal point of view.  [Was Rossi de Gasperis speaking about much the same thing in this morning's reading? Reflecting on the episode of the Gerasene demoniac, he makes a reflection about Jesus' indictment of pagan horizontalism, a horizontalism that lies in the end under the reign and power of Satan. I was struggling with my post-conciliar upbringing, an upbringing that tends to demythologize all too easily any mention of Satan in the gospels and in the New Testament.... This remains one of the 'points of obscurity' in my reading also of RdG, and so definitely, it now strikes me, a point of great hermeneutical interest, bringing into play not so much the text as the self that is interacting with the text, and possibly inviting this self to undergo an expansion and even perhaps a change radical enough to deserve the name conversion....]

A spirituality of the active life is not easy: it calls for initiation and an adequate ongoing formation. It contains hidden dangers and risks, the most dangerous of these being spiritual superficiality. Allowing ourselves to be carried away by a purely horizontal way of looking at things; immersing ourselves in action for its own sake; becoming agitated with many problems; concentrating exclusively on the organizational, cultural, economic, political aspects; being taken up with merely human affections; searching for rationalizations and distorting the sayings of the saints that find their true meaning only in a life of union with God - all this attacks the very essence and core of 'life in the Spirit.' 

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