My red thread
It may be helpful to take a quick look at my philosophical-theological background to better understand the vastness of the topics treated in my books.
In 1959, when I had already graduated in Canon Law, but I was not a priest yet, I have completed the theological studies of neo-mythology, and I have decided to graduate in communication sciences, with a journalistic approach. me into contact with men’s history, eager to capture the background currents And to understand why although the story was defined as “magistra vitae”, in fact it rarely favored better developments.
I was convinced that a philosophy of history was needed, and I asked for advice to a professor of exquisite philosophical preparation, Jesus Arellano, sometimes coming from Seville to Pamplona. He advised me to read “The City of God”. Sant’Agostino always fascinated me, but his mighty book did not matched with my expectations, it was clearly the theology of history. And I realized that Hegel and Marx also made a secularized theology of history, with immanent messianism. St. Thomas gave me many elements, but the philosophy of history did not fit into his immense studies.
Only Maritain gave me the assurance that I was right looking in the direction of the philosophy of history. I realized that the essentialist philosophy, the entire Western metaphysical tradition, could not hold a true philosophy of history, especially in its need to become a sound ideology, a sound setting of political and social action. And I also knew that fideism does not solve the philosophy of history, but it confuses it with the history of salvation. And I began to see that there are various species of fideism, sometimes more declared, sometimes more suffused, moderate, seemingly respectful of the reason and, in words, also open to metaphysics.
In the meantime, my inner discomfort convinced me that I knew little about the Gospel and all Scripture, but I also knew little about the man and his psychological depths.
Once I became priest, following the suggestion of a priest who taught me a lot, and who was also a psychiatrist, I started studying biblic theology and many other books related to psychology. [Thanks to such readings] I found out something that, in time, turned out to be absolutely relevant: the heart is always moved by a craving need of love, it needs to be recognized by others in a vital bond that feeds the heart of religion, even among atheist and unbelievers.
I found out that everyone is ready to give life for a cause they believe in, even if it is perverted one. People are ready to die for Hitler, for Stalin, for Ben Laden, or to take drugs with friends on Saturday night to not be marginalized. Even the theme of “love forever”, theory through which I support engagements and increasingly precarious families, and which has kept me busy for a long time, can only be based on the “us” of a primary belonging that has among the truths that bear that of the indissoluble marriage. Only loyalty to the “tribe” in which each one moves can sustain a commitment that does not depend solely on individual freedom. The example of the charismatic Catholic reality, flourished in the 20th century, clearly states that a network of families set on a path of holiness today can guarantee loyal and fertile families.
I then understood the genius of St. Augustine and the strength of those words: “amor meus pondus meus, and I feror quocumque feror”, since then, I embraced forever the agostinianism. I began to investigate more and more deeply about the problem of love, not just as a series of personal virtues to others, but as “us”, which gives meaning to life beyond any historical limit.
The long habit of life and debate with Pierpaolo Donati have strengthened the great theme of relationality that opens beyond rationalist modernity. Years of study and spiritual direction, in contact with thousands of people, have allowed me to write the book “Liberare l’Amore” which is about the common idolatry, anxiety in ambush, Christian salvation, which has illuminated many minded readers. Such book is a long, completely original explanation of the “three convictions of the Holy Spirit,” strangely always neglected by theological theorem.
Yet Jesus says that without the Holy Spirit we cannot understand the Gospel and he talks of what the Spirit must convince us about in GV 16, 8, where he also specifies three absolutely necessary words to penetrate the Gospel: sin, justice, judgment. The abyssal depth of the original sin, to be read in the backlight of the great discovery of “justice” and “judgment” in the heart of the absolute need of love. New justice comes with a new creation, as a basis for the Kingdom: the new world created at Pentecost.
And finally, with “judgment” it is possible to discover the primacy of the new commandment. Luther knew a lot about the first two convictions, but he did not seize the third, while the three convictions always come together. But I also understood the limits of the Catholic response of the Council of Trent, which accentuated the institutional and moral aspects of the religion, at the expense of the wholly free action of the Holy Spirit to save and sanctify the believer, with the cooperation of our freedom, but certainly not of our merits.
Original sin assumed much more defined contours, while remaining occult as it was originated in our progenitors. There are several theories about the substance of the original sin. To me, it became increasingly clear that this is an absolute need of love, linked to our nature, even genomics, seeking its source not in God, but in the “essential persons” that form our primary social and religious affiliation. The divine image is handled with the image in front of others, for which everyone is ready for any sacrifice, until death.
In the light of the three persuasions, I could see the “greatest evil”, which can only dwell in the bosom of the Church when the infinite gift of merciful love blurs, which can save the world from all its evils and break down all the walls of Division between the sectarian closures of original sin in the heart of every primary belonging. If the Church as an institution only cares for religion by leaving the living faith, namely, the salvific Gospel in the convents causes the greatest evil in the world.
When mercy is confused with the works of mercy, it ends to cancel the immensity of the gift of divine mercy, and, in so doing, allowing the judgment of the devil entering on our works, followed by power struggles, unmerciful confrontations, discouragement due to our limits, presumption of success, malice, etc. And this also in people who vote to serve the Gospel, which are already very few. If we give more importance to our miseries than to divine mercy the Gospel is cancelled!
But through the problems of love, I started to understand that the philosophy of history must also light up the question of the meaning of life in a primary social group, with a religious soul, not to be entrusted solely to the faith or beliefs of men. And I also understood why history is not a good teacher of life: because everyone’s reasoning begins from his primary group, to guarantee its own image and power, and not, as he believes, from the search for truth.
The history of cultures and peoples does not progress smoothly, nor even moves in repetitions with periodic returns to a circumference, but is rather an arabesque of often unpredictable forms, with constants due to human nature, but with internal dynamics of each primary group, which prevent the creation of universal schemes, if not that everything moves pulled by the need for consensus in primary affiliations.
Big metaphysical problems opened up. With the scholastic philosophy I had studied, I could not support a philosophy of history. Maritain was great in this sense, but it had a limit that had to be overcome: he put the engine of history in morality, while for me it was increasingly clear that the engine of history is the imperious dynamism of the ultimate natural end, the heart of wisdom and religiosity. The immense need for love that moves all hearts and joins them into the most diverse tribes or sects, or religions, or ideologist groups, to the political correctt that hides the need for consensus in a meaningful social network.
But traditional metaphysics could not shed light on the radical problem of love. After having studied Cornelio Fabro, the great discovery was that of the act of being. I realized that the metaphysics of being that I had assimilated into my institutional studies was not enough. It is not enough just the tertium non datur stated by Parmenide, between being and not being, because it is tied only to existence. It goes beyond the existence in its cause. Through the metaphysics of the act of being, rationalism and its formalism are overcome.
I understood that through the metaphysics of the act of being, the philosophy of history can be founded and I can start the extreme game of how to relate grace to nature, between shadows and deceptions scattered deep from sin, rooted in the need for consensus In its existential “tribe”. This necessarily leads to the theme of the ultimate aim, which is certainly in the heart of God the Father, the supernatural, and is necessarily unique.
But it also necessary, and that creates a sharp problem for grace, which is not necessary as nature is, otherwise they would be the same thing. Or nature would be reduced to a pure potential whose act would be grace. Anyway, it would identify the grace, the supernatural, the natural, and this would be unjustified, because the ultimate goal is the most inherent in each entity.
Through the philosophy of history I have been able to study again the holiday: as a concretization of the transcendent as the heart of history where celebrated divine gifts become the heart of human action, work, and freedom. The feast brings the primacy of charity to all works, even those of mercy. The party does not play on acting, on making, but on celebrating the gifts that unite people in deep communion.
I began to understand that the most pernicious source of evil in the world is not due to terrorists or relativists, but to those who claim to be a good Catholic and cannot distinguish charity from charity works. Since there is no charity without works, it is easy to misunderstand and think that if there are works there is charity as well. Nevertheless, as I describe in the book “Saper di amore”, the confusion tween charity and works causes a judgment on works, the real weapon of Devil to separate, to introduce comparisons and power struggles, envy and discouragement in the face of our limits, etc. Only engaged Catholics can corrupt the Gospel (here is the greatest evil!) and this happens because of the confusion between charity and charity works.
I also understood a limit to Cornelio Fabro, who did not accept the transcendental relationship. And I approached the transcendental of donating. I have been chasing him for some time with another name.
Then I took the name of Leonardo Polo, but not the content, because he referred to a transcendental of the human spirit, of knowledge, and not of being. Being is searching for being and attracts being, placing relationality in the very essence of being. Certainly in this helps the light that goes from the Trinity revelation, but it becomes a philosophical goal of absolute necessity.
In spiritual entities, the transcendental of dignity becomes love and precedes every thought. In this sense, love becomes transcendental to every knowledge and every human act. The voluntas nature, which in the end, precedes and conditions the mind and of course the voluntas ut ratio, exercised in our reduced freedom. The continuous phenomenological deepening of consensus in a primary group found a strong metaphysical confirmation, coming to take on a main place also in the philosophy of history.
The act of being relational actualizes the entities and the transcendental relationship that unifies the creation. The person can now be defined as a unique and free identity, in communion with others, according to John Paul II’s studies, but with a stronger metaphysical foundation. Subjects such as psychology, sociology, philosophy can now be related. The act of being relational changes everything and, in so doing, it transcendentally builds love!
In the meantime, the Nouvelle theologie began to establish in two directions: moderate anthropologist and fideist. The theological contribution was fantastic, with a complete re-launch of the Word as foundation of the Christian faith. With the Council, the controversy over the relationship between grace and nature was swept away; but the Christocentric solution adopted, though with various shades, no longer allowed a philosophy of history.
I perfectly agree with the strong Christocentrism, but I think it is necessary to distinguish between Jesus of Nazareth, the true man, and the risen Jesus: a new man. The themes of love, sense, communion, were now solved only in a theological way.
After the problems of fideist anthropocentrism (faith must serve to solve historical problems: theology of liberation, political theology, etc.) in the Catholic field, the most trusted current was the one led by De Lubac. Nowadays the neo-agostinian paradigm of De Lubac dominates unchallenged. After the problems of fideist anthropocentrism (faith must serve to solve historical problems: theology of liberation, political theology, etc.) in the Catholic field, the most trusted current was the one led by De Lubac. Nowadays the neo-agostinian paradigm of De Lubac dominates unchallenged. Without being able to go back, when the rationalist metaphysics, summed up in Suarez, separated two final ends for man, a natural and a supernatural, I could not accept the fideistic scope, however moderate and open to the recognition of a task of reason and of metaphysics, in which nature becomes a potentiality whose act, or perfection, is placed only in grace or faith.
The example of the medieval peasant who is married to the prince and becomes queen gave me the picture of God’s design, including creation and redemption, in a well articulated unity, where human nature, created according to divine image, is not lowered to rank of pure potentiality over the supernatural plan of God.
I had to retrace the thousand meanders of the grace-nature theme, through a special study of the natural desire to see God on which rivers of words had been spent. Meanwhile, the new Augustinian theological paradigm had wiped away all the rest of Maritain’s integral humanism, so weakening even more the action of Christians in public life, culture, school, performances, etc.
We have allowed the family institute to be profoundly and largely corrupted. Today we are somehow intervening on the themes of family and bioethics, but by now the oxen have escaped from our primary enclosure. The real cultural challenge concerns the primary affiliations and we are not doing anything about them. In fact, there are cultural contributions from many Catholics, priests, and also from many lay people, but there is no statute of reason to engage in the same debate as believers and non-believers. In the book “New evangelization and parish communion in parish” I study the immense scope of primary communion for the life of faith, to respect others’ belonging and the new evangelization.
Through the dialogue with Prof. Pierpaolo Donati, I was able to understand the problem of sufficient reflexivity to enter into a new paradigm and, more so, to deepen existential paradigms throughout life. It is easy to think that man is a social animal and that many behaviors depend on the social context, but very few have a degree of reflection able to become aware of a radical consensus in a primary belonging and its conditioning on reason and behavior, present in all men, without exception. No one can reason only with its own mind.
All Catholics know what communion in the Church means, but few of them realize that in the Church there are different ways to belong. Generally, for centuries, lay people have been offered only a socio-sacral membership, leaving charismatic, Pentecostal to religious members. Now the charitable realities arisen in the twentieth century are, in fact a path of holiness, characterized by Christ’s new commandment. In the institutional Church, in general, there is a lack of reflection on the need for a path of holiness to be truly Christians in the beauty of the Gospel, and in the way of favoring a primary choice in those who want to live according to the Gospel. There is then a lack of reflection to carry on a path of holiness without serious risk of stifling communion with the institution.
Certainly, there is no realistic reflection on the necessity of a philosophy of history. It is right outside the paradigm. There is no reflection on the ultimate natural end as the soul of secularism. The Council has fostered the reflection of the layman as a Christian, but it lacks entirely the reflection of the Christian as a layman, as a study in the book that is undergoing Laity and Christianity. It is necessary to review the nature-grace relationship to achieve greater cultural effectiveness. And there are other reflections to be taken into consideration, but in the meantime, it’s good to realize that almost everyone believes they have enough reflection on everything they think, while it is clear that reflection must always grow, starting with mine as far as I am concerned.
To summarize: the great lights of metaphysics of the act of being relational, the ever-greater discovery of the human heart that is always secretly moved by the existential consensus in a primary group that conditionsa beyond all the thinking and the act of all, a reconstituted harmony of the grace-nature relationship, a clear distinction in Christianity between religion and faith, the distinction between charity and works of charity, or of mercy and works of mercy, the almost exclusive study carried out on the “three convictions” of the Holy Spirit. I have seen so many great “unfinished”. These are: classical metaphysics, that of the Oriental Fathers that replaced the ultimate perfection of the act of being with the Holy Spirit, the work of Luther and that of the Council of Trent, that of Maritain, that of Cornelio Fabro, that important of De Lubac and his followers on the great theme of the ultimate aim and, of course, that of all anti-metaphysics.
And also that of Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas, the two great timeless champions, who, even though, do not formulate a philosophy of the history, necessary to found the secularity and ultimate meaning of creation for the sake of humanity. At present, we need to talk about the unclear pastors who propose new evangelization by always talking about communion in Christ, but without knowing how to distinguish a primary communion, so much so that many Christians are considered to keep their hearts in other primary belonging. And also the unfinished Catechism, which does not help to distinguish faith in Christianity from religion, as I explain extensively in the book Saper di Amore.
Of course, someone in the future will discover my unfinished work, and will carry on the adventure of the thought and of the human wealth. Meanwhile we are enlightened by the deepening of the metaphysical foundation through the act of being relational, and the primacy of consensus within a primary group with respect to the use of reason. Only then can we open ourselves to postmodernism without falling into the chaos of relationships of relationships without any foundation. This is the great cultural challenge that awaits us, the great chance of postmodernism to open the sciences of man to love. It is love, in its relational wealth, that dictates law to the heart and the mind, and to the family, the social, the religious and the supernatural relationships, with good peace for all relativists, skeptics or atheists