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The Et-Et of Reality: Weekly Message for 10-10-2023
Dear Friends in Christ,
As human beings, we seem to prefer dichotomies. Either-Or is a simpler frame of reference. It has its place, of course; but the deepest truths of our Faith – which are, in the end, reality’s deepest truths – abide not in antagonism, but in relationship.
Think, for example of the Blessed Trinity: One God, Three Persons. Or consider Our Lord Jesus Christ: One Person in Two Natures. Or the Blessed Virgin Mary: both Virgin and Mother. Or the Church: Holy and comprised of sinners. In Catholic thought this is what we might call the Et-Et principle. Rather than Aut-Aut (Latin for Either/Or), our relationship with reality requires us to hold multiple truths together. In other words, Et-Et (Latin for Both-And).
With that backdrop, consider St. John Paul II’s homily at the canonization of Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross). 25 years ago this October 11, he reminded us: “St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was able to understand that the love of Christ and human freedom are intertwined, because love and truth have an intrinsic relationship. The quest for truth and its expression in love did not seem at odds to her; on the contrary she realized that they call for one another.”
St. John Paul II continued: “In our time, truth is often mistaken for the opinion of the majority. In addition, there is a widespread belief that one should use the truth even against love or vice versa. But truth and love need each other.”
He concluded with this observation: “St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross says to us all: Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie.”
This is the Both-And principle. This is our calling as followers of Jesus Christ. Through the intercession of Our Lady, to whom this month of the Rosary is particularly dedicated, may we embody both love and truth in all we say and do.
God bless you,
Fr. John Pietropaoli, LC
Two Priests and a Mic podcaster