Ratzinger’s presentation focuses mainly on Mary’s “yes” to the Incarnation, consider the active role of the Trinity (and each of the Divine Persons) while you are reading the document.  Discuss the “movements”, the activities of the Trinity as you notice them throughout this article.  There are many enunciated by the author…be sure to reflect on at least one movement of each of the Divine Persons.

The first apparent activity of the Trinity is the birth of the Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit allows Jesus to be born through the Virgin Mary.  This comes at the disposal of the Father’s will, and the body of the Son serves as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.  Already, all three divine members of the Trinity have taken some form of action.  The kingdom of Jesus, the Son, is the kingdom of God.  We see that God had asked Mary to consent to this action through the voice and appearance of an angel.  In agreeing, Mary is free from original sin and gives birth to the Son.  The Son is God embodied as a human.

Kreeft outlines several differences—without passing any judgment—between Christianity and other faith traditions. How have these distinctions positively affected your thoughts/opinions of other faith traditions?

The first big difference is the idea of Jesus being God incarnate.  This makes it easier for me to have faith because although I haven’t seen him, someone has (or at least they’ve written that they have).  Whereas Buddha said, “Look not to me, look to my dharma”, Christ says, “Come to me…I am the light of the world.”  I feel that it’s easier to believe in Christianity because you need only to follow the example of Jesus.

Kreeft’s enumerates 5-10 distinctive qualities & works of Jesus Christ.

1) Human – Christ is God incarnate.

2) Loving – Christ gave his life in order to allow us to live forever (in Heaven).

3) Incomprehensible – The idea of the trinity is difficult to understand.  How can God be three different people? It would make more sense to me if only the father of Jesus was God, and not both of them.

4) Immaculate Conception – How can the savior of mankind be born from a woman who has never had sex?  This story absolutely needs to be presented because it makes Christ seem that more amazing.

5) Forgiving – God always forgives us of our sins if we are truly sorry.

John Paul II, in Redemptor Hominis (RH), clearly asks all people to direct themselves “towards Christ our Redeemer”. In fact, John Paul II asserts that this is the only way can be fully alive. How is it that a Siena College student might go about doing just this?

The best way for anyone to direct themselves towards Christ our Redeemer would be to attend mass, and attempt to learn and follow the path of Jesus.  At every mass, we learn things that Jesus has done, and we learn how he acted in those situations.  Our best bet is to attempt to do what he would have done in any given circumstance.  The easiest way to do this is to follow our consciences, which are built in moral compasses given by God.

RH, paragraphs 23 and 24 give great attention to the Divine Trinity.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, serves as our connection to God.  God chose to create man in his image and give them a world of riches (life and the gift of choice on a vast planet).  Christ was without sin, but mankind was not able to follow in his footsteps.  Christ died on the cross in order to give mankind eternal life.  This demonstrates God’s love for his creation (mankind).  Jesus Christ is now associated with love and mercy.

In RH, there is considerable thought given to the fears of modern humanity. What do you find those fears are (according to RH)? Are they justified in your mind?  Why…or why not?  In your opinion, do the responses proposed answer the fears?

The fears described in these paragraphs refer to the things man has created and the problems we bring upon ourselves.  These fears are justified because man tends to focus on immediate consumption and the here-and-now rather than the future, and we have seen the effects some our actions have had or could potentially have.  The fear of the unknown is probably one of the largest fears mankind faces everyday; this fear is completely normal and also justified because uncertainty causes fear.  I feel that the responses to these questions tell what mankind does wrong.  Therefore, the general solutions to the problems are implied.

RH, paragraphs 59 and following, speak of politics and human rights. Is John Paul II proposing that the Church is co-responsible in these arenas? If so, why?  If not, why not?

John Paul II states that the church’s mission is at the very basis of social and international peace.  He believes that the Church is responsible for ensuring that it promotes peace and emphasizes human rights.  According to RH, peace comes from respect for man’s inalienable rights.  The Church also has a duty to educate people on these topics and promote the common good, which at times can be very difficult.

From our reading of Dolan what are your personal reflections on it and from it?

When people who at one point had everything and lose it all, I am amazed at their reactions.  The story of Michael Esswein is quite moving.  He was described as holy, intelligent, handsome, outgoing, considerate, respected by his peers, and a good soccer player.  What more could you possibly ask for?  When I read that he became paralyzed from the head down, the first thought that popped into my head was that God must have other plans for him.  It’s truly remarkable that he could maintain his faith and steadfast hope in the most extreme circumstances.  I am a pessimist.  I am working on being more optimistic, but in all honesty, if this had happened to me, my reaction would have been drastically different from his.  I would not have been able to maintain any kind of faith.  Michael’s story makes me appreciate my life and respect him that much more.

Incarnation & the Holy Spirit