Monday, May 28, 2012

Lonergan on Authenticity

For unbloggable reasons I had to drop out of the Ignatian Exercises.  Too bad; I was looking forward to completing that 9 month project and had had some really helpful experiences.

Anyway, this book, The Dynamism of Desire: Bernard Lonergan, S.J. on The Spiritual Experience of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, (James Conner, editor) has me really excited to continue the exercises.  When I wrote my dissertation on Authenticity I didn't know that Lonergan was a source.  Catholic theologians--we never thought to look there! ha!  Should have, because from what I can tell so far, he's amazing.

He says what so many spiritual teachers say:  to find and develop the Authentic Self we need to let go of the false ego (to overcome oneself, to transcend oneself) and open ourselves to what God has created us to be and to become.

Lonergan wrote that we have a inbuilt structure and process by which we move toward authenticity, and this structure/process is profoundly religious...."Development occurs in stages:  we attend to the data of our lives, make sense of it through understanding and judgment, and after deliberation reach decisions and takes action.... based on values--is what I've achieved really worthwhile? These kind of questions can be principles of benevolence, of genuine cooperation, and true love."

All authentic being in love, says Lonergan, is a total self-surrender to the Gift of God's love. But it includes something more, something in itself, something personal, intimate, and profoundly attuned to the deepest yearnings of the human heart.  It constitutes a basic fulfillment of our being.  Earlier, Augustine wrote of the deepest yearnings of the human heart when he exclaimed that 'God has made us for himself and that our hearts are restless till they rest in him.'  Lonergan explains Augustine's restlessness by underscoring that 'there exists in us a capacity for holiness, a capacity for love that, in its immediacy, regards not the ever-passing shape of this world, but the mysterious reality, immanent and transcendent, that we name God."
"But remember that being in love with God is never a state that is fully and finally attained in this life:  'the very being of the human person is not static but dynamic; never a state of achieved perfection; always at best a striving....'Indeed, the basic fulfillment of which he speaks is not "the fulfillment of any appetite or desire or wish, more precisely, it is "the fulfillment of getting beyond one's appetites and desires and wishes and impulses, the fulfillment of self-transcendence, the fulfillment of human authenticity, the fulfillment that overflows into a level of love of one's neighbor as one's self."

More later.


Jan said...

I remember hearing about Lonergan when I was taking classes at Oblate. But I never read any of him. Hope you're okay.

Terri said...

Right! I hope you are okay? I like that Lonergan said we yearn for the Holy and name that Holy "God" (my words). Cool. I've never heard of Lonergan, or at least not in my memory....LOL