This Holy Saturday: Social Distancing, Solitude, Healing

Solitude has the capacity to bring the person to the well, where one can become aware of God’s presence again, but also aware of the ways that presence is blocked and buried.

Detail from "Entombment" (1438-40) by Fra Angelico. [WikiArt.org]

Msgr. Luigi Giussani claims that “the only condition for being truly and faithfully religious…is to live always the real intensely.”i This line stays with me in these solitary days, when “the real” has become surreal.

After limping his way through a vacuous space in gloom of a rainy Roman night, Pope Francis, describes today’s reality in the eerie silence of the Square which usually gathers thousands. On this night, St. Peter’s Square is vacant. Addressing what appears to be nobody, he says:

For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm.ii

The storm overwhelms the whole landscape. Pope Francis adds that the darkness of its clouds:

[Expose] our vulnerability and [uncover] those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities….The tempest lays bare all our prepackaged ideas and forgetfulness of what nourishes our people’s souls; all those attempts that anesthetize us with ways of thinking and acting that supposedly “save” us, but instead prove incapable of putting us in touch with our roots and keeping alive the memory of those who have gone before us.iii

This pandemic is a storm that slinks in and touches the whole of life. Everyone is affected, nobody completely unscathed. Recalling Giussani’s challenge, how is one to live this reality – the reality of pandemic – intensely?

Perhaps we can find a foothold for living our reality intensely by turning to the thought of Joseph Ratzinger. Decades ago, Joseph Ratzinger, reflected upon the same Gospel account – the calming of the storm at sea – and he connects it with the mystery of Holy Saturday. This Gospel scene, he claims, “anticipates the silence of Holy Saturday and which again, therefore, seems to be a profile of the moment in history we are living now. Christ is asleep on a boat which, buffeted by a storm, is about to sink.” He adds, “When the storm passes we will realize just how much this small faith of ours was charged with stupidity. And yet, O Lord, we cannot help shaking you, God, you who persist in keeping your silence, in sleeping, and we cannot help crying to you: Wake up, can’t you see we are sinking? Stir yourself, don’t let the darkness of Holy Saturday last forever.”iv Holy Saturday memorializes Christ’s descent into the solitude of hell, into the realm of the dead. But, what does this mysterious descent mean, exactly? It seems so distant and far-fetched. How can it help us to engage today’s circumstances?

Death, Hell, and Isolation

Following the Judeo-Christian tradition, Ratzinger does not view death in a one-sided manner, as if it were only an experience of bodily corruption that marks the end of one’s physical life. Instead, “death is present as the nothingness of an empty existence which ends up in a mere semblance of living.”v Ratzinger says, “Death is absolute loneliness…the loneliness into which love can no longer advance is — hell.”vi Ratzinger points out that death and hell are identical in the Old Testament. Ratzinger says:

One thing is sure: there will come a night when no word of comfort will penetrate the dark abandon, there will be a door which we must pass though in absolute solitude: the door of death. All this world’s anguish is, in the final analysis, the anguish generated by this solitude. This is why in the Old Testament, the word indicating the kingdom of the dead was identical to the word for hell: shêol. Death, in fact, is absolute solitude. But this solitude which can no longer be illumined by love, which is so profound that love can no longer reach it, is hell.vii

Death and hell are, when it comes down to it, identical.  They describe the state of some sort of impenetrable loneliness, a loneliness that is more than possible on this side of the grave, even if it has not reached its definitive, fixed point.

Perhaps, in some way, this understanding of death and hell as loneliness describes the heart of our present reality. These stormy circumstances allow humanity to realize “that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other.”viii And, the awareness of this need highlights the real tragedy of our situation. Each person needs the other, but the other is a potential threat. Each person needs the other, but one must practice social distancing. ix Each person who is dying from this virus needs the other, but the other cannot come. This is reality now: a social angst marketed by fright, loneliness, isolation, and creeping separateness. Today’s storm is hellish.

One might think social distancing and all of this isolation would be a welcome thing, even a natural one, for an American society notorious for a Lockean “possessive individualism.”x Americans often seem right at home with Boethius’ 6th century definition of person as naturae rationalis individua substantia (the individual substance of a rational nature). Aquinas takes up this description, which has come to dominate Western civilization’s understanding of personhood.xi Nevertheless, the present experience of social distancing seems to awaken within people something deeper, something deeper than individuality and rationality. Something that must lie underneath individualistic renderings of “person” seems to emerge. Experiences of solitary individuality and empirical rationality are reality right now, and they are unnerving. People are not, in fact, “at home” in isolation. Instead, they are restless, aching to break out, longing to be near the other and to comfort the other in close proximity. Isolation is unnatural for persons, and the “problem” of social distancing reveals this.

The inhibition (even prohibition!) of social gathering awakens one’s humanity. Just as God’s providence was at play, even in Jesus’ slumber at sea and silence in the tomb, awakening desire and arousing faith, today, the same is true. In the solitude the Lord is providing as an unintended consequence of social distancing, one becomes profoundly aware of the relationality of his or her personhood and of the fundamental relationship that stands both underneath and over and above all others. Therefore, the experience of relational disintegration, social distancing, and solitude, one becomes profoundly aware of the inherent relationality of the person. In truth, the experience of longing that results from social disintegration touches the truth of the Church’s earliest understanding of “person,” which was an original contribution of the Church Fathers in the history of thought. Joseph Ratzinger presents the historical development of the concept of “person” in his Communio article “Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology.”

On the Notion of Person in Theology
Ratzinger opens his essay by noting that the concept of person, “as well as the idea that stands behind this concept, is a product of Christian theology.”xii More specifically, the original understanding of “person” grew out of theological questions like “What is God?” and “Who is Jesus Christ?” As the Fathers grappled with such questions, they adopted the “philosophical insignificant or entirely unused concept ‘prosopon’ = ‘persona.’”xiii In Greek drama, a prosopon was a literary device, a “role” which brings to life literary events – it was a “mask.” David Bentley Hart describes the word persona for the Romans, saying:

The original and primary meaning of the Latin word “persona” was “mask,” and may well originally have indicated the special distinction of belonging to one of those patrician families entitled to preserve and display wax funerary effigies of their ancestors. To “have a person”—habere personam—was to have a face before the eyes of the law, to possess the rights of a free and propertied citizen, to be entrusted to offer testimony on the strength of one’s own word, to be capable before a magistrate of appeal to higher authority.xiv

The basic concepts behind these words, originally utilized in literary and legal contexts, have to do with dialogical scenarios. As the Fathers reflect upon the puzzling passages of Scripture wherein it appears God is dialoguing with himself (e.g. Gen. 1:26–27; Gen. 3:22; Ps. 110:1) they adopt the word prosopon to describe what is a dialogical reality within God. Here, Ratzinger says the word prosopon reaches a transitional moment where it no longer means “role” but “person.” This comes to bear fully in Tertullian’s formula una substantia-tres personae, one being in three persons. The concept of “person,” therefore, grows from reading Scripture and from the idea of dialogue as “an explanation of the phenomenon of the God who speaks dialogically….the God who is in dialogue.”xv

By the fifth century, theologians will argue that the notion of person in the Trinity is to be understood as relation. The three persons of the Trinity are not separate substances, nor are they different modes of the same substance. Ratzinger says:

They are real existing relations, and nothing besides….In God, person means relation. Relation, being related, is not something superadded to the person, but it is the person itself. In its nature, the person exists only as relation….the person is the deed of generating, of giving itself, of streaming itself forth. The person is identical with this act of self-donation.xvi

In God, in the Trinity, person is pure relativity, of being turned toward the other. The concept of person does not refer to substance, but to relationality. God’s substance is one, and person, as the “pure relativity of being turned toward the other” does not lie on the level of substance, but on the “level of dialogical reality.” Thus, Ratzinger concludes that relation is recognized as a third fundamental category “between substance and accident.”xvii Therefore, in and through Christian faith, theology manifests “the Christian newness of the personalistic idea in all its sharpness and clarity,” for “it was faith that gave birth to this idea of pure act, of pure relativity…it was faith that thereby brought the personal phenomenon into view.”xviii

Ratzinger argues that the early developments in Trinitarian understanding offer profound insight in the area of anthropology as well. For the human being to be made in God’s “image and likeness,” must, in some way mean that the human being is a personal being. In other words, the human being is “not a substance that closes itself in itself, but the phenomenon of complete relativity, which is, of course, realized in its entirety only in the one who is God, but which indicates the direction of all personal being.”xix The human being exists as a personal being, precisely because the human being is a spiritual being. God takes the basic material of earth and forms the human being, but human being only enters into existence after God breathes into the formed earth the breath of life. Now, “the divine reality enters in,” for “in the human being heaven and earth touch one another….the human being is directly related to God.”xx Based upon what has been developed in the area of Trinitarian theology, to be in God’s image, according to Ratzinger, “implies relationality,” setting “the human being in motion toward the totally Other”….“it means the capacity for relationship…the human capacity for God.”xxi To be in God’s image means to be personal, it means the human being has the capacity for a personal relationship with God and to exist as a personal being, as a social being, in relation to others human beings.

In light of the Church’s teaching on person it is easy to see that social distancing, in its limiting or sometimes complete denial of the fundamental experience of human relationality, pushes against the very core of what it means to be a person. To be a person is to be relational.

Sin as Broken Relationality
Ratzinger’s recovery of the original notion of person, one that is grounded in Trinitarian theology, shapes his theological anthropology and, concomitantly his understanding of what sin does to the person. In a rather simple, yet striking, description of what it means to be in the “image and likeness” of the personal God, Ratzinger says, “God is by his very nature entirely being-for (Father), being-from (Son), and being-with (Holy Spirit). Man, for his part, is God’s image precisely insofar as the ‘from,’ ‘with,’ and ‘for’ constitute the fundamental anthropological pattern.”

He adds, however, that when “there is an attempt to free ourselves from this pattern, we are not on our way to divinity, but to dehumanization.”xxii Elsewhere, Ratzinger adds, “To be truly a human being means to be related in love, to be of and for. But sin means the damaging or the destruction of relationality. Sin is a rejection of relationality because it wants to make the human being a god.”xxiii Sin is that attempt to free oneself from the relational pattern of our given anthropology. Personal sin is the rejection of relationality and the choice for autonomy – a counterfeit freedom that aims at self-sufficiency with no reference to God or to any other. Sin is the expression of the autonomous, isolated “I” that is the antithesis of person-as-relation. It is the disruption of the fundamental relationship, a relationship without which “nothing else can be truly in order,”xxiv and ultimately that which leads to a “self-contradictory existence we call hell.”xxv

Interestingly enough, the isolation caused by coronavirus, which does not only impact those who are ill, but everyone through social distancing, seems to bring before our eyes a reminder of what sin does to relationships. Social distancing, in a certain sense, incarnates the relational collapse sin causes. Simply put: sin, in its own unoriginal way, creates relational distance between people. Death is, in fact, the manifestation of an extreme and seemingly insurmountable social distance. The coronavirus, insofar as it is a disease, keeps everyone’s mortality – that ultimate experience of social distance – at the forefront of one’s mind. At the same time, social distancing that comes alongside the virus is a painful reminder of the fragility of all relationality, which is capable of being shattered at any time.

The Solitude of Holy Saturday
With this understanding of person as relation, the damage sin causes relationality, and the hell of isolation that results, we are now poised to engage the profound mystery of Holy Saturday. More specifically, we are in a position to understand why Ratzinger says that in light of Christ’s descent into hell we can confront the solitude of death with “hopeful” certainty. Ratzinger explains that belief in the mystery of Christ’s descent into the land of the dead means “that when the hour of extreme solitude comes we will not be alone.” And, if this is true, then, in light of the existential experiences of hell we undergo today, an experience that is now painfully palpable in social distancing, “we can already, now, presage something of what will happen. And in the throes of our protest against the darkness of the death of God we begin to be grateful for the light that comes to us from this same darkness.”xxvi How can this be? What happens in Christ’s descent? Ratzinger explains the mystery as he says:

[The] confession of Holy Saturday means that Christ passed through the door of solitude, that he descended into the unreachable and insuperable depth of our condition of solitude. This means, however, that also in that extreme night which no word penetrates, when we will all be like children, banished, weeping, there will be a voice that calls to us, a hand that takes our hand and leads us on. Man’s insuperable solitude was overcome from the moment He entered it. Hell was beaten from the moment love entered the region of death and the no man’s land of solitude was inhabited by him….From the moment there is the presence of love in death’s sphere, then life penetrates death.xxvii

Hell is that state of absolute solitude where the “I” has isolated itself in sin, uttering a “no” to relationship and to others. Christ enters into and overcomes this “no” by His definitive “yes,” by His complete gift of Himself for the other – even for the one who rejects Him. Therefore, when Jesus Christ, as the Son who is completely open on both sides (i.e. a “being-from” who is, in the Father, a “being-for”), who holds nothing for himself, so to speak, but is perfect relationality, enters into the “no man’s land” of human solitude, it is solitude no longer. Now, even when one lies down in hell, Christ is there (cf. Ps. 139:8).

Entering into the Solitude of this Holy Saturday
In an address given on Nov. 16, 2019, one which is now perhaps even more relevant given the social distance of our day, Fr. Julián Carrón asks if solitude is the person’s friend or enemy. Here, Carrón describes solitude as an experience of, “finding oneself alone,” which “is a powerful provocation for all of us–it puts our backs to the wall, forcing us to come to terms with ourselves by posing a radical challenge to our reason and freedom.”xxviii

Carrón goes on to identify two different, even opposing types of solitude. On the one hand, there is a “loneliness that isolates us.” He quotes Giussani, who says, “Solitude, in fact, does not signify to be alone, but the absence of meaning.” Carrón notes that “A person does not feel alone because he is alone, but because the meaning that gives perspective and substance to every instant, that binds us to others and to things, is missing.”xxix In other words, even when social distancing is not a factor, when a person is not physically alone or separated or distancing from other human beings, one can feel alone. This happens precisely because of apathy, because the meaningfulness of life has been forgotten, and because of sin. Often this results in self-isolating or drifting away and apart as an isolated “I.”

On the other hand, Carrón identifies another type of solitude, one which is not marked by isolation and loneliness. Carron says, “If we do not stifle the need for meaning that, in any case, always remains inside the human heart, and instead look at it in its entirety, it will lead us to discover deep within ourselves a ‘companionship more original to us than our solitude.’”xxx This is the solitude of Holy Saturday for those who believe in the mystery of Christ’s descent into the realm of the dead. For those who hold onto a sense of meaning and purpose in life, even in the midst of social distancing, and who are willing to enter into the mystery of reality and peer through the ache of human solitude, they will find an original companionship. Giussani holds that before solitude, there is companionship, “which embraces my solitude.” Now solitude is no longer loneliness, “but a crying out to that hidden companionship.”xxxi

Vis-à-vis our present circumstances in the United States, Carrón’s words provoke us to enter deeply into that unavoidable ache, that undeniable desire for human relationship that marks our very personhood, impeded and aggravated as it is by the reality of social distancing, in order to discover in the depths of one’s interior (which he or she is far more aware of, especially if screen time can be limited in some way) the Other. Solitude of this sort returns one to that fundamental relationship restored as it is in Christ’s hellish descent. If one lives the real intensely, and allows the real to lead him or her now, that person will rediscover the fact that he or she, as a person, is a relational being existing in a fundamental relationship with God (see Gen. 2:7-17), not an individual substance locked in, above all, on individualistic pursuits.

In a rather odd way, then, social distancing, and the solitude it imparts by necessity, has the capacity to lead a person to deep healing and wholeness. In short, social distancing provides an opportunity over and above that of preventing the spread of disease. The solitude generated by social distancing has the potency to lead the person to deep, interpersonal healing, because it can lead the person to the depths, and the depths are precisely where fundamental relational problems lie.

Carrón points out that “Etty Hillesum testifies to this in a powerful way in her Diaries: ‘There is a really deep well inside me. And in it dwells God. Sometimes I am there, too. But more often stones and grit block the well, and God is buried beneath. Then He must be dug out again.’”xxxii Solitude has the capacity to bring the person to the well, where one can become aware of God’s presence again, but also aware of the ways that presence is blocked and buried. Solitude can bring the person to the well, but it cannot unbury God. In this way, the second type of solitude is similar to the first, in that the person seemingly finds him or herself alone.

Yet, precisely here, an opportunity arises which blows open the story. This solitude leads the person to become aware of a Presence, who has established as His priority the forgiveness of sins, “the foundation of all true healing.” This solitude leads the person before the One who, if approached with a contrite heart (cf. Ps. 51:17), forgives sins and heals the fundamental relationship – a healing so necessary that without it, “however many good things [one] may find, [one is] not truly healed.”xxxiii Only God can unbury himself from our sin and overcome the prison bars of the self-imposed hell in which we find ourselves.

Solitude, the “space” in which the encounter with God and the restoration of the fundamental relationship, has within it the capacity to overcome relational distance. It presents the person with, as Pope Francis calls it “a time of choosing…a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others.”xxxiv Getting life back on track with God is a necessary step in order for the same to happen in relation to others. On this point, Ratzinger claims, “’communion’ between men and women is only possible when embraced by a third element.” The communion we long for by nature of our personhood, is only possible through something outside of me and of you. The “third element” must be “greater and higher” than both individuals. In short, God is the one “who unites us through Christ in the Holy Spirit so that communion becomes a community, a ‘church.’”xxxv

Therefore, in a mysterious way, as human persons enter ever more profoundly into the solitude imposed by the present circumstances, receiving them as both gift and task, they will be drawn into deeper communion with God and, through Him, they will be drawn together. This mediated movement is not a pious sentiment, or a band-aid for the broken and deprived state of our humanity. Instead, God offers these circumstances for the good of relational healing – healing which can take place on multiple levels. Entering into communion with God and with others, right now, means entering into and passing through the way of solitude. It means, then, standing in front of the ache caused by social distancing – an impersonal practice that contradicts the human being’s personal nature – in order to discover once again and to have restored the original relationship which sets aright all other relationships. In communion with God, all communion is capable of being restored, even when social distancing prohibits its physical manifestation.

The solitude of “the real” awakens and restores personhood, precisely because solitude is always capable of leading one to the depths, to the heart, to that place of encounter (Catechism of the Catholic Church, §2563). Here, one realizes he or she, as a human person, is never truly alone because Christ has broken through the isolation of death. This reality, in fact, could be witnessed at the conclusion of Pope Francis’ extraordinary prayer service on April 27. In a few moments of Eucharistic adoration, Christ entered into the pitch-blackness of our storm. Today, as in that first Holy Saturday, Christ’s light is present in and overcomes the darkness of the day (cf. Jn. 1:5). Those who enter into the mystery of our present circumstances, “the real” of this Holy Saturday, encounter the Light of Easter Sunday.

Endnotes:

i See Luigi Giussani, The Religious Sense, trans. John Zucchi (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1997), 108.

ii Pope Francis, “Extraordinary Moment of Prayer” (Citta del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2020), http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/homilies/2020/documents/papa-francesco_20200327_omelia-epidemia.html.

iii Pope Francis, “Extraordinary Moment of Prayer.”

iv Joseph Ratzinger, “The Anguish of an Absence: Meditation 1,” 30 Days (March 2006). Accessed on April 4, 2020 at http://www.30giorni.it/articoli_id_10282_l3.htm.

v Joseph Ratzinger, Eschatology, trans. Michael Waldstein (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1988), 95.

vi Joseph Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, trans. J.R. Foster (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 301.

vii Ratzinger, “The Anguish of an Absence: Meditation 1.”

viii Pope Francis, “Extraordinary Moment of Prayer.”

ix Tara Parker-Pope defines “social distancing” in a recent New York Times article as “creating physical distance between people who don’t live together. At the community level, it means closing schools and workplaces and canceling events like concerts and sporting events. For individuals, it means keeping six feet of distance between you and others while in public (indoors and outdoors) and avoiding physical contact with people who do not share your home. For children, this means no playdates or group sports — other than with siblings who live together.” See Parker-Pope’s article “What You Can Do About Coronavirus Right Now,” New York Times, Mar. 26, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/world/coronavirus-preparation-preparedness.html. For my part, in this article, I do not intend to make any sort of political statement for or against social distancing in relation to questions pertaining to the common good, etc. I simply intend to engage the phenomenon of social distance as such.

x See Alex Tuckness, “Locke’s Political Philosophy”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2020 Edition), https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2020/entries/locke-political/.

xi Regarding Boethius’ definition, see Joseph Ratzinger, “Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology,” Communio 17 (Fall 1990): 448. Aquinas defines “person” in the same manner in the Summa Theologiae 1.29.3.

xii Ratzinger, “Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology,” 439.

xiii Ratzinger, “Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology,” 439.

xiv David Bentley Hart, “Human Dignity Was a Rarity Before Christianity,” Church Life Journal (2017), accessed March 26, 2020. https://churchlifejournal.nd.edu/articles/human-dignity-was-a-rarity-before-christianity/.

xv Ratzinger, “Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology,” 443.

xvi Ratzinger, “Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology,” 444.

xvii Ratzinger, “Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology,” 444–45.

xviii Ratzinger, “Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology,” 445.

xix Ratzinger, “Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology,” 445.

xx Joseph Ratzinger, “In the Beginning…”, trans. Boniface Ramsey (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), 44–45.

xxi Ratzinger, “In the Beginning…”, 47.

xxii Joseph Ratzinger, “Truth and Freedom,” in Joseph Ratzinger in Communio: Anthropology and Culture, vol. 2, eds. David L. Schindler and Nicholas J. Healy (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2013), 159–60

xxiii Ratzinger, In the Beginning, 72-73. This understanding of person-as-relation lays a foundation for understanding original sin as well. Original sin can only be rightly understood in light of the God-man relationship, that “collapse” of what man is and is meant to be as a person-in-relation. Now there is not a fundamental dependence on the part of creature in relation to the Creator, but a tendency toward autonomy and isolation. Ratzinger identifies this “sin-damaged” world as a network of broken relationships, saying: “Human beings are relational, and they possess their lives – themselves – only by way of relationship. I alone am not myself, but only in and with you am I myself….Sin is loss of relationship, disturbance of relationship, and therefore it is not restricted to the individual. When I destroy a relationship, then this event – sin – touches the other person involved in the relationship. Consequently sin is always an offense that touches others, that alters the world and damages it. To the extent that this is true, when the network of human relationships is damaged from the very beginning, then every human being enters into a world that is marked by relational damage.” Original sin exists on the level of relationship, and signifies the original and fundamental broken relationship between Creator and creature, and the aftermath of the fundamental disunion — a network of broken relationships. Others become the victims of one’s sin, and one becomes the victim of the sins committed by others.

xxiv Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: Infancy Narratives, trans. Philip J. Whitmore (New York: Image, 2012), 43-44.

xxv Ratzinger, “Truth and Freedom,” 160.

xxvi Ratzinger, “The Anguish of an Absence: Meditation 2.”

xxvii Ratzinger, “The Anguish of an Absence: Meditation 2.”

xxviii Julián Carrón, “Faith and Solitude,” in Traces, no. 2 (February 2020), 7. This address was originally given on Nov. 16, 2019 at a conference in Florence for the National Day Against Solitude.

xxix Carrón, “Faith and Solitude,” 9.

xxx Carrón, “Faith and Solitude,” 10.

xxxi Giussani, The Religious Sense, 56. Quoted in Carrón, “Faith and Solitude,” 10.

xxxii See Etty Hillesum, Etty: The Letters and Diary of Etty Hillesum, 1941-1943 (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002), 91. Quoted in Carrón, “Faith and Solitude,” 10. Hillesum was a Jewish woman who died at Auschwitz.

xxxiii Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: Infancy Narratives, 44.

xxxiv Pope Francis, “Extraordinary Moment of Prayer.”

xxxv Joseph Ratzinger, “Communio: A Program,” in Joseph Ratzinger in Communio: Anthropology and Culture, vol. 1, eds. David Schindler and Nicholas Healy (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), 126.


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About Brad Bursa, Ph.D. 2 Articles
Brad Bursa, Ph.D., is the Managing Director of Parish Leadership Formation for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Thomas More University in Crestview Hills, Kentucky. He received his doctorate in Theology from The University of Notre Dame Australia and lives in Cincinnati with his wife and five children.

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