Rorate Caeli

Cardinal Giacomo Biffi: The Foundations of Existence

August 30, 2016

“We have no need of announcers of the word who want to change the Gospel with the excuse of adapting it to our times, but of announcers who endeavour each day, even with little results, to change themselves everyday ever more conformed to the Gospel which does not change”.

“In the plan predisposed by God for the salvation of men, there are three pillars which sustain the entire edifice of our existence. If they give way, the collapse of all values is inevitable. They are also the truths we are bound to accept if we want to call ourselves Christians.

"These truths are: God, our Father and Friend; Jesus Christ, the Envoy and Son of God: the Church, as a redeemed people and a community of those who are awaiting the Kingdom of God.  These three truths are so linked to each other that if one is lost, sooner or later the others will be lost too.  The history of the last few centuries has demonstrated this. 

"Four centuries ago for the first time in Europe, the idea of the Church was questioned, even if a deep faith in Christ, God and Saviour was maintained. Nonetheless after some centuries, where the idea of the Church was lost, it resulted in the uncrowning of the Divinity of Christ, by considering Him a mere man, even if a great one, a genius. Further, it became commonplace to think of Him as the ‘first socialist’, a freedom fighter for the oppressed and a preacher of earthly justice. Fascinating idiocies: if Jesus Christ were not truly the Son of God, He would have simply been a fanatic and a failure of a man. When faith in Christ was corroded, also the idea of God, which seemed very vivid, bit by bit began to fade. And so for the first time in history, mass atheism made its appearance.

“It seemed in the beginning that even without the idea of God the human ideals of justice and morality could have been maintained.  Someone more intelligent saw instead where things were heading: ‘If God doesn’t exist, everything is permissible’ says one of Dostoyevsky’s characters, and even murder ends up being justified. Today we are being convinced of this at our own expense. This presumptuous society, which has demolished its foundations, is no longer able to stand on its own feet: nothing seems to be important, no value seems to be sustained. We are faced with a world of no sense, which is heading inexorably towards desperation.

"Naturally we are not going toward desperation, since we have been given great hope and each paschal celebration offers us once again motive [for this hope] by restoring freshness and vitality to us; as long as we remain fully aware of the three pillars and of their necessary connection: it is impossible to save a human existence worthy of this name without faith in God; it is impossible to believe in God Who is Father to us and will not abandon us, without contemplating Jesus Crucified and Risen, where the love of God is revealed; it is impossible to know Who Jesus really is, if one does not remain in the Church, the ‘foundational column of Truth’ and the ‘Bride without spot or wrinkle’, as St. Paul says. We cannot play around with the foundations of our existence: who is going to pull us out of the rubble and ruins of our pretentious castles?” 

Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana