Don C. M. Berardi
Introduction: «We want to see…»
The analysis of the different doctrines, which in recent centuries have dealt with sight and its functioning, provides a clear, bright, picture of what is meant by the term «see» and what this bodily function brings to man, for better or evil, in his being “a whole”. The theme is developed with an interdisciplinary approach, from science to philosophy, from neuroscience to theology and from aesthetics to spirituality. To fully understand all the concerned processes, from the optical mechanisms to the aesthetic «feeling», also means to have a more conscious approach to the objects of sight, the ones we «see» (creation and the next), and the One «we want to see» (God).
Prof. S. M. Perrella
The «Blessed» and the «blasted»: Maryphanies and satanophanies
This in-depth study focuses on the presence and mediation of the Mother of Christ, placing them in the context of God’s self-revelation, which allows us to grasp the appearances in their mystical dimension and in their character of experiences that help us to live more fully the essentials of faith at a given period. The concepts of blessing and curse, within the broader context of the Alliance, help to enlighten the mystery of the Mother of the Lord, of her person and mission in the life of both the Church and the world and become. These concepts also offer an interpretative key of Christian existence, as a believing answer to God’s self-revelation that implies the transition from curse to blessing and the «solidarity with the cursed ones» inherent in the mystery of Christ’s cross. The discernment of the apparitions progresses through a triple reserve (administrative, scientific and ecclesial). These steps ensure the link between apparitions and revelation, so as their being charismatic events, i.e. divine gifts that can be used to support the faith, hope and charity of each believer. The Maryphanies have their theological basis is in the dogma of the Assumption; opposite to them are the devil’s manifestation: the satanophanies. The satanophanies, which may be also sensible, are intended to misguide the theological path of believers, but are allowed by God to reinforce the virtues and reveal the inconsistency of evil designs. The Virgin Mary exercises her motherhood to the Church also through the fight against evil, i.e assisting mankind to choose, with the help of Divine Grace, the way of blessing and discarding the path of sin that lead to the curse.
Don D. Repice
«The Holy Saturday icon»: the re-discovering of the Christ icon in Occident and the face of the man of the Shroud
The importance of the sight in liturgy and prayer is the foundation of Christian iconography and its dissemination. The sacred image – the cross first, then the icon – is offered as a window, as opening and passage, as door opened towards the invisible, a threshold that allows the human spirit to enter dialoging with the Spirit of Him who is shown in the image itself. The rediscovering of the icon in the last century has led to feel the need for unity in the Church and to reflecting on how the Tradition can dialogue effectively with modernity and contemporary, without distorting the liturgical art. The Shroud, «achiropita icon» of Holy Saturday, shows the mystery of the concealment, the silence, the «emptying» of God, but at the same time challenges and questions with its «statements» and with its allusions, allows us to filter a light, which, in a technological society as the one we live in, shows both to believers and non-believers, the clues of a Presence and invites us to celebrate Easter, the transition to the life of communion with Christ.
Prof. R. Lavatori
Idolatry: the false vision of God
The analysis of chapters. 13:14 Wisdom, is discussed not from the strict point of view of exegesis, but rather considering the theological and anthropological content expressed therein. In this way it’s possible to find out the reason for the birth and spread of idolatry through the human vain reasoning and foolishness in mistaking cosmos elements, astral and animal, for divinity, so pitting the concept of God into the sensible sphere of the earthly view of things. This leads to twisting the ordered composition of created reality and thus to spreading in every sense the evil, the wickedness and the moral and social disorder on earth. So it’s possible to say that if idolatry, that is constantly and currently revived in many ways, is not eradicated, the project of a more orderly world and a healthier humanity is but an utopia. Rejecting the true vision of the creative and redemptive wisdom, it’s easy to remain entangled in an obscurantism that does not produce anything good or beautiful.
Shows and paganism
According to all the Fathers of the Church, the pagan gods are demons and the idols are images consecrated to them with the aim of disseminating their work. Currently, paganism is considered unfounded, but the idea that the pagans first and the Christians later, had of the phenomenon clearly shows its spiritistic nature: a relationship with spiritual beings endowed with personal nature, invisibles, able to act on things and people, that were evoked in specific rites and for certain purposes. Once placed in front of the Incarnate Truth they were forced to reveal their nature, their work, their goals and their endless misery. Not gods, but demons. Their sordid desire to attempt ousting their own Creator, doesn’t change over time. They try to steal the honours and worship only due to the one true God, acting to induce men to attribute those honours to the receptacles that the demons themselves infest. The feasts, the rites, the performances and the victims were all part of this idolatry, and in their peculiar way they taught men to dissipate time, worship, intellect – and life itself – so that they were never addressed to the Saviour. The connection between spectacles and paganism shifts the focus on a current theme, the connection between shows and demons. The demons are hidden behind the mask of the fake one god, the antichrist, that – among hellish symbols, satanic rituals and blasphemous contents – is evoked through the media today. The aim is the same as always: to divide man from the True and One God, Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, to only whom the true worship of adoration is due.
Dr. L. Marletta
Imagination pathologies in a fast society
The scenario is characterized by the acceleration of changes, mainly due to communication technologies: computers, cell phones, Internet, mass and social media. The social effects are: increasing levels of uncertainty and a «consumerism» culture affecting not only material goods, but also the intangibles ones such as ideas and values. Advertising exerts a seduction effect, by conferring the credibility surplus attributed to the view. The new importance indicators are now audience, views, friends: no more heroes, but being famous-renowned. The spiritual effects are: difficulty in finding quietness to deeply hear oneself, others and the will of God, the decreased perception of evil-sin with the search of an external enemy and irresponsibility, the reinforcement of certain vices like vainglory-cenodoxy-, avarice-philargyria, lust and pornography. The considerations of the Fathers of the early Church both document and provide illuminated advances on actual times.
Prof. R. Fornara
Moses in front of the burning bush; the vision of God in the Old Testament
The exegetical analysis of Es 3,1-6, that narrates the appearance of God to Moses in the burning bush, focuses on the phenomenology of vision in both the theological and on the anthropological meaning. On the one hand there is the path of man towards God: the desire to see him, to know him, a desire which drives the man to go beyond the facade of reality perceived by senses, and to question on the reason of phenomena, with a contemplative gaze.
On the other hand, there is the divine initiative, the manifestation of God, calls for a dialogue, for an answer to listening. Man discovers his own misery, but also the transcendence of God and his infinite love that sustains and embraces him, that invites him to free himself from idols and to serve Him with a pure heart, and that sanctifies him with his presence.
Prof. F. Pieri
Light and darkness in the Gospel of St John
After a brief introduction on the theme of light in the Bible, Professor Pieri presents the different meanings of the symbolism of light applied by St John in the fourth Gospel. The Light of the World is Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, who by his preaching and his life teaching, enlightened men, revealing to everyone the mystery the love of God. The darkness of the world, which is under the control of the evil, one opposes to the «light of life». The man willing to stay in the light has the responsibility of believing in Christ as the Messiah and to choose to follow him, to participate with him to eternal life. The Christian knows and contemplates the complete and final victory of Christ over darkness, although in this world he must fight the indifference, the irony, the presumption. Still, he «knows that his faith is the way to heaven; it is the necessary answer to the gift»; his testimony can, in turn, become a light to the world.
Don E. M. Palma
«I saw on the road a light from the sky» (At 26,13). The Christian experience of Paul arises from the vision
The experience of the risen Christ that Saul (Paul) had on the road to Damascus is described and interpreted in its «being real», through the critical analysis of the stories contained in the narrative of Acts (9,1-19a; 22 , 3-21; 26.4 to 23). The clues to the reliability of the vision of Saul, according to biblical criteria, are: the theophany jointed to the entrusting of a mission; the difference between the experience of the primary recipient of divine revelation and the one of his comrades; the physical effects suffered by Saul on account of that vision (sudden blindness). The decisive point about the authenticity of the experience comes from the expressions showing all the internal drama experienced by Saul and his resistance to God’s voice. The radical change of life he accomplished is not the result of personal reflections or of a crisis of conscience, but is founded on external reasons: he «saw» the Risen Lord and, despite his will, it has been induced by Him to totally put himself at His service.
Don R. Petroni
We have seen the Lord
Visions are an ancient phenomenon that continues unaltered and uninterrupted in Church history. From the Apostles to the modern mystics those who have been benefited from it are numberless and this makes it possible to highlight some guidelines for the phenomenon. The Church wisely provides, through its official teaching authority, the criteria of discernment, which allow a better grasp on this «seeing» (ways, forms, purposes). To distinguish the apparitions and visions from hallucinations and false mystical experiences, and to understand again the necessary relationship that man has to have with the Risen Lord, renders it possible, even today, to exclaim again: «We saw it», and conform ourselves more fully to the revelation of God that involves our life in the mission to be a witness to faith.
Don A. Ferrero
To see the unvisible. The vision of God: the body, the psych, the spirit
The theme of the vision is addressed in relation to the person and to his «world» made of relationships, not only intra-psychic, but also between the outside world (society / ethos / culture) and the spiritual one: an objective reality, independent of one’s own will and imagination. The difference between hallucinations and apparitions is that the former are dysfunctions of the ordinary perception process, while the latter are correct perceptions related to the spiritual world, that occur supernaturally. The most perfect vision of God that a man can have in this life is the result of a mystical gift that is called contemplation. It does not consist in a bodily vision, or in a distinct knowledge, but in an «instillation» of knowledge and love in the substance of soul by God, who, on the one hand «blinds» and weakens the soul in its natural faculties, and on the other hand is a source of joy, peace and strength for the spirit.
Prof.ssa C. Demezzi
From the darkness to the light: to see in the obscurity
Some mystics testify that particularly in times of greatest spiritual and physical darkness it is possible to be able to see things previously unknown even to exist. Christ is the one who can make us fully live this experience. For He Himself has made the first experience of living in darkness, through His death and resurrection. After reflecting on the worth of the body, which sees through his eyes and on its relationship with the soul, this text deals with the experience of St. John of the Cross, mystic and writer, master of the spiritual sense of the Dark Night. Then, it passes on to talk over St. Edith Stein and her study of the Spanish mystic, to conclude, lastly, to the Blessed, next Saint, Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Her experience of the spiritual darkness and remoteness of God will help us to understand the supernatural sense that some of the Night experience can reveal.
Image and communication
Starting from more than twenty years of experience as a film director, Paolo Damosso reflects on the need and opportunity for the Church to communicate the Gospel in today’s media. He likens the media environment to an aquarium: a circumscribed container with rules and its own and well defined grammar. As the magisterial documents emphasize, the media are neither good nor bad in themselves; they are qualified by the content they convey. However, the way to communicate is important too: the «language of wisdom», the adaptation to the recipient’s reception capability and a proven professionalism are all necessary. The protagonism may be a temptation, as it induces a documentation of one’s actions just for the sake of being remembered or seen by many. For better or for worse, there may be a spectacular use of the images that is intended to cause panic and either provoke hatred or arouse tenderness and inspire hope. However, the wisely used media can also serve to reflect in a simple way, on the «most authentic and true values, the same as always, the ones who never die, those who will never killed».
Prof. F. Scelzo
A diverse way to see: the inability to see versus the ability to reciprocate and be autonomous of the «auto-exusios» man
The disabled person is in between the constraint and the possibility, the dependence and the wish for independence, between the difference and the risk of indifference. But this is also the condition of every man, which must be able to recognize both his own limitations and his potential. To responsibly accept the visual impairment means to acquire the awareness that it’s a condition of the body that doesn’t bias the dignity of human beings, created in the image of God to respond to the plan which they’re expected to perform «despite» their disability. «Seeing differently» is not a provocation or a sham if it does not mask the falsification that often lurks in defining «differently able» as a person with a disability. Rather, this definition expresses the aim for a common path in reciprocity, in the differences, in the autonomy of the individuals. This is a process in which the community does not close itself in front of the fear of strangers, or of diverse views, but is available to build reciprocal relationships among people who retain their uniqueness by virtue of their autonomy; a journey in which the community is the place of the «symphony of differences».