Pope Benedict and the Logic of Gratuity

Here’s a nice little discussion of Pope  Benedict’s thinking from Fr. Barron:

This touches, in an interesting way, on the discussions last week concerning libertarianism, as we well as on the two camps of Moral Theology, which tend to ask “What’s the least I have to do to make the cut?” vs. “How can I love to maximum?”

I think I fall, as a matter of practical life, very firmly in the first camp (having only recently figured out that those two camps exist. I… don’t want to be bothered. I have enough on my plate. And so I tend to think in terms of contract, of what is owed. But it seems to me that Fr. Barron is simply right when he points out what Benedict is saying: that our lives are far more than merely what is owed, what is contractual, what is atomized individuals playing off each other in exploitation and competition and the world of “rights” (a concept entirely foreign to relationships of love). After all, when lovers contact their lawyers and start talking about rights at each other, it’s time to perform the autopsy on their love.

Anyway. Interesting stuff.

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  • KM

    Love this because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about justice and injustice in our society. Father Barron discusses how the “logic of gratuity” is God’s way which goes beyond the human (political) “logic of obligation” or the (contractual) “logic of exchange.” A logic of gratuity is what Christians need to aspire to and follow.

    Father Barron says, “A logic of gratuity…goes beyond mere justice…Justice needs to be leavened by something higher which is this logic of love.” He gives some very good historical examples, one which includes how the allies wanted to punish Germany after WWII. But instead of retribution, Harry Truman and George Marshall came up with the Marshall Plan.

    Thank you, Mark, for bringing these topics to your readers.

  • anna lisa

    So beautiful.
    This helps me keep my chin up, keep folding clothing, keep serving up those made to order tacos and keep driving those couple of miles to school while my hormonally insane teenager glowers at me from the back seat, (and who thinks I’m a jerk for making him get out of bed at seven or stop playing video games or texting girls until the wee hours).
    It seems that he just got passed the baton from his brother who has finally begun to say “thank you” again…

    where you are guaranteed to be vomited, peed, and pooped upon, and then get the verbal equivalent of this when their reason and hormones collide.

    Okay God, I get the picture– I was once a thankless little varmint too. I probably still am–and you *still* love me.

    Sometimes love means not being noticed for what you do, –which is a big upgrade from a big kick in the pants.

  • sez

    “rights” (a concept entirely foreign to relationships of love)
    Thank you, Mark – something so very worth, not only thinking about, but spreading. As far and wide as possible.

  • Mariana Baca

    A great way of expressing things. As with all things, Catholics should aspire to the “Third way”.

    I think this is where people get mixed up, too. The government can enforce obligation, and the market can enforce exchange. But all individuals, whether the populace, the laity, politicians or businessmess, should conduct their affairs with love. All else will follow.