Hans Schaller has some profound reflections on asking in his contribution to Asking and Thanking (Concilium), p. 3. Disputing Seneca, he says that asking is a fundamental human form of communication, for two reasons.
First, “The strength of trust, whether between God and human beings or between human beings, is always measured by the amount of room which is made for personal weaknesses, imperfections and needs. It is a special demonstration of trust when we can express our existential needs to other people and to friends. . . . Trust grows in personal relationships where we become free from the pressure of always having to cut a strong, independent, almost impeccable figure. Where we ask, we venture in a concrete way not to suppress or to cover up such need and inner distress, but to recognize it.”
Second, we ask because we are “spiritual beings,” and that means “Human forms of asking are not a specific consequence of our bodily situation, but arise, rather, from the midst of our spiritual existence.” Being spiritual beings means that we recognize our need, evaluate ourselves, see our deficiencies, and communicate those to others.
Seneca to the contrary, “weakness and dependence are not unworthy of us.” Rather than a sign of deficiency, they are “a sign of our humanity” and “an opportunity to be human.”
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Friday, July 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm
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