Re: The Justinian “I”
November 1, 2005
Solemnity of All Saints 2005
To All Vocationists
May God the Holy Spirit unite us ever more with the Son to the Father.
The substance of this letter is just a pale attempt to present to you Fr. Justin seen as a psychologist. Unless there is an explicit reference to other sources, all the ideas of Fr. Justin are taken from the first and the second volume of Faciamus Hominem. I hope that one of our confreres, more capable in these matters, may be inspired to do a complete study of these. Some brief references to a particular psychologist or psychoanalyst were made in order to help us see Fr. Justin in line with his contemporaries and the prevalent ideas in his period. I do not intend to present to you a lesson in psychology. I just would like to bring to you a warm invitation to discover another aspect of the thoughts and vision of Fr. Justin, to encourage you to understand the theology of psychology and of anthropology, and to facilitate a common journey towards holiness.
“Grant me …to know and sustain myself, with all my strength and senses, in every moment and circumstances, in the state and disposition of servant and disciple, son and friend, and above all, your soul-
“Deliver, O Jesus, your word to my senses, longings and sentiments, in all parts of my human body; to my memory, intellect and will, to all of my poor soul; to my understanding, conscience and liberty, to all of my poor human person.” (Dev. 971).
We listen and repeat that “nature does not make a leap” and that “grace builds upon nature”; these truths are taken for granted by those who have the gift of understanding enlightened by faith. I cannot be a saint if I do not sanctify all of myself. I cannot just sanctify a part or parts of myself. In order to sanctify all of myself, I should, first of all know my “I”, as it is seen in my perspective and in the perspective of God; this will be my staring point in order to develop, elevate and sanctify my I (myself). A perspective of myself outside of God cannot be complete, and therefore, it is not sufficient.
As a man of faith called to personal holiness and to become minister of sanctification for others, I cannot ignore anthropology and psychology if I want to realize in fullness the plan of God. When Fr. Justin makes us pray to obtain “the perfection of all the sciences that are considered auxiliary of theology, and to take advantage of every science as auxiliary to sacred theology, to grasp the theological aspect of all human knowledge, and to possess the theology of every science.” (Dev. 468), he makes us pray and invites us to know the theology also of anthropology and of psychology.
Only after grasping the theological value of every human knowledge, our well-
We learned in philosophy that God is a simple being in his essence; simple in the sense that he cannot be divided into parts. Man, on the contrary, is a composite being, consisting of many parts. Because of this, man is subject to confusion, division and imbalance when the various parts are not in harmony with one another and do not work together. In order to harmonize the various components of our “I”, it is necessary to know them, to control them and direct them to its ultimate end. Thus, we learn the theology of psychology and of anthropology.
“Created Trinity” in the Justinian psychology
In the human soul, Fr. Justin sees an imprint, though it may not be perfect, of the most holy Trinity. He focuses on the soul of man trying to understand more deeply the trinitarian mystery; he knows well that man, in his soul, is the image of God. God the Trinity has imprinted in man his image. This triad consists of winged children, youths and masters; they do not imply three lives but one, not three souls but one, not three essences but a single essence. They are not three stages, three phases, three developments, three terms distinct from one another that form one unity (entity) but they are one because they exist essentially in one spirit. To reflect upon oneself generates thoughts of oneself; from the one generating to the one that is generated proceeds the third term, which is love. Only knowing its own self, the soul can love itself. One cannot love himself if he does not know himself. Love is a kind of embrace that unites the one generating to the one that is generated, the lover and the loved one.
Even though I am “the image and likeness of God”, there is always an infinite difference between me and God. Even if I were able to fully develop all of my faculties to the maximum, even if I were able to reach the highest peak of perfection, even though I am divine in the sense that I come from God and return to God, I remain always a poor creature, “limited and successive”. Notwithstanding the abyss that separates me from God, it is equally true that my “I” remains a valid revelation of God Trinity; likewise the Trinity remains a valid and powerful revelation of my “I”. All that can be predicated of God, in an infinitely limited way, can also be predicated of my “I”, and vice versa, all that the beautiful and good attributes predicated of my “I” can be predicated of God in a perfect and absolute way.
The human development
Man is born, grows, ages and dies. From childhood, he passes on to adolescence, youthfulness, maturity and old age. Man grows biologically and psychologically, intellectually and socially, morally and spiritually, quantitatively and qualitatively. I often think that when the Lord tells us “if you don’t become like a child”, he is referring to this quality of growth more evident in a child than in adults. I really like to think that when the Lord tells me that I must become like a child, he tells me that I must grow.
The Lord present to us the kingdom of heaven as one having many mansions; St. Therese of Avila speaks to us of an interior castle; St. John of the Cross, of the ascent to Mount Carmel; Fr. Justin speaks to us of the ascension and of the three levels of our faculty: children, youths and masters (Cf. F. H. I, cap XVI).
Deconchy presents human development as successive evolutionary stages that unfolds spirally around a perpendicular axis. Fr. Justin sees equally the progression of souls in a spiral ascension, elevating itself towards God (perpendicular axis), going from God-
Even if not in a strict theological sense, psychology sees man as one and three– an image of the Trinity. Freud perceives first the human mind as being constituted by three structures: (Conscious, pre-
The Id indicates the psychological faculties hidden from the individual’s conscience; often the Id is called the subconscious. The “I” is the totality of all the faculty formed since birth; it controls the relationship with reality. As an integral part of the individual, the “I” is influenced by social factors and acts as mediator between unconscious desires and social expectations. Il super-
Fr. Justin as educator, ascetic and mystic cannot ignore psychology, rather, he gives us his own trinitarian version of the individual’s psychology. The Vocationist spirituality is based on the triad: the Holy Church, the Holy Family and the Divine Trinity. Every component of this triad is again articulated into another triad: Militant, Suffering and Triumphant Church; Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph; Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Likewise, the “I” of Fr. Justin is made up of one triad, namely, winged children, winged youths and winged masters. Every element of this triad is again expressed into another triad: the children are: fantasy, sense and sentiment; youths are: memory, intellect and will; and masters are reason, conscience and liberty. All these faculties are unified and harmonized by the winged sovereign queen: the person.
The adjective winged qualifies every element of the Justinian “I”. With this adjective, Fr. Justin indicates that all our psychological faculties, though they can be and must be controlled, they easily escape; all have the capacity to fly, even the less noble ones.
Piaget presents the well-
The memory recalls past experiences and thus it offers to the intellect the possibility to enlighten and theorize the same experiences which, once perceive by the intellect as good, push first the will to desire them, and afterwards to actualize them. As the present is constructed on the shoulders of the past, so the intellect and will operate based on past experiences. In our case the will and intellect, our winged youths, operate on the basis of the fantasy, sentiments and sensorial experiences of the winged children. Philosophers and theologians have put always in discussions on which of these two, the intellect or the will, is more important. These positions have given origin to two different schools of thought.
Fr. Justin, a good practical philosopher, though not entirely siding with one or the other school of thought, sustains the extraordinary importance of the intellect over to the will. The will is a blind faculty; it needs to be enlightened by the intellect in order to do what is good. Without the light which comes from the intellect, this mass of energy which we call will can be a power enormously disastrous. This is the reason why Fr. Justin insists so much on catechesis, on study, on spiritual reading and perpetual formation. The reason leads into assimilation by transforming into action what it has perceived.
The three winged children
The three winged children, fantasy, sense, and sentiments, correspond in a certain sense to Id or the subconscious as they lack consciousness and reason. In life, these three faculties are not so easily controllable; they remain always pleasant, likeable, daring and full of life, but they are not always docile. Fr. Justin does not hesitate to define them “my winged messengers, little servants and winged missionaries” (F. H. II, 987).
Fantasy, “the most daring of my children”, is an interior construction created on the perception of the world. A child (o the non-
According to some authors, real life (I would rather say, the first expressions of life) begins with the senses. The sense is that which perceives things as they are, through taste, hearing, sight, smell, and touch. Senses are developed in first years of existence, and all that is perceived through the senses, by emotional evaluation, originates sentiments of attraction and repulsion, likes and dislikes, love and hate. Melanie Klein is of the opinion that the child begins to develop his affectivity though skin contact with the mother, and with the taste of the maternal milk. He begins to experience primary emotions and reactions to that which is satisfying or unsatisfying, after which he gradually the gradually develops sentiments or mediated reactions from what is perceived as good or bad.
It is said, and it’s true, that in every youth there is a little child within, and in every adult, there is a little imprint of a child and a youth this is reaffirmed by the same Fr. Justin, when he states that the element of superior form assimilates and possess the qualities of the inferior ones. In this marvelous world of my “I”, children, youths and masters do not come one after the other, like the stages of our life, but they live together in the same moment, sometime alternating, sometime contrasting one another or cooperating among themselves. Indeed due to their characteristics, the winged children, in Fr. Justin, tell and discover the most daring and risky truths on matters concerning the almost impossibility of damnation for unbaptized children and adults, and on matters concerning their special planets, Edens or heavens.
How charming are these children and how easily can they be tamed when the Lord embraces them! Who would ever think of extending Jesus’ embrace of the children to our most humble psychological faculties? While the sense is more bound to material things, the sentiment is more influenced by those around it; the fantasy easily detaches itself and flies uncontrollably from one world to another, from one heaven to another! Blessed be my children!
“On the body consecrated to him (the Lord) engraves the seal of mortification, with some sign of the cross in every sense and a crown of thorns to every sentiment, a garland of wings to the fantasy and an unique triple flame on the heart: alone inside, triple outside... his flame.” (F. H., II 434).
The winged youths
A youth is always full of vigor, exuberant and inquisitive; he dreams to be able to change the world and to conquer it. Young people in practical and social life often experience conflicts with parents and authority, with regards to their natural needs to be able to affirm themselves, to venture, to experience and to experiment, while the parents need to protect, defend and to caution. The same thing really happens in the psychological and social life of every individual: memory, intellect and will are full of vigor; they feel the need to explode while the winged masters, reason, conscience and liberty seek to control, dominate, and supervise them (while on their part, the children try to distract them and let them bother). Often in practical life, with a sense of regret and complaint, we say: “Oh, if young people knew, and if old men could do!” In the psychological and spiritual life, it happens that we do possess simultaneously the freshness of the children, the vigor of youth and the wisdom of the old (masters).
The three winged youths are really three powerful faculties that can transform personal life and the world that revolved around them. The memory which Fr. Justin defines as “tenacious safety box”, is that capacity which enables us to extend and live again the past, creating a continuum which then becomes the present. Without the memory, we would have a present in a vacuum, without support and continuity. In the psychological, intellectual and spiritual life, the memory or the recollection of positive past experiences creates in us confidence and hope. On the other hand, the memory or recollection of negative past experiences may generate distrust and discouragement. Memory can likewise generate a profound self-
The intellect is the ability to reason out, to resolve, to evade or to confront problems in the course of one’s life. With the intellect we move forward beyond what is seen; the intellect gives us the ability to abstract, to synthesize and to understand. It is the light which permits discernment. In the previously cited prayer, Fr. Justin continues: “There is no peace in my intellect because it is focused on apparent truths and does not rise up and stay in the truth of the divine being; it lets itself to be drawn by the will fascinated by transitory and false good”.
The will is the ability to desire, to plan and to actualize our future; an energy which enables us to overcome contrasting forces. We say that the will is power, for the reason that the will moves us to decide; from it come the determining tendencies which will be guided by the idea of the objective or goal to be achieved. The impulse of the will increases the energy or the performance level necessary for the completion of what one really wants.
The child say “I want” but he doesn’t have the power to impose what he wants. The young person says the same thing, but he says it with more force and vigor, and with the ability to differentiate, distinguish, compete, and to rebel in order to reach his scope, or the state of being an adult.
“Before the truth, my intellect cannot remain indifferent nor cold, but with the vehemence of love, it unites itself, in an embrace, with the truth! You are one, O infinite goodness of love, and in your presence, my shall not remain indecisive and cold” (F. H. II, 275).
“What will ever be the power and the capability the souls, in all the higher degrees of intellectual, volitional and operational life, even in the natural life only? What ever higher ascensions in truth, in goodness and in reigning the world, will be its great and glorious possibilities?” (F. H. II, 661).
Fr. Justin concludes the introduction of the Direttorio del Fine stressing the volitional force of the will: “All that I can, I must (homo potens), all that I must, I want, (homo volens), all that I want, shall be done (homo agens). Homo sapiens is interaction among physical, psychological, social, spiritual and rational levels.
The three winged masters
The three winged masters: reason, conscience and liberty, the supreme powers of the human being, examine critically the things that children and youth do; only in this way does the individual do acts that are really human acts, that is, conscious, moral and responsible acts. The reason forms the conscience and in turn the conscience prepares the liberty to make its choices.
The reason is the faculty that allows man to discern what he knows, to distinguish the truth from what is not, to judge things as they are, to make a reasonable choice and act accordingly in conformity with its principles. In psychology, reason is often used to express the opposite pole of intuition, instinct or sentiments.
Conscience is the affirmation of the I, the power of the I and on the I. The conscience is the ability to analyze the will; it is an upward movement which puts into harmony the “I” with his actions.
Even from a superficial glimpse at Faciamus Hominem, it immediately appears clear that the highest gift and power given to us is our liberty. To this, in fact, Fr. Justin dedicates three chapters. Often, we see this liberty as a two-
Once more, Fr. Justin adds: “the liberty proper of the soul and of the human person -
“Only through his own liberty can the human soul be raised as distinct person to a certain equality with the Lord; and precisely through grace – participation of the divine nature -
The winged sovereign queen
The winged sovereign queen, the person, is the unifying principle of all the various faculties, almost as the one person of Jesus is the unifying principle between the divine and the human nature. For Fr. Justin, man is essentially an image and likeness of God; external irradiation of the internal divine glory , a gift of God to God! Outside of God there is nothing, and there cannot be anything better than God’s image for every divine person.
Fr. Justin concludes his vision of the “I” affirming that the winged sovereign queen, that is the person, coordinates, harmonizes, dominates and controls the child, the youth and the master. Only when all these faculties are unified and harmonized can we have a sound and balanced person. If the coordination of all the psychological powers is lacking, then we have an incomplete, unbalanced, confused and destructive person. As all is reduced to unity in God so also in man; only when all human faculties are well harmonized, we have a well balanced, functional, real human person.
It seems that the first and highest commandment: "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all your soul and with all of your mind" respects or follows this triple level of our faculties, seeing in the heart the three children, in the mind the three youth and in the soul the three masters.
In the preparation to holy communion, for the month of July, Fr. Justin summarizes his vision of the self, praying: “Say, O Jesus, your word on my senses, fantasy and sentiment, in all of my human body, on my memory, intellect and will, on all of my poor human soul; on my reason, conscience and liberty, on all of my poor humanity.”
As the body, composed of various members, remains one, as the mystical body being composed of many members and of many parts is one, so too does the “I” being composed of so many faculties must remain one.
That the unum sint, the prayer of Jesus that all are may be one, may be seen in the world, in the Church, in the Congregation and in my “I”!
United in the service of the divine vocations and in prayer, let us walk speedily toward holiness!
InJesus,Mary and Joseph
Fr. Louis M. Caputo, S.D.V.
1. The second part of Faciamus Hominem of Fr. Justin was published; those who have not yet received this book may request it directly to the Secretary General. At the moment, we have already four volumes of the Opera Omnia being published. I hope that the fifth one will come to light before the year ends.
2. Though not yet in its canonical form, the fact is that we have open our first mission in Ecuador, at Vilcabamba in the province of Loja. Fr. Marcelo Paredes and the our student, Br. Herney are fixing up our property which need repairs. With the confreres assigned to that comunity and with Fr. Lorenzo Gomez, I celebrated the feast of “Our Lord of Justice” (October 12) and of Our Lady of Fatima (October 13). In addition to the presence of the bishop and of many priests, there was a multitude of faithful of various towns and cities, some came even from Perù. The new house shall be called “Our Lady of Fatima Vocationary”.
3. The restructuration of our house in Colombia has been completed. At the moment, there are two priests, a deacon, four novices and three postulants in the house.
4. The closing of the year dedicated to Fr. Justin, the celebration of the 85th anniversary of the foundation of our Congregation, and the official and public proclamation of the XIII General Chapter in Pianura was honored by the presence of Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, by numerous confreres, Sisters, Apostles and Friends of Fr. Justin, by a great flock of Pianura and those coming from various localities both near and far. With all my heart, I thank those who cooperated to make this year dedicated to Fr. Justin a very positive, immense success.
5. The letter on the proclamation of the Chapter with the ballots for the election of the Delegates, and the prayer cards with the prayer to be recited everyday were already sent to the confrere who will preside the election of the Delegates in your area group. The prayer for the success of the Chapter can be laudably recited together with the people anywhere and in any possible time.
6. As an appendage and as thanksgiving for the year dedicated to Fr. Justin, we will celebrate a dinner dance to benefitr the Vocationist mission, on November 19 at Restaurant Castello dei Barbari in Pozzuoli. For reservation tickets, you may contact Fr. Giuseppe Ferrara in Quarto.
7. In preparation for the Chapter, I ask all religious houses to make an inventory of all properties that belong to the Congregation: real estate, furnishings and all other items. For inquiry and assistance, please, contact Fr. Giuseppe Fasano.
8. On November 5, Our confrere, deacon Allan Daclan will be ordained to priesthood in Davao, Philippines. I ask a memento in your prayers for him.
9. From November 5 to December 14, I will be in Florham Park, USA. I need to undergo surgical operation on my left knee. (I don’t see the necessity to anticipate the General Chapter!). For any necessity during my absence, you may call or write to our Vicar General.
10. Please recommend in your prayers our dear confrere Fr. Calogero Brancato, who had an accident, falling from a stair while cleaning the church, and has received many fractures; he will be hospitalized for some time before he will be transferred to a rehabilitation center.
11. The last spiritual retreat for this year will be held in Pianura from November 7-
12. As soon as possible, we will published the list of the confreres who have participated to the spiritual retreat, of those who have completed the questionnaires for the General Chapter and of those who have deposited their Last will and Testament in the archives of the Congregation.
13. As it has been said many a times, for the administration of the community and of the parish, there is a need to have a postal or bank account. I ask the superiors, the bursars and the parish priests not to close any bank account of the community or of the parish after receiving a letter of re-
14. Fr. Ciro Sarnataro has published the book Appunti di Spiritualita Vocazionista. He who wants a copy of this precious publication can ask for it directly Fr. Ciro or to the Secretary General.