Egotism and Narcissism, Today's Prevalent Heresies

Interview with Father Azpiroz, Master General of Dominicans

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MILAN, Italy, JULY 8, 2002 (ZENIT.orgAvvenire).- The particular challenge that the Dominicans face in a globalized world is to preach and contemplate the Gospel.

For almost a year, Argentine Father Carlos Azpiroz Costa has been master general of the Order’s 6,359 religious. He talks about the friars challenge in the following interview.

Q: For years you ministered to HIV patients in Buenos Aires. What has this experience meant to you?

Father Azpiroz: Thanks to them I have been able to contemplate in greater depth the mystery of the Blood spilt for the life of the world. The few chances of life they had depended upon the possibility of having “healthy blood.” At the end, when all treatments were in vain, in highest confidence some would say that they wished to offer their illness, their blood. It was as if, at the last moment, they understood the meaning of Jesus’ own offering.

–Q: What impels a young man today to become a Dominican friar?

Father Azpiroz: The person of Jesus and his Word and, in particular, the return to the foundational origins of the Order: to rediscover study as a true Dominican vocation. We must not be afraid of our past but go forward. As the great Dominican theologian Jean Marie Roger Tillard would say, we must think that the Lord can ask us for new forms and ways of evangelical testimony where tradition and memories of the past are not enough.

Q: What new word can Dominicans give today to Christianity?

Father Azpiroz: Every vocation is a gift, for the novices but also for the elderly brothers. We must have the courage to sing a new song, as my predecessor, Father Timothy Radcliffe, would say. Not thinking about how many we are, but about the witness that we offer the world. If I had to look at some of our communities of friars and count their white hairs I would spontaneously comment “how sad.” However, then I say to the young: we are called to live a fraternal life, to understand that we do not have the seduction of a fashion brand, but we must be happy to be a few in a fleeting world.

Q: The Pope has asked you to combat the new heresies. What are they today?

Father Azpiroz: Certainly egotism, the self-sufficiency typical of the consumer society. And then narcissism: a man who is shut in on himself only discovers his self love but forgets the other. With Arianism the Church already experienced similar risks. It is thought that a course in self-knowledge is enough to feel well.

Q: The Dominicans made a great contribution to Vatican II through theologians like Ives Congar and Dominique Chenu. What is your contribution to contemporary theology?

Father Azpiroz: We must be humble in interpreting our time. Congar and Chenu were understood later; time proved them right. Today all of us our indebted to that time and to those theologians. In a certain sense, as the Pope says, the Council is still a mystery that is unfolding. I think what we can offer today is a way of seeing reality through the light given to us by the thought of Thomas Aquinas.

Q: What does it mean today for a youth to become a Dominican?

Father Azpiroz: Many think that the consecrated life is limiting. The temptation of many is to withdraw from the world, because they don’t like the way it is. Instead, it is necessary to live with wide horizons, without limits or walls. I think that many youths should experience the challenge of preaching as Dominicans.

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