Friday, August 20, 2010

On "Maximum Personality"

Human nature was made with the capacity to participate freely and willingly in a process of growing into the likeness of God. Created in the image of God, a human person also lives by relationship, and this provides for maximum individuality. God planned beings who could attain maximum personality.
-David Fagerberg, Theologia Prima, p24

Maximum personality. What a phrase! And situated so, as a gift one attains through relationship. As the persons of the Holy Trinity are eternally in relationship with each other, so are each of us called to relationship with those around us, to love those around us as the Trinity loves.  It is through these relationships - as well as through our relationship with God, of course - that we are principally to achieve holiness.

We know this from many theologians. But look at Fagerberg's last phrase there: to attain maximum personality. Through relationship, we achieve holiness; through relationship, we achieve maximum personality. The holier we become, the more we become truly ourselves? the more our own unique personality shines out?

Perhaps this is why so many saints and holy people are and have been such eccentric folks with habits strange and delightful.  Now that's a model of life I could strive for!

O Jesus, meek and humble of Heart, make my heart like unto Thine.


  1. Absolutely. I think so. But try this caveat on for size. The Saint's extreme individuality and 'maximum personality' comes about not because the Saint aims at uniqueness or self-actualization so much as because the Saint aims at annihilation of everything that is not in conformity with the love of God. As with his enjoyment of creatures (i.e. use with the joyous referring of thanksgiving to God), unique and complete self-actualization comes not from concentrating on anything other than God, no matter how lovable these things might be, and learning to love them; but rather comes from learning to love God whom all things imitate and toward whom all things tend. Then, when love is learned through an influx of Divine Love from the God who cannot resist the heart who has chosen to forsake Earth for Heaven, that very heart is so enlarged with love that it loves all things, even itself, much more so than were it to have concentrated its powers on loving these things and itself. And since love is the measure, a soul becomes as great as is the love of her heart. Exploding with love, a soul's life becomes dynamic to the point where the confines of her rule of life cannot contain it! Then her inner life explodes out, and everyone sees the dynamism that the Lord has hidden in a field bought by His own blood.

    Jesus rarely seems to permit a Soul He has blessed with life and life to the full to be long hidden, no matter how ardently the soul would wish her life to be thought dull and her personality non-existent. Annihilating all things for her bridegroom, He gives her aloes, and perfumes, and flowers, and gems; gardens, orchards, cellars, hills: indeed, He gives her all things, and she makes a return of them to Him, to her dynamic flourishing and to His praise and glory. Amen.

  2. I love David Fagerberg! I've had the opportunity to take one of his classes here at the University of Notre Dame and he's great! :) Thanks for sharing this!


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