... that man can only accept himself if he is accepted by another. He needs the other’s presence, saying to him, with more than words: it is good that you exist. Only from the You can the I come into itself. Only if it is accepted, can it accept itself. Those who are unloved cannot even love themselves. This sense of being accepted comes in the first instance from other human beings. But all human acceptance is fragile. Ultimately we need a sense of being accepted unconditionally. Only if God accepts me, and I become convinced of this, do I know definitively: it is good that I exist. It is good to be a human being. If ever man’s sense of being accepted and loved by God is lost, then there is no longer any answer to the question whether to be a human being is good at all. Doubt concerning human existence becomes more and more insurmountable. Where doubt over God becomes prevalent, then doubt over humanity follows inevitably. We see today how widely this doubt is spreading. We see it in the joylessness, in the inner sadness, that can be read on so many human faces today. Only faith gives me the conviction: it is good that I exist. It is good to be a human being, even in hard times. Faith makes one happy from deep within.
Those words were part of the conclusion of the Holy Father's address yesterday to the Curia, in which he shared Christmas greetings and reflected on the past year. The work by Pieper (1904-97) mentioned by Benedict XVI is part of the outstanding book, Faith Hope Love, published by Ignatius Press (and also available in e-book format), one of the finest reflections on the theological virtues ever written. (I relied heavily on Pieper's insights in my essay, "Love and the Skeptic", which contains several quotes from the book.) For more about Pieper's life, thoughts, and many books, visit his Ignatius Insight page: