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Yale 62

A REFRESHED DROP-OUT’S TALE

By Peter Cassar Torreggiani

Many years after my dropping out of Yale in 1958 and returning to Malta, the renowned economist, Professor Robert Triffin, who would have been my house master at Berkeley had I returned as a sophomore, told me I’d had a good reason for dropping out: questioning the philosophy of economists as it related to politicians.

The next year, when I lost my right arm working in my family’s flour mill, I came face to face with death. In a dramatic encounter, I saw that God really is powerful above all human capacity and will. Yet my arrogant pride caused me to turn against God completely. Instead of putting my faith in Him, I took comfort in the idea that there was no God and no afterlife.  I believed my life would be snuffed out into nothingness, like the light of a candle going out. And yet there was hidden in me a deeper light that in a last moment rejected the intellectual absurdity of such an idea and this change of heart prompted my whole being to cry out to God for mercy.  Instantly, I received it and emotionally I was happy to die, knowing for sure I would eventually be living fully in the comforting light of heaven.  Considering this event in retrospect, did I glimpse the face of the Father? God is good and his infinite mercy is greater than his infinite justice.

A few years later, in ‘62, I had resumed my studies and I found myself wanting to find a way to use my experience of His goodness in the work of attaining European unification. I was meditating in Paris, when I came to the realization that the family is God’s own university in the image of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Holy Trinity. Inspired by this epiphany, I returned to Malta as it moved to independence from Britain, and found myself deeply delving into Thomistic philosophy while helping my father sell suppressed property for death duty taxation on my grandfather’s estate. I was guided by engaging in Thomistic Philosophy (in Latin) through the related property issues across the family involvement in banking and milling, in which my Grandfather Antonio had been a leading businessman.

Moving ahead with my life, I married my first wife Marjorie, who hailed from Scotland, in ‘69 and we had five children. When she died from cancer in 1998, I once again experienced a crisis of faith. Marjorie, a convert to Catholicism, led us both, in the Eucharist, to realize that in Jesus we see the merciful face of the Son of God in the Son of Man, crucified in a love so completely united on the same Cross. From our own agony of death, thanks to St. Paul’s thoughts on the Church as Christ’s bride, Jesus provided a glimpse of Trinitarian glory in the fullness of human love and happiness in the family.

Since 2002, the story continues with my second wife Sharon, an American. In a dramatic incident at that time, the Father and Son’s Infinite Love for all of us showed me the face of the Holy Spirit. I experienced his procession through emanation, from the mutual love of the Father and the Son. Thus, I see that this augurs a better future in a civilization of love.

I am currently engaged in an MPhil at the University of Malta, pointing to personal transcendence as the better future environment for politicians and financiers based on the passage in the Encyclical of St John Paul II “ECCLESIA IN EUROPA” in the light of the writings of the Canadian philosopher, Father Bernard Lonergan (1904-1984), a Jesuit like Pope Francis, which includes economics from a perspective he code-named Cosmopolis.

An excerpt from the encyclical of Pope St John Paul II Ecclesia in Europa

  1. Jesus Christ is our hope because he, the Eternal Word of God, who is always with the Father (cf. Jn 1:18), loved us so much that he assumed our human nature in all things but sin and shared in our life, for the sake of our salvation. The profession of this truth stands at the very heart of our faith. The loss of the truth about Jesus Christ, or a failure to comprehend that truth, prevent us from appreciating and entering into the mystery of God’s love and the Trinitarian communion.(33)

Jesus Christ is our hope because he reveals the mystery of the Trinity. This is the core of the Christian faith, and it can still make a significant contribution, as it has in the past, to the creation of structures which, inspired by the great values of the Gospel or measuring itself against them, are capable of promoting the life, history and culture of the different peoples of the Continent.

Many are the spiritual roots underlying the recognition of the value of the human person and his inalienable dignity, the sacredness of human life and the centrality of the family, the importance of education and freedom of thought, speech and religion, the legal protection of individuals and groups, the promotion of solidarity and the common good, and the recognition of the dignity of labour. These roots have helped lead to the submission of political power to the rule of law and to respect for the rights of individuals and peoples. Here we should mention the spirit of ancient Greece and Rome, the contributions of the Celtic, Germanic, Slav and Finno-Ugric peoples and the influence of Jewish and Islamic culture. Yet it must be acknowledged that these inspiring principles have historically found in the Judeo-Christian tradition a force capable of harmonizing, consolidating and promoting them. This is a fact which cannot be ignored; on the contrary, in the process of building a united Europe there is a need to acknowledge that this edifice must also be founded on values that are are most fully manifested in the Christian tradition. Such an acknowledgment is to everyone’s advantage.

The Church “is not entitled to express preferences for this or that institutional or constitutional solution” for Europe, and for this reason she consistently desires to respect the legitimate autonomy of the civil order.(34) Nevertheless, she has the task of reviving faith in the Trinity among the Christians of Europe, knowing full well that this faith is the herald of authentic hope for the continent. Many of the great paradigms of reference mentioned above, which are at the core of European civilization, have their deepest roots in the Church’s trinitarian faith. This faith contains an extraordinary spiritual, cultural and ethical potential which is also capable of shedding light on some of the more important questions discussed in Europe today, such as social disintegration and the loss of a meaningful point of reference for life and history. Hence the need for a renewed theological, spiritual and pastoral meditation on the mystery of the Trinity.(35)

 
We invite your comments below.

5 comments to Torreggiani

  • Steve Rose

    Peter, how was “… questioning the philosophy of economists as it related to politicians….” a good reason to drop out of Yale?

  • Peter Cassar Torreggiani

    Well Steve, I had heard our lecturer telling us in class that the job of the economist was to help the politician give the people what they want, and this set me thinking. So if everybody wanted bad things, for instance drugs, then the economist’s job was to help politicians provide them for everybody. So basically I was looking for the ethical perspective in the professional applied thinking of economists (and politicians). It looked as though it was not likely to be present intellectually. and it led to a cost benefit decision in terms of life commitment.

    Professors Triffin and Vassily Leontif, both well known economists, helped me later to espy a political way ahead through a conference they both addressed in Rome, held by the international European Movement.

    Many years later I was delighted to find a techno-ethic insight into circulation analysis in economic science from Bernard Lonergan SJ (1904-1984, a methodologist, philosopher, theologian, and economist, which to my mind can promise in modified applications of modern day financial engineering type techniques to facilitate, from entrepreneurial innovative wealth creation, simultaneous direct distribution.

    I hope to approach this through an MPhil at University of Malta after a lifetime in flour milling and on retirement, teaching English for Foreigners. The objective is faith helping inform a better global civilization of love from the Trinitarian roots of western civilization.

  • Steve Buck

    Wow! Lots to chew on here. And great that a you are doing an MPhil. I and my wife Hala have fond memories of spending a total of 6 weeks in Malta, spread out over 3 different years, to attend ICASSI, an International summer institute for Adlerian psychologists. I especially remember the conference being held in a hotel given to Malta by Qaddhafi at a time when my office at the State Department was banning all contact with the Libyan regime.

  • Lee Bolman

    Peter,

    You are blessed to have found a faith that works for you, and it’s not surprising that it was forged and deepened in personal crises. Your account of your journey raises the possibility of a broader conversation about the role of faith in our lives, even though many of us have faiths different from yours and from one another’s.

    Lee

  • Chris Cory

    as a former co9rresponding
    secretary, it gives me great pleasure to hail a new voice on the website.

    Chris
    Cory

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