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Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Reason and Perfection-The Never-Ending Series

I think I realized that the perfection series will never end. Of course.

Today, I am looking again at St. Catherine of Siena. Christ tells her that her Reason must be enlightened on this journey to perfection.

As my regular readers know, the importance of reason in Faith is a theme on this blog. Let me show you Catherine's discussion with Christ on this point. My comments are in blue.

How the light of reason is necessary to every soul that wishes to serve God in truth; and first of the light of reason in general.
Then the Eternal God, delighting in the thirst and hunger of that soul, and in the purity of her heart, and the desire with which she longed to serve Him, turned the eye of His benignity and mercy upon her, saying—“Oh, best-beloved, dearest and sweetest daughter, my spouse! rise out of yourself, and open the eye of your intellect to see Me, the Infinite Goodness, and the ineffable love which I have towards you and My other servants. And open the ear of the desire which you feel towards Me, and remember, that if you do not see, you can not hear, that is to say, that the soul that does not see into My Truth with the eye of her intellect, cannot hear or know My Truth, wherefore in order that you may the better know it, rise above the feelings of your senses.

Notice that Catherine describes much of the same movement of the soul as does John of the Cross. The purification of the senses is a must on the road to perfection, and if you recall that wonderful chart earlier this year on this subject, the Dark Night of the Soul involves the purification of the senses as well as that of the spirit. Reason is of the soul, or mind, and as St Bernard believed, I considered Reason as part of the soul,. purposefully capitalize Reason to highlight it as the gift which separates us from unthinking creatures.

Religion is reasonable and the Catholic Faith is based on Revelation and Reason.

“And I, who take delight in your request, will satisfy your demand. Not that you can increase My delight, for I am the cause of you and of your increase; not those of Mine. Yet the very pleasure that I take in the work of My own hands causes Me delight.”
Then that soul obeyed and rose out of herself, in order to learn the true solution of her difficulty. And the Eternal God said to her, “In order that you may the better understand what I shall say to you, I shall revert to the beginning of your request concerning the three lights which issue from Me, the True Light. The first is a general light dwelling in those who live in ordinary charity. (I shall repeat to you here many things concerning these lights, which I have already told you, in spite of My having done so, in order that your creeping intelligence may better understand that which you wish to know.) The other two lights dwell in those who, having abandoned the world, desire perfection. Besides this I will explain to you your request, telling you in great detail that which I have already pointed out to you in general. You know, as I have told you, that, without the light, no one can walk in the truth, that is, without the light of reason, which light of reason you draw from Me the True Light, by means of the eye of your intellect and the light of faith which I have given you in holy baptism, though you may have lost it by your own defects. For, in baptism, and through the mediation of the Blood of My only-begotten Son, you have received the form of faith; which faith you exercise in virtue by the light of reason, which gives you life and causes you to walk in the path of truth, and, by its means, to arrive at Me, the True Light, for, without it, you would plunge into darkness.

In modern times, this confusion between the terms head and heart, which I find ridiculous, has gained popularity with the Charismatics, Pentecostals and Evangelicals. Some Catholics have told me I am too reasonable about the Faith, a comment I find reveals a deep anti-intellectualism concerning the Faith.

Christ is telling Catherine here that He enlightens the mind, stirring up the graces received in baptism. Now, it is interesting that Christ joins the virtue of charity to Reason. When one is living in sin, one becomes more and more stupid about spiritual matters, as one loses discernment. As Christ states here, faith is exercised, that is used, in the light of reason. Christ joins the virtue of charity with Reason, showing us that He, the Way, the Truth and the Life may be known through love and Reason. 

The True Light, Who is Christ, illumines our souls and purges both the senses and soul.

To be continued....