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Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Do Not Trust in Princes

How often did Our Lord and His Mother suffer because of the powers that be?

The other day, I told someone I could not trust an atheist or agnostic. This shocked the person. But, Cardinal Manning in his chapter on the gift of understanding, states the idea much more strongly.

“This gift of intellect or understanding, as it is a gift of the Holy Ghost, is found in no man who is out of the grace of God; and therefore in no one who is an unbeliever in the revelation of God, and therefore in no one who is out of charity with God and his neighbour. It is a special intellectual power or perfection given to those who, corresponding to the light of faith and to the Spirit of God working within them, receive, over and above the light and power of natural reason, a further supernatural gift which becomes habitual like a special faculty."

Why would anyone choose a politician, a world leader, or even a spouse from among those who have darkened intellects because of sin or unbelief?

Understanding helps each one of us perceive supernatural truths. Manning writes this of understanding, that it penetrates, “…into the reasons and the motives of faith” and that it helps to “exhibit and to prevail on others, by the exhibition of the truth, to believe in the same.”

It is a discernment, an “intuition”.  Manning notes that as when we read the words of a book, our intellect picks up more than just the letters on the page. We understand combinations, suggestions.

As I have noted from his previous book examined on this blog, and now, from this chapter, “Reason is the preamble of faith.”  Faith is rational and unbelief is irrational. So, how could anyone trust someone who is living in a lack of rationality?

St. Anselm is quoted by Manning: “...but having believed…as it would be contrary to the divine order for us to examine and to discuss by reasoning the revelation of God until we have believed it, so it would be an act of great negligence on our part if, after we have believed it, we did not try thoroughly to understand it…”.

We come to understand the meaning of the Scriptures, of Tradition.  Understanding, states Manning, leads to contemplation, which goes beyond an orthodox acceptance of revelation. One learns the answer to the Catechism questions, but one must return to ponder these truths, to understand.

I know people who do not believe in the Incarnation. They are Christian Scientists and Moslems. They do not believe that Christ is the God-Man.  In the Gospel of John, we see the phrase, “the Word made Flesh”. Manning points out that this is merely the beginning of the use of our intellect, which then absorbs the truths of the Nicene Creed, the Summa Theologica and so on. From the acceptance and then the beginning of understanding of the Incarnation, one moves to the doctrine of the Holy Sacrament, the Real Presence and so on.

The gift of understanding allows us to move from the basics to the sublime.

Would you trust your life to an atheist? Would you trust the words of someone who completely lacks understanding of who man is and Who God Is?

I believe, as did Cardinal Manning, the Doctors of the Church, the saints who defended the doctrines of the Church.  I believe in those who witnessed by their blood in the Church, in the Papacy, in Christ. I believe in the Church. But, then, I have chosen to develop the gift of understanding by seeking Truth, Who Is a Person, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.

In our day, we are surrounded by those who demand our trust but who are not believersor who are separated by choice from the Church. They are involved in, as Manning puts it, “the complex pretensions of error”.

The Truth is simple and certain as it is from God, as Jesus called Himself, “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”.

To trust in Christ using the gift of understanding is to choose life.

“We must choose between one of two things: we must either believe the Catholic faith, or find a rational and intellectual solution of the unity of truth, and of its adaptation to human nature and of the existence of the Christian world.”

Cardinal Manning speaks to us today.

Of course, as no one can do this, relativism and subjectivism are rife.

To be continued…