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Friday, 20 March 2015

Knowledge of Divine Things Part Twelve Fides et Ratio Five

In yesterday's Benedictine Divine Office, which I use, and is called the Monastic Diurnal, at None, the reading from Wisdom 10:10 was this: She conducted the just, when he fled from his brother' s wrath, through the right ways, and shewed him the kingdom of God, and gave him the knowledge of the holy things, made him honourable in his labours, and accomplished his labours.

A reference to Solomon, this passage uses the phrase I chose for this series-the knowledge of holy things, or the knowledge of diving things.

Solomon desired wisdom. 

All people desire truth and desire God, although they may not know this. St. John Paul II reminds us that we all seek knowledge of some kind in order to be fulfilled.

The Apostle (Paul) accentuates a truth which the Church has always treasured: in the far reaches of the human heart there is a seed of desire and nostalgia for God. The Liturgy of Good Friday recalls this powerfully when, in praying for those who do not believe, we say: “Almighty and eternal God, you created mankind so that all might long to find you and have peace when you are found”.22 There is therefore a path which the human being may choose to take, a path which begins with reason's capacity to rise beyond what is contingent and set out towards the infinite.

The saint notes, quoting St. Augustine, that people do not want deceit, and reject it when it is discovered, although they may want to deceive.

Now, at this juncture, John Paul II comes to the main point of humans needing and desiring the answers to basic questions. Have so many priests, bishops, and cardinals forgotten this desire for truth and, instead, settle for compromise and u

The truth comes initially to the human being as a question: Does life have a meaning? Where is it going? At first sight, personal existence may seem completely meaningless. It is not necessary to turn to the philosophers of the absurd or to the provocative questioning found in the Book of Job in order to have doubts about life's meaning. The daily experience of suffering—in one's own life and in the lives of others—and the array of facts which seem inexplicable to reason are enough to ensure that a question as dramatic as the question of meaning cannot be evaded.26 Moreover, the first absolutely certain truth of our life, beyond the fact that we exist, is the inevitability of our death. Given this unsettling fact, the search for a full answer is inescapable. Each of us has both the desire and the duty to know the truth of our own destiny. We want to know if death will be the definitive end of our life or if there is something beyond—if it is possible to hope for an after-life or not. It is not insignificant that the death of Socrates gave philosophy one of its decisive orientations, no less decisive now than it was more than two thousand years ago. It is not by chance, then, that faced with the fact of death philosophers have again and again posed this question, together with the question of the meaning of life and immortality.

John Paul II, perhaps, saw the lack of asking the basic questions among some of his own confreres. Perhaps, he wanted to remind them of death, and the need to find out the truth of "our own destiny". 

Socrates, who asked all the right questions, was killed by the authorities for corrupting youth. This corruption was the simple asking of questions. The bureaucrats of Athens saw questions which led to thinking skills as dangerous to the polis. Of course, comformity and undivided loyality without thought is always demanded of tyrannies.

Catholics who learn how to think, to ask the basic questions and find the answers in our faith, will challenge the powers that be.

John Paul II knew this only too well growing up under both Nazism and Communism.

to be continued...