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Friday, 20 March 2015

Knowledge of Divine Things Part Thirteen Fides et Ratio Six

Sometimes in an encyclical, a line "jumps out" at a person. Here is one from Fides et Ratio, the focus of this half of the series, now no longer "mini". I backtrack a bit in this post....

If human beings with their intelligence fail to recognize God as Creator of all, it is not because they lack the means to do so, but because their free will and their sinfulness place an impediment in the way.

I hear so many people, especially in the UK, speaking of the ignorance of people as if humans beings were cattle. St. John Paul II and many others have made it clear to us that our natural, as well as supernatural intellegence can lead us to God. The intellect will be illumined by grace if one is open to metanoia, to change. (See my previous posts on metanoia). The free will can be closed to God by a continual life of sin which causes one's discernment to darken. (See the series on discernment).

True ignorance must be rare in this era of communications. The vast majority of young people have more knowlege, more information, (not necessarily knowledge,) literally at their fingertips. God nudges people to see Him. He wants to "be found".  What is missing is fear of the Lord. Here is John Paul II again.

For the Old Testament, then, faith liberates reason in so far as it allows reason to attain correctly what it seeks to know and to place it within the ultimate order of things, in which everything acquires true meaning. In brief, human beings attain truth by way of reason because, enlightened by faith, they discover the deeper meaning of all things and most especially of their own existence. Rightly, therefore, the sacred author identifies the fear of God as the beginning of true knowledge: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov 1:7; cf. Sir 1:14).

One may ask the question as to why a certain person would no longer "fear the Lord" or what true knowledge? I have asked myself this question after speaking with many women and men who are following false seers, even those condemned. Why do they not fear the Lord, who speaks through the Church? Why do they not want true knowledge and are closed when presented with alternative explanations to what they are believing? Why do sodomites not fear the Lord, or the arrogant who oppress the poor?

Why do those in power in the Church not fear the Lord and, instead, follow their own counsels?

 Remember my post on Thomas Merton stating that television was intruding into the space created by God for contemplation of Him and His mysteries? But, television is not the only power which clogs the special ability of humans to reflect reasonably on God and His ways. Power, status, sex, money...the list is endless. Some one I know and respect told me on Tuesday that poverty was a great gift to him, as it made him detached from such things. Here is the saint again:

In the first chapter of his Letter to the Romans, Saint Paul helps us to appreciate better the depth of insight of the Wisdom literature's reflection. Developing a philosophical argument in popular language, the Apostle declares a profound truth: through all that is created the “eyes of the mind” can come to know God. Through the medium of creatures, God stirs in reason an intuition of his “power” and his “divinity” (cf. Rom 1:20). This is to concede to human reason a capacity which seems almost to surpass its natural limitations. Not only is it not restricted to sensory knowledge, from the moment that it can reflect critically upon the data of the senses, but, by discoursing on the data provided by the senses, reason can reach the cause which lies at the origin of all perceptible reality. In philosophical terms, we could say that this important Pauline text affirms the human capacity for metaphysical enquiry.

Now, John Paul II is getting to the meat of the encyclical. We are all capable of metaphysical enquiry, what is missing in Catholic newspaper editorials and commentaries, Catholic magazines, Catholic television shows, Catholic blogs. The framework for discussion is not there.

Few are reasoning out the basic questions.


Why have they turned away from the capacity which is given to all?

As I noted, all the heresies, ALL, are now attacking the Church. The list is long and embodied in particular people, cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, the laity.

And where are, I repeat, the Augustines, the Athanasius, the Bellarmines, to respond to these attacks within the Church?

If all have the capacity, then those who are steeped in heresy have purposefully turned away from truth, as God will allow Himself to be found by the just man.

If all have the capacity, why are the laity putting at the brush fires and ignoring the firestorm creeping over the edge of the mountain? Comments on blogs, letters to editors, petitions, will not change the heresies in the Church. Actions must be preceded by contemplation, meditation, mortification.
The blindness of pride, states John Paul II, removes one from the knowledge which God wants to give. Disobedience, whether in not keeping marriage vows, or following condemned seers, darkens the intellect in a turning away owing to pride.

But, Praise be to Jesus Christ, He came and freed our reason. So, why do so many people go back and choose the shackles?

The blindness of pride deceived our first parents into thinking themselves sovereign and autonomous, and into thinking that they could ignore the knowledge which comes from God. All men and women were caught up in this primal disobedience, which so wounded reason that from then on its path to full truth would be strewn with obstacles. From that time onwards the human capacity to know the truth was impaired by an aversion to the One who is the source and origin of truth. It is again the Apostle who reveals just how far human thinking, because of sin, became “empty”, and human reasoning became distorted and inclined to falsehood (cf. Rom 1:21-22). The eyes of the mind were no longer able to see clearly: reason became more and more a prisoner to itself. The coming of Christ was the saving event which redeemed reason from its weakness, setting it free from the shackles in which it had imprisoned itself.

23. This is why the Christian's relationship to philosophy requires thorough-going discernment. In the New Testament, especially in the Letters of Saint Paul, one thing emerges with great clarity: the opposition between “the wisdom of this world” and the wisdom of God revealed in Jesus Christ. The depth of revealed wisdom disrupts the cycle of our habitual patterns of thought, which are in no way able to express that wisdom in its fullness.

John Paul II knows it is the Cross which brings one back to the basic questions of philosophical thinking, to the metaphysics of all teaching which is good, beautiful and true in the Church.

The wisdom of the Cross, therefore, breaks free of all cultural limitations which seek to contain it and insists upon an openness to the universality of the truth which it bears. What a challenge this is to our reason, and how great the gain for reason if it yields to this wisdom! Of itself, philosophy is able to recognize the human being's ceaselessly self-transcendent orientation towards the truth; and, with the assistance of faith, it is capable of accepting the “foolishness” of the Cross as the authentic critique of those who delude themselves that they possess the truth, when in fact they run it aground on the shoals of a system of their own devising. The preaching of Christ crucified and risen is the reef upon which the link between faith and philosophy can break up, but it is also the reef beyond which the two can set forth upon the boundless ocean of truth. Here we see not only the border between reason and faith, but also the space where the two may meet.

So one reason why so many refuse to think is that they refuse to do the hard thing-follow the Cross. 

The acceptance of suffering clears the mind and allows for the grace of God to illuminate the intellect. Running away from the Cross deadens this process.

What we have seen in recent days are examples of those running away from the Cross, and instead, choosing those "cultural limitations" which attempt to put truth into a box.

Here is the truth:  The search for truth, of course, is not always so transparent nor does it always produce such results. The natural limitation of reason and the inconstancy of the heart often obscure and distort a person's search. Truth can also drown in a welter of other concerns. People can even run from the truth as soon as they glimpse it because they are afraid of its demands. Yet, for all that they may evade it, the truth still influences life. Life in fact can never be grounded upon doubt, uncertainty or deceit; such an existence would be threatened constantly by fear and anxiety. One may define the human being, therefore, asthe one who seeks the truth.

St. John Paul II sheds light on the running away from truth by some...

to be continued...and is it not strange that a prominent Jewish commentator used this passage, referring to the knowledge of the Lord in relation to the eclipse on Friday? Interesting.

Isaiah 11:9: “None will harm or destroy another on My entire holy mountain, for the land will be as 

full of the knowledge of the Lord as the sea is filled with water.”

Read more: Solar eclipse Friday has some looking for signs from God | The Times of Israel
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