Thursday 23rd February 2017

Home » Don Fier »Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

God Comes To Meet Man

November 14, 2013 Don Fier, Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

Last week, a topic was taken up that was immediately addressed in the first chapter of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC): man’s capacity to know God by reason alone. It was demonstrated in two basic, commonsense ways that “by natural reason man can know God with certainty, on the basis of His works” (CCC, n. 50). The supporting arguments focused around what we can directly observe or easily discern in two of God’s most magnificent works of creation, “the physical world and the human person” (CCC, n. 31).
This week, we will turn our attention to “another order of knowledge, which man cannot possibly arrive at by his own powers: the order of Divine Revelation” (CCC, n. 50). However, before doing so, it would be instructive to briefly examine philosophical ways that we can know God by reason, ways that were beautifully developed in the 13th century by a great doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas.
In his classic masterpiece, the Summa Theologiae (STh), St. Thomas proved that “in different ways, man can come to know that there exists a reality which is the first cause and final end of all things, a reality ‘that everyone calls God’” (CCC, n. 34). In part I, question 2, article 3 of his Summa, the Angelic Doctor posited five proofs by which one can know of the existence of God by reason alone: 1) motion, 2) efficient cause, 3) possibility and necessity, 4) grades of perfection to be found in things, and 5) the governance of the world. St. Thomas showed that God is the Prime Mover, the First and Uncaused Cause, the Necessary Being, the Absolute Perfect Being, and the Supreme Intelligent Designer.
All of these ways of demonstrating the existence of God are based on truths or principles that are self-evident and that cannot rationally be denied.
One example of a self-evident truth used by St. Thomas is the principle of contradiction (or non-contradiction) which Fr. John Hardon, SJ, defines as “the universal law of being and thought that something cannot both be and not be at the same time in the same respect.”
It is outside the scope of this series to give a detailed explanation of each of the five proofs of St. Thomas. However, we will briefly look at one of the ways — the third way — that of possibility (or contingency) and necessity. Basically, this proof holds that if there was ever a time when there was nothing, there could not ever be anything, for only nothing can come from nothing. For anything to be, there must have existed from all eternity a necessary being with no beginning from which everything else received its being. This necessary being is God.
As Professor Charles E. Rice points out in his book 50 Questions on the Natural Law, Julie Andrews had it right in the 1965 musical film The Sound of Music when she sang the lyric: “Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever could.”
We have now established in several ways that man, through unaided reason and with certainty, can know of God’s existence as well as many of His attributes. At the same time, however, we also know that a great mysteries such as the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Real Presence are beyond the finite intellectual powers of man to understand. Simply put, some of the truths of our faith, upon which our salvation depend, are beyond the capacity of man’s finite intellect to discern. As put forth by St. Thomas Aquinas, it is therefore “necessary for the salvation of man that certain truths which exceed human reason should be made known to him by Divine Revelation” (STh, I, Q. 1, art. 1).
At the same time, St. Thomas goes on to explain that even “the truth about God such as reason could discover, would only be known by a few, and that after a long time, and with the admixture of many errors.” In other words, even what man is capable of knowing through reason alone will not be equally known by all and, in fact, may be misunderstood or not known at all by some. As such, God’s Revelation serves not only to enlighten us with truths we could not otherwise come to know, but also allows us to more clearly and definitively understand the truths we can know by reason.
On top of that, an important consideration to take into account is that the intellectual gifts and talents, the time available for thought and study, and many other factors vary widely from individual to individual.
Clearly, then, we are dependent on God’s Divine Revelation — and our response to His revealed word is faith. As Fr. Hardon puts it, “Faith and Revelation are related as cause and effect. God reveals Himself and, if we respond, we believe. His Revelation, therefore, implies God’s awareness of the limitations of our mind.” We believe by faith when we accept as fact things definitively taught by Scripture, Sacred Tradition, or the Church’s magisterial teaching that cannot be verified by sense experience, scientific methods, or logic alone. Faith and reason, then, are both ways of knowing — they are “like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth” (Pope John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, Preamble). Furthermore, faith and reason are complementary; there is nothing in Revelation that is inconsistent with reason.
The First Vatican Council took up the topic of faith and Revelation and in 1870 promulgated the Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, or Dei Filius (DF). It does a masterful job of explaining the relationship between reason, Revelation, and faith. For the purposes of bringing additional clarity to our current considerations, one section is well worth quoting in detail:
“The divine mysteries, by their very nature, so far surpass the created understanding that, even when a revelation has been given and accepted by faith, they remain covered by the veil of that same faith and wrapped, as it were, in a certain obscurity, as long as in this mortal life we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, and not by sight. Even though faith is above reason, there can never be any real disagreement between faith and reason, since it is the same God Who reveals the mysteries and infuses faith, and Who has endowed the human mind with the light of reason. God cannot deny Himself, nor can truth ever be in opposition to truth. The appearance of this kind of specious contradiction is chiefly due to the fact that either the dogmas of faith are not understood and explained in accordance with the mind of the Church, or unsound views are mistaken for the conclusions of reason” (DF, chapter 4).
So why did God choose to reveal Himself to us? In a word, His only motive was love: “It pleased God, in His goodness and wisdom, to reveal Himself and to make known the mystery of His will” (CCC, n. 51). In His great love, God wished to make mankind “capable of responding to Him, and of knowing Him, and of loving Him far beyond their own natural capacity” (CCC, n. 52). In other words, He wants us to have everything necessary to satisfy the natural desire for happiness that is written into our hearts. For left on our own, without God’s supernatural Revelation and aid, attaining the final end for which we were created would be impossible.

+    +    +

(Don Fier serves on the board of directors for The Catholic Servant, a Minneapolis-based monthly publication. He and his wife are the parents of seven children. Fier is a 2009 graduate of Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology. With the full blessing of Raymond Cardinal Burke, Fier is doing research for writing a definitive biography of Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Trump to Drop Transgender Bathroom Mandate

Obama’s controversial mandate attempted to force schools to let boys into girls’ locker rooms WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) – President Donald Trump is expected to revoke Obama’s transgender bathroom mandate insisting that students be allowed in opposite-sex bathrooms and locker rooms. The…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke is ‘de facto’ suspended, claims Knights of Malta condom promoter

February 21, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Knights of Malta official at the center of controversy over the Order’s Catholic identity and sovereignty says its patron, Cardinal Raymond Burke, has been “de facto” suspended. Albrecht von Boeselager, a German aristocrat, was…Continue Reading

Cardinal Zen says ‘naïve’ Pope and bad advisors are betraying underground Church in China

February 21, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Joseph Zen says the Vatican is betraying Catholics living their faith out clandestinely in China. In an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews, he says he has been urged to speak out by Catholics who lack…Continue Reading

Cardinal Zen on dubia: ‘Very respectful request by those bishops and Cardinals to have a clear statement’

February 20, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Joseph Zen in an interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo expressed his support for the four Cardinals’ dubia that asks for clarification on the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia’s chapter 8. “I suppose it is a…Continue Reading

These Catholic parishes openly celebrate LGBT. Why aren’t bishops stopping it?

January 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – As controversy continues to rage over Pope Francis’ doctrines on communion for the divorced and remarried, an even more controversial practice proliferating in the shadows for decades is becoming increasingly open and explicit: same-sex couples…Continue Reading

Michael J. Novak, Jr. [1933 – 2017]

Theologian, public intellectual, and close friend of the Acton Institute, Michael J. Novak Jr., passed away last night on February 17, 2017. Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico reflects on the passing of his friend and mentor Michael Novak,…Continue Reading

Twitter erupts with dubious reaction to Cardinal Cupich’s post on marriage document’s ‘absolute clarity’

February 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Chicago Cardinal Blasé Cupich tweeted Tuesday that Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia document was in full fidelity with the Catholic Church and absolutely clear in the expression of its teaching on marriage, but users of the…Continue Reading

More essential than ever for Catholic hospitals to maintain distinct identity: Cardinal Burke

Catholic health-care institutions are needed today more than ever, Cardinal Raymond Burke told a conference on Catholic hospitals in Ohio last week. “Our country suffers the scourge of an attack on the dignity of human life,” the cardinal said. He…Continue Reading

Council of Cardinals pledges allegiance to Pope Francis

ROME, February 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – In an odd note without explanation placed on the Vatican’s daily press briefing today, the Council of Cardinals, a group of 10 Cardinals which Pope Francis has delegated to work with him on reform,…Continue Reading

Conference Looks Beyond ‘Crisis’ of Catholic Colleges, Debunks ‘Land O’ Lakes Statement’

The day after an historic and widely-covered March for Life, presidents from four Newman Guide colleges and Cardinal Newman Society president Patrick Reilly presented on the future of Catholic higher education at the “CRISIS: Catholic Higher Education and the Next…Continue Reading

Top Restaurants Will Sell Cookies to Raise Money for Planned Parenthood Abortion Business

A handful of Chicago restaurants are baking cookies and selling them through Feb. 24, with the proceeds benefitting the abortion group Planned Parenthood, the Chicago Eater reported.

Roman Catholic Church of Philippines Criticizes Duterte’s Bloody Drug War

The Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines slammed President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs in a sermon read out during Sunday’s services, marking its strongest opposition yet to a flagship policy that has led to the deaths of more…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

San Diego’s Catholic bishop urges citizens to be ‘disruptors’ and ‘rebuilders’ in Trump era

Even before the White House announced stricter immigration policies Tuesday, there were signs of opposition. Addressing people “of all faiths and no faith,” San Diego’s Roman Catholic bishop on Saturday urged Americans to be “disruptors” and “rebuilders.” Donald Trump, Bishop Robert McElroy noted, had campaigned for the presidency as “the disruptor.” “Well now,” McElroy told almost 700 community organizers and social justice advocates meeting in Modesto on the weekend that “we must all

Washington D.C. Becomes 6th Place in the U.S. to Legalize Assisted Suicide

A Washington, D.C. law allowing doctors to prescribe their patients lethal drugs to commit suicide went into effect Saturday after U.S. Congress failed to block the measure, the Washington Times reports. The district is the sixth area in the U.S. to legalize the deadly procedure, following Oregon, Washington state, Vermont, California and Colorado. The D.C. council passed the law at the end of 2016, despite wide-spread opposition from African Americans, people with disabilities, medical professionals,…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke urges massive U.S. crowd to defend faith amid Church confusion

cburk12

LENEXA, Kansas, February 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The façade of Cardinal Raymond Burke as a boogeyman of tradition projected by his critics and the media was nowhere to be found last Friday when he gave his usual clear witness to the Catholic faith before an overflow crowd in the Kansas City area. Cardinal Burke delivered a stirring, clear message on defending the Catholic faith amid the current confusion in the Church that was embraced with…Continue Reading

Again More Questions than Answers . . . MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS ON THE OCCASION OF THE WORLD MEETINGS OF POPULAR MOVEMENTS IN MODESTO

Dear Brothers and Sisters, First of all, I would like to congratulate you for your effort in replicating on a national level the work being developed in the World Meetings of Popular Movements. By way of this letter, I want to encourage and strengthen each one of you, your organizations, and all who strive with you for “Land, Work and Housing,” the three T’s in Spanish: Tierra, Trabajo y Techo. I congratulate you for all…Continue Reading

U.S. House votes to overturn Obama regulation forcing states to fund Planned Parenthood

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The  U.S. House of Representatives voted 230 to 188 today to overturn former President Obama’s “eleventh hour” HHS rule forcing states to give Title X money to organizations that commit abortions. Title X money comes from the government to fund “family planning services,” but technically not abortion. Before he left office, Obama pushed through an HHS regulation that essentially forces states to give Planned Parenthood Title X

A Movie Review… Stalin’s Bitter Harvest

By REY FLORES Bitter Harvest is a powerful film; but where do I begin to tell you about it? The first 11 minutes give us the background of the main characters who are shown enjoying somewhat of the last vestiges of a peaceful and idyllic existence before the Holodomor, which was a deliberate famine created…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101… The History Of Future Dreams

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of the complete series on artificial reproduction, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + “In the year 6565, ain’t gonna need no husband, won’t need your wife, you’ll pick your son,…Continue Reading

Ex-Planned Parenthood Worker . . . Recalls Webcam Abortion Opposition, Sees Hope For Pro-Life Cause

By PEGGY MOEN ST. PAUL — Sue Thayer told her February 15 audience here that “an immediate stopper” in a debate with a pro-abort is this quotation from President Reagan: “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.” Thayer was addressing the Legislative Dinner of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, held here at the…Continue Reading

Reopening The Question Of Women Priests… A Theological Travesty And A Spiritual Tragedy

By JEFFREY MIRUS (Editor’s Note: Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. This commentary first appeared on CatholicCulture.org, and LifeSiteNews featured it on February 13. All rights reserved.) + + + La…Continue Reading

Even As “Assisted Suicide” Looms . . . Ethics Expert Tells How Roe V. Wade Might Be Reversed

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX — “If you want to see what a Roe v. Wade reversal looks like, read Washington v. Glucksberg,” a national expert on medical ethics and the law told a Catholic physicians’ meeting here while he also warned against an accelerating effort to legalize “assisted suicide” in the states. With speculation rising…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

“Get Away, Satan!”

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER First Sunday Of Lent (YR A) Readings: Gen. 2:7-9, 3:1-7 Romans 5:12-19 Matt. 4:1-11 In the readings today, we hear about Adam and Jesus. In the second reading, St. Paul compares the two of them, recognizing that by one sin many became sinners and by one righteous act many became righteous. So, we have the correlation…Continue Reading

Joy And Dismay . . . Greet Cardinal Tong’s Article On China-Holy See Dialogue

By FR. BERNARDO CERVELLERA (Editor’s Note: In the article below, Fr. Bernardo Cervellera evaluates the optimism of Hong Kong’s John Cardinal Tong over a change in the method of appointing China’s bishops and the function of the Patriotic Association. But it is unclear whether it is real change or just nominal — in words only. (Fr. Cervellera notes that underground…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Signs Of Growth At “The Margins” Of The Church

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Why does a young man of 18 years old put on a suit and tie on Sunday morning, leaving his parents and sisters behind, to drive to a more distant parish? To attend the Traditional Latin Mass. I’d noticed him for a few weeks along with our growing Sunday Traditional Mass congregation and met him…Continue Reading

The Meaning Of Original Sin

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 25 Haven’t you met Catholic people who question the gravity of Adam’s sin? They do believe that all humans stem from a single couple, yes, but they find it hard to accept that stealing an apple is such a big deal. Surely God could not be that much offended by that! Such people argue…Continue Reading

The Liturgical Celebration Of The Eucharist

By DON FIER As narrated in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke and in the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, our Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper on the night before He died. Jesus and His apostles had just traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the great Jewish feast of Passover in…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco

By CAROLE BRESLIN Throughout the history of the Church different saints have had special devotions. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Peter Julian Eymard had a great devotion to the Real Presence, and Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco had a deep devotion to the Most Precious Blood. (The Catholic Church recognized this…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Geltrude Caterina Comensoli

By CAROLE BRESLIN (Editor’s Note: Some sources give this saint’s name as Gertrude, but the Vatican’s website calls her Geltrude.) + + + Can there be any nobler calling than to promote adoration of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ really and truly present in the Blessed Sacrament? St. Peter Julian Eymard, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and St.…Continue Reading