Wednesday 24th May 2017

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Man’s Capacity For God

April 26, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By Don Fier

Having considered the Prologue of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) in our previous installment, we will now turn our attention to the first of the Catechism’s four pillars: “The Profession of Faith.” It is the longest section of the CCC, comprising 39% of its total volume, and is foundational for the rest, for it is essential to know God and what He has done before we consider how man can and ought to respond. As is the case for each of the four major parts of the CCC, it is composed of two sections. The first, as expressed by Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, “lays…the foundation of the subject, while the second further develops the particular themes which it embraces.”
The opening section of Part One “expounds revelation, by which God addresses and gives Himself to man, and the faith by which man responds to God” (CCC, n. 14). Its emphasis is on man’s capacity for God.
Before going any further, we should first ask ourselves, “What does it mean to believe? What is faith?” The CCC tells us immediately: “Faith is man’s response to God, Who reveals Himself and gives Himself to man, at the same time bringing man a superabundant light as he searches for the ultimate meaning of his life” (n. 26). Is not man’s search to comprehend the ultimate meaning of life the age-old question that tugs at the heart of each of us? At various points in life, do we not all ask ourselves questions like: “Why am I here?” “What is my purpose in life?” “Where am I going?” Man’s search for the answers to these questions is taken up without delay in Part One of the Catechism.
God has written the natural desire for happiness into the heart of all mankind. St. Augustine tells us, “We all want to live happily; in the whole human race there is no one who does not assent to this proposition, even before it is fully articulated.” But where does happiness lie? So many people have bought into a false definition of happiness — they seek it in the trappings of worldly enticements such as riches, fame, sex, or power. But genuine happiness is not found in any of these things. Here is a telling account by Fr. John Hardon, SJ, which illustrates the stark reality of this truth.
Says Fr. Hardon: “One of the most unhappy men I ever met was in New York State on his square-mile estate. A multimillionaire, he had in the process of amassing so much wealth lost his Catholic Faith. As we drove in his limousine, driven by the chauffeur, through twenty miles of garden, he kept repeating, as he sipped from a glass of cider in one hand and held on in the automobile with the other, ‘This is all for my pleasure, all for my pleasure.’ But I found out from my four hours of conversation with him that he was terribly unhappy.”
True happiness comes only in knowing and loving God, for “God created man in His own image” (Gen. 1:27). Our very nature is such that our minds want to know the truth and our wills desire to be happy. As the Catechism teaches, “Man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to Himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for” (n. 26). After a long search, St. Augustine came to realize this truth and penned the beautiful, often-quoted expression we find in his Confessions: “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.” And Holy Scripture tells us: “As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for You, O God. My being thirsts for God, the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2).
Evidence that true happiness can be found in God alone is readily apparent by observing those who are close to God — happiness and joy virtually radiate from holy, saintly people, even in the midst of great trials and sufferings. Just think of two recently declared blesseds, Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Pope John Paul II. All who encountered them couldn’t help but sense a deep inner peace and joy. However, as St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, “final and perfect happiness can consist in nothing else than the vision of the Divine Essence.” In other words, ultimate happiness awaits the attainment of the Beatific Vision, of seeing God face to face.
Man’s inner yearning for God in the depths of his heart is universally apparent in that he has always been a religious being. “Throughout history . . . men have given expression to their quest for God in their religious beliefs and behavior: in their prayers, sacrifices, rituals, meditations, and so forth” (CCC, n. 27). While it is true that not everyone acts on his religious instincts due to the lure of riches and fame, selfishness, indifference, scandal — in a word, because of sin — the religious tendency and desire for true happiness remain, perhaps deeply buried and ignored. “Although man can forget God and reject Him, He never ceases to call every man to seek Him, so as to find life and happiness” (CCC, n. 30).
The Catechism next takes up the question of whether man can know God by reason alone. Since God is infinite and our intellect is finite and limited, we cannot know God fully. There are mysteries of the faith that are beyond our comprehension that we can come to know only through God’s Revelation. However, the CCC teaches with certitude that we can know of God’s existence and prove certain of His attributes or perfections by natural reason in two ways: the physical world and the human person (n. 31). In fact, the First Vatican Council, convoked in 1868, dogmatically teaches in its Constitution on the Catholic Faith that “Holy Mother Church holds and teaches that God, the source and end of all things, can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, by the natural power of human reason.”
By reflecting on the world of nature created by God, we can come to know Him naturally. Who can behold the wonder and beauty of nature, the changing of the seasons, the stars in the sky, without realizing that there is an Infinite Being, whom we call God? How could there be a universe with such unity and order and so much diversity unless there was a Supreme Intelligent Being, the Prime Mover and First Cause, whom we call God? In a beautiful Easter sermon St. Augustine explained: “The beauty of the Unchangeable Creator is to be inferred from the beauty of the changeable creation.” As Fr. Hardon puts it, “…the beauty, power, wisdom, and goodness in the world are a proof of the beauty, power, wisdom, and goodness of God. He made the world and keeps it in constant existence as a reflection of His own divinity.”
Man can also come to know of the existence of God and furthermore discern he has a spiritual soul through the yearnings and aspirations that are part of his very being. He cannot help but question himself about God’s existence as a result of the “voice of his conscience, with his longings for the infinite and for happiness” (CCC, n. 33). Man’s natural faculties, then, “make him capable of coming to a knowledge of the existence of a personal God” and “can predispose one to faith and help one to see that faith is not opposed to reason” (CCC, n. 35). There is great wisdom in the spiritual axiom: “Faith builds upon and perfects reason” (Pope John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, n. 43).

+    +    +

(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.

Planned Parenthood Closing Multiple Abortion Clinics in Iowa After State Defunds It

The abortion chain Planned Parenthood announced plans Thursday to close four Iowa clinics as a result of a new state law that defunds it. At the end of June, Planned Parenthood facilities in Burlington, Keokuk and Sioux City, Iowa will…Continue Reading

Graduates walk out on Pence at Notre Dame commencement

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Dozens of graduates and family members silently stood and walked out Sunday as Vice President Mike Pence began his address at Notre Dame’s commencement ceremony. Pence, the former governor of Indiana, was invited to speak…Continue Reading

Trump nominates Callista Gingrich for ambassador to the Vatican

President Trump has nominated Callista Gingrich, the wife of former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), as ambassador to the Holy See, the White House announced Friday. The nomination comes just five days before Trump is set to meet with Pope Francis…Continue Reading

The murder case of Blessed Oscar Romero has been reopened

San Salvador, El Salvador, May 19, 2017 / 01:14 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A nearly 40 year-old murder case was reopened this week to properly prosecute the suspected killer behind the Salvadorian archbishop’s martyrdom. Because of an amnesty law that prohibited…Continue Reading

Notre Dame Protest of Pence Twists Catholic Social Teaching

This Sunday, vice president Mike Pence will return to his home state of Indiana to deliver the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame. For the third time in several years, the school’s graduation ceremony will be plagued by…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood is Ditching the Failed “Pro-Choice” Label. Here’s Why

The “pro-choice” label has not been working out so well for the abortion chain Planned Parenthood. The labels pro-choice and pro-life have been used for decades to help identify people’s positions on abortion, but young adults seem to be moving…Continue Reading

Bishop Conley: The Pro-Choice Political Dictatorship of Relativism

In 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would soon be elected Pope Benedict XVI, preached that “we are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and…Continue Reading

These Republicans Voted Against the Bill to Defund the Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz

Republicans in the House of Representatives yesterday voted for a Reconciliation bill that would defund the Planned Parenthood abortion business. This was the second attempt to get enough votes on the reconciliation bill that would not only defund the nation’s…Continue Reading

Cecile Richards Comes Unglued After House Defunds Planned Parenthood: Republicans Hate Women

Planned Parenthood abortion business president Cecile Richards it’s not happy that the House of Representatives voted yesterday to defund Planned Parenthood. The main response of the CEO of the nation’s biggest abortion conglomerate can be summed up in three words:…Continue Reading

Despite pro-life provisions, healthcare bill raises serious concerns

Vatican City, May 4, 2017 / 05:27 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The House passed a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and a replacement health care bill on Thursday, but one bishop warned that the new bill poses serious problems for…Continue Reading

Nine Catholic Colleges to Honor Opponents of Catholic Teaching at Commencement Ceremonies

This spring’s commencement honorees at nine Catholic colleges include pro-abortion politicians, a dissenting priest, and advocates for same-sex marriage, according to The Cardinal Newman Society’s annual review of commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients at more than 200 Catholic colleges…Continue Reading

Matt Walsh: Dear Christians, there’s nothing ‘compassionate’ about helping people get to Hell

I received this email yesterday. The subject line, as you could guess, was “Compassion”: Matt, you call yourself a Christian but you have no compassion. The Jesus I believe in just wants people to be compassionate towards each other. We…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 . . .

Pope Francis Receives US President Donald J. Trump

Pope Francis received President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, today, May 24, 2017, at about 8:30 a.m. in the Apostolic Palace, before Francis’ weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. The meeting was broadcasted by Vatican Television and can be watched via this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVCm1-toVFg According to a statement released by the Holy See Press Office, the discussions, which lasted about 30 minutes, were cordial.

Trump budget completely defunds abortion providers, and Planned Parenthood is furious

May 23, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Pro-abortion feminists are bemoaning and pro-lifers are celebrating President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal that would withhold all federal funds from abortion-provider Planned Parenthood. Breitbart reported yesterday that Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney told the media on Monday that the new budget would defund the abortion business, but only if the new Republican healthcare legislation passed recently by the House is also passed by the Senate and…Continue Reading

Catholic Church Sues St. Louis to Stop It From Becoming a “Sanctuary City” for Abortion

Several Missouri Catholic groups filed a lawsuit Monday challenging a St. Louis ordinance that could force them to hire abortion activists and rent to pro-abortion groups. The Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis, the pro-life maternity home Our Lady’s Inn and a local Catholic businessman said the city ordinance violates their constitutional freedoms. In their lawsuit, they ask the court to block the city from enforcing the measure. In February, the St. Louis Board of Alderman…Continue Reading

Canon lawyer tells diocese to follow guidelines allowing Communion for remarried

May 19, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A canon lawyer told priests at a workshop run by a U.S. diocese that Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia has allowed them to break with the Church’s tradition practice of refusing Communion to “remarried” Catholics. Since the diocesan bishop has not issued his own guidelines on the Pope’s exhortation, the canonist said, the priests can follow the controversial interpretations from the bishops of Malta and Buenos Aires. The workshop was recorded…Continue Reading

Pope Francis announces new June 28 consistory

Vatican City, May 21, 2017 / 04:56 am (CNA/EWTN News).- During his Regina Coeli address Sunday, Pope Francis announced to pilgrims that he will be holding a June 28 consistory to create 5 new cardinals he said represent the “catholicity” of the Church. “Brothers and sisters, I wish to announce to you that Wednesday, June 28, I will hold a consistory for the nomination of 5 new cardinals,” the Pope said May 21, adding that…Continue Reading

A Movie Review… “Outcasts” And True Social Justice

By REY FLORES “A bold example of social justice in action” — Follow the cameras of Grassroots Films, the Award-Winning producers of The Human Experience and Child 31, on an unexpected journey across the globe. Travel to the prisons of Central America, walk the dark city streets of London, New York, and Ireland’s most treacherous…Continue Reading

Kentucky Printer Can Refuse LGBT Message

LEXINGTON, Ky. — A Kentucky Court of Appeals ruling on May 14 affirmed a printer who objected to promoting a message for Lexington’s Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) which conflicted with his sincerely held religious beliefs. Hands On Originals’ managing owner, Blaine Adamson, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, refused to print T-shirts for the…Continue Reading

No Help For Minor Children… Gender Confusion Prevails In The Courts

By DEACON MIKE MANNO (Editor’s Note: Deacon Mike Manno, an attorney, is director of deacons for the Diocese of Des Moines and host of Iowa Catholic Radio’s Faith On Trial program [www.iowacatholicradio.com]. He can be reached at deaconmike@iowacatholicradio.com.) + + + This month the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a Ninth…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic… Conservatism, Economics, Social Welfare, And Catholic Social Teaching

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly, sometimes bimonthly. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Pragmatism Revisited

By JUDE DOUGHERTY Putnam, Hilary, and Ruth Anna Putnam. Pragmatism as a Way of Life: The Lasting Legacy of William James and John Dewey. Edited by David Macarthur. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017. xi + 475 pp. Cloth, $49.95. This book consists of twenty-seven essays, thirteen by Ruth Anna Putnam, eleven by Hilary Putman,…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Canonization Mass For Jacinta And Francisco . . . Pope Francis Says: “Dear Pilgrims, We Have A Mother”

(Editor’s Note: Pope Francis on May 13 canonized Jacinta and Francesco Marto, as the highlight of his May 12-13 Apostolic Pilgrimage to Fatima. Below is the Vatican translation of the Pope’s homily during the Mass, as provided by ZENIT News Agency. (It is followed by the text of Pietro Cardinal Parolin’s homily at the vigil. Earlier at the vigil, the…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… 25th Ordination Jubilee Solemn High Mass And Celebration

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK (Editor’s Note: The staff of The Wanderer congratulates Fr. Cusick on his upcoming 25th anniversary of Ordination.) + + + Thank you for reading my column so faithfully over the years and for all that you have done to support the apostolate of The Wanderer. As we mark the 25th anniversary of my June 6,…Continue Reading

Our Savior And Redeemer… More On The Gabirah, The Queen Mother

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 8 St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, in his celebrated book True Devotion to Mary, explains that our Lady is not only the Mother of Christ, the Mother of God Incarnate, but she is also the spiritual Mother of All Christians, of all those who are baptized into the Church founded by her Son. He…Continue Reading

The Sacraments Of Healing

By DON FIER When we began our examination of the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) on the seven sacraments several months ago, it was noted that they are often grouped into various categories: sacraments of the living and of the dead; sacraments of initiation, healing, and vocation or service; sacraments that can be received only once…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I find the following passages in the Gospels puzzling. When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and they asked Him if He was Jesus the Nazorean, He replied, “I told you that I AM. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” John says that “this was to fulfill what he…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Peter Sanz And Companions

By CAROLE BRESLIN In 1748, the Viceroy of Peking with great frustration asked, “What are we to do with these men? Their lives are certainly irreproachable. . . . Their jailers and their families become their disciples and embrace their religion. To prolong this state is only to give them the opportunity of increasing the number of Christians.” Thus Peter…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Pope St. Celestine V

By CAROLE BRESLIN After the death of Pope St. John Paul II, faithful Catholics rejoiced at the election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as the next Vicar of Christ. The German prelate took the name of Benedict XVI for two reasons: in memory of Pope Benedict XV who led the Church during the turbulent times of World War I, seeking peace…Continue Reading