Sunday 24th September 2017

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

The Characteristics Of Faith

February 21, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

Part 2

In last week’s installment, we began an examination of the characteristics of faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) first pointed toward the all-important truth that faith is a grace (see CCC, n. 153). Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, using the classic formulation of St. Thomas Aquinas, expresses it as follows: “Divine faith is an act of the intellect, assenting to the divine truth by command of the will moved by God through grace” (The Faith, p. 36). The Catechism then asserts that believing is “an authentically human act…[by which] the human intellect and will cooperate with divine grace” (CCC, nn. 154-155). Next, we discussed motives of credibility — actions by which God “bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles” (Heb. 2:4) to assist our ability to believe without acting blindly or impulsively. These miraculous divine actions are yet another example of God’s divine condescension — ways by which He stoops to our level, adapting to man’s finite intelligence (cf. CCC, n. 156). Finally, it was shown that faith is certain, that there is no room for doubt (cf. CCC, n. 157).
We will now embark on a discussion on how man has built into his rational nature an innate desire to seek to understand that which he comes to believe through faith. St. Anselm of Canterbury, a 12th-century Benedictine monk and doctor of the Church, put forth in his famous work, the Proslogion, that “faith seeks understanding.” As skillfully expressed in the Catechism, “it is intrinsic to faith that a believer desires to know better the One in Whom he has put his faith and to understand better what He has revealed” (CCC, n. 158). It stands to reason that a cyclic phenomenon will begin to occur: The more one knows about one’s God and Creator, the stronger one’s faith will become; as one’s faith becomes stronger, the more one will desire know God; and so forth.
It is similar to the relationship between knowing and loving God which was discussed in one of the first articles of this series: By loving God, one wants to know more about Him; by coming to a fuller knowledge of God, one desires to love Him all the more; and the cycle continues.
Turning now to Sacred Scripture, we can see how St. Paul prays with insistence that our understanding be increased — that “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, . . . and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power in us who believe, according to the working of His great might” (Eph. 1:17-18).
As St. Augustine profoundly expressed in the fifth century when he described his relentless search for truth, “I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe” (Sermo, 43:9). For this great saint, as can be discerned in reading his Confessions, it was reason that initially set him on a path toward God, but it was faith that informed and elevated what he could grasp intellectually and ultimately brought him to the fullness of the Catholic faith. The more he came to believe, the more he sought understanding.
The Catechism next addresses faith and science. An erroneous current of thought that pervades much of society in today’s world, especially in technologically advanced countries, is one of rationalism. Fr. Hardon, in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, defines rationalism as “a system of thought or attitude of mind which holds that human reason is self-sufficient and does not need the help of divine Revelation to know all that is necessary for a person’s well-being” (p. 456).
It is a train of thought which claims that only what can be demonstrated through scientific methods, proven with empirical techniques, and/or understood by reason is to be held as true. What this thought process fails to admit is that faith is above reason — that there exists an omnipotent God who is the Author and Master of all creation. While it is true that faith and reason can never contradict one another (see CCC, n. 159), it is also eminently true that many of the revealed truths of an infinite God transcend what can be known by reason alone.
As articulated in the First Vatican Council document Dei Filius (DF), “there can never be any real disagreement between faith and reason . . . nor can truth ever be in opposition to truth (DF, chapter 4 §§ 5-6). And as stated in the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes (GS): “If methodical investigation within every branch of learning is carried out in a genuinely scientific manner and in accord with moral norms, it never truly conflicts with faith, for earthly matters and the concerns of faith derive from the same God” (GS, n. 36 § 1). As Dr. Peter Kreeft so astutely states: “There are thousands of truths that make up the Catholic Faith and billions of truths that the sciences have discovered; yet there is not a single real contradiction between any two of them” (Catholic Christianity, p. 26).
A warning (and perhaps a digression), however, is in order. If mankind disrespects or blatantly ignores the Law of God and acts as if created things do not depend on the Creator, chaos and calamity will surely ensue: “For without the Creator the creature would disappear” (GS, n. 36 § 2). Is this not precisely an ever-increasing danger in today’s world, a world in which basic Christian tenets and moral values are often removed from the public square? Pope Benedict XVI has repeatedly warned of the dangers of a Godless society. In his 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate (CV), the Holy Father stated that “a humanism which excludes God is an inhuman humanism” (CV, n. 78).
Now, let’s consider an example where some contend that faith and reason contradict one another — the theory of evolution. Once again, I cite Dr. Peter Kreeft: “The doctrine of creation does not say how or when God made man’s body ‘of the dust from the ground’ (Gen. 2:7); and the theory of evolution…does not say how souls were made, only bodies….Nor does evolution say where the very first matter that began to evolve came from” (Catholic Christianity, pp. 26-27).
Fr. Hardon, in The Catholic Catechism, states that “theologians have come to agree that…the evolution of the first man’s body from a lower species is compatible with the Faith. Two provisos are added, however: that the soul was immediately created by God out of nothing, and that somehow God exercised a special providence over whatever process preceded the origin of man’s body, so that the first man was not literally generated by a brute beast” (p. 93).
In his 1950 encyclical Humani Generis (HG), Pope Pius XII stated that the Church’s Magisterium does not forbid the theory of evolution “in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter — for the Catholic Faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God” (HG, n. 36). In other words, Pius XII affirms that scientists may investigate the hypothesis that the body of the first man came from pre-existing life; however, the human soul is not the product of any evolution. Pope Benedict XVI more recently stated in 2007 that the theory of evolution cannot be proven — that it “implies questions that must be assigned to philosophy and that in and of themselves lead beyond the scope of the natural sciences” (Creation and Evolution, pp. 161-162).
In closing this discussion on faith and understanding, I draw upon Fr. Hardon’s answer to the question: “Are we to understand our faith?” Says Fr. Hardon, “Yes, with God’s grace and our own effort we are to grow in our understanding of what we believe. Of course, we shall never fully understand or comprehend God’s Revelation. We have a duty to grow in our grasp of the meaning of what we believe. Otherwise, as Christ warns us in the parable of the sower, we run the risk of losing our faith” (The Faith, p. 37).

+    +    +

(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. He is doing research for writing a definitive biography of Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

blogger

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

21 Sep 2017

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics for which he provided his illuminating insights are the Message of Our Lady of Fatima, an appraisal of the situation in which the Church finds herself in contemporary times, and the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy. (This interview appeared in three parts in The Wanderer in August 2017.) + + + Part 1 Q. We are in the midst of…Continue Reading

Bishop Schneider: priests must resist pressure on Communion for remarried

Bishop Schneider said that priests should ‘lovingly and respectfully’ tell their superiors that they cannot abandon the Church’s perennial teaching Bishop Athanasius Schneider has said priests have to follow the Church’s constant practice on Communion, even if their bishops and…Continue Reading

Popular priest disinvited from Catholic University’s seminary after protests over his LGBT book

The Rev. James Martin, a popular priest who published a book earlier this year encouraging a bridge between the LGBT community and the Catholic Church, has been disinvited from giving an address at Catholic University’s seminary. Martin, who was planning…Continue Reading

Latin Mass fans celebrate 10-year anniversary _ without pope

Fans of the old Latin Mass descended on Rome on Thursday for their annual pilgrimage, facing indifference to their cause, if not outright resistance, from none other than Pope Francis. Ten years after Pope Benedict XVI passed a law allowing greater use of…Continue Reading

Pro-gay Vatican adviser gets Catholic group suspended from Twitter

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A faithful Catholic lay apostolate was suspended by Twitter last week after Vatican adviser Father James Martin complained about a tweet that teasingly stated the pro-gay Jesuit had been bested in a theological…Continue Reading

Durbin, Feinstein and Catholic judges

Washington is currently embroiled in one of its “gotcha” controversies, which often arise when minor missteps are blown into major crimes. It’s a game both parties and a variety of activists play whenever they see political advantage in it. The…Continue Reading

Pope issues new directives on revision, translation of liturgical texts

Vatican City, Sep 9, 2017 / 08:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy See has released a new “motu proprio” from Pope Francis outlining a shift in the responsibility of local bishops and the Apostolic See for the revision and approval…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke ‘treasured’ work with deceased dubia Cardinal to oppose ‘gravely harmful confusion’

ROME, September 6, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke paid tribute today to fellow dubia signer Cardinal Carlo Caffarra on his passing after a long illness. In a statement to LifeSiteNews, Burke said he was “deeply saddened” by the 79-year-old’s…Continue Reading

Some Personal Reflections on the Late Cardinal Caffarra

As Steve Skojec reported this morning, our beloved Cardinal Carlo Caffarra died today, in Italy. Our hearts are broken over this news since he was such a lovable and charitable and truthful man for us. Just to know that he was out…Continue Reading

Remarks by President Trump at Signing of Day of Prayer Proclamation

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Americans have always come to the aid of their fellow countrymen.  Friend helping friend, neighbor helping neighbor, stranger helping stranger — we’ve seen it perhaps more so than at any time, so vividly at…Continue Reading

Bishop Schneider: The Pope who ‘seems to’ permit adultery bears a ‘grave responsibility’

POLAND, August 31, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia “seems to” go in the direction of a pastoral “discernment” that “allows the adulterers to continue in adultery,” says Bishop Athanasius Schneider. The consequences for many could be…Continue Reading

REPORT CARD: Faithful college praised for financial aid; Praying for Notre Dame; ‘Pride Prom’ at Marquette

With college affordability becoming an increasingly prominent (and problematic) issue, Thomas Aquinas College’s recognition by The Princeton Review’s national Financial Aid Honor Roll is especially refreshing. “We are pleased that, once again, The Princeton Review has featured Thomas Aquinas College in its annual guide,”…Continue Reading

JEFFERSON CITY’S CATHEDRAL SCHOOL RESISTS LGBT POLICY

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (ChurchMilitant.com) – The flagship school for the diocese of Jefferson City has updated its handbook with clear Catholic instruction to counter the LGBT agenda being foisted on schools. Just in time for the new school year, St. Joseph…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

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Cardinal Burke: ‘urgency’ to resolve dubia ‘weighs very heavily on my heart’

PARRAMATTA, Australia, September 22, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Two of the four dubia Cardinals seeking moral clarity from Pope Francis over his controversial teachings on marriage and family have died. But this will not stop the remaining two cardinals from continuing the “important work of resolving the dubia,” said Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the dubia signers, in a new interview. In a wide-ranging interview with the Diocese of Parramatta’s Catholic Outlook, Burke said the “urgency of…Continue Reading

Pope: “Doctrine” does not come before mercy

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “The door that leads to encounter with Jesus is recognizing ourselves as we are, the truth. Sinners. And He comes”. “I want mercy and not sacrifices” said Pope Francis at Mass this morning at Casa Santa Marta, commenting on the gospel song of the day recalling the conversion of St. Matthew to return

Pro-Life Speaker Ben Shapiro Answers Pro-Abortion Student’s Question With an “Epic Takedown”

Popular conservative author and speaker Ben Shapiro continued to impress his audience Thursday at UC Berkeley when he rapidly refuted a young man’s abortion arguments. Shapiro’s speech at the liberal California university drew massive media attention because of the violent protests that have broken out on campus during past conservative speakers’ talks. The university and local police increased security, and several people were arrested Thursday. Inside the sold-out auditorium, Shapiro received a huge applause when…Continue Reading

Cardinal Sarah: Reverent liturgy is essential to fighting the culture of death

ROME, September 15, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – One of the chief antidotes to a world “marked by the blight of Godless terrorism, of an increasingly aggressive secularism” and an “advancing culture of death” is to restore primacy to God in the Catholic liturgy, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said Thursday. The cardinal was speaking to an international gathering of cardinals, priests, religious and laity at the Fifth Roman Colloquium on Summorum…Continue Reading

Pope to new bishops: ‘Discernment’ means avoiding ‘rigid’ answers to moral questions

ROME, September 14, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis told a group of newly ordained bishops that “authentic discernment” cannot be reduced to repeating “rigid” moral formulas to persons whose situations “can’t be reduced to black and white.” Discernment, the pope said, “can’t be reduced to repeating formulas such as ‘high clouds send little rain’ to a concrete person, who’s often immersed in a reality that can’t be reduced to black and white.” He cautioned bishops…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

Poetic Insight

By JUDE P. DOUGHERTY “Poet — lawyer — planter, and former soldier” is the description Walker Percy gives to his uncle, William Alexander Percy, the author of Lanterns on the Levee, reprinted by the Louisiana State University Press in 2011, from a 1973 edition. William Percy’s book is worth revisiting not simply for its observations…Continue Reading

A Book Review … Reflections On Our Lady’s Message Of Fatima

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Fatima and the Triumph of Mary: Reflections on the Fatima Message, by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, (World Apostolate of Fatima, 2016); 228 pages, $17.95 available via:http://giftshop.wafusa.org/browse.cfm/4,2578.html. Fatima and the Triumph of Mary is a compilation of articles by Fr. Andrew Apostoli which originally appeared in the World Apostolate of Fatima USA…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Dispelling The False Images Of God

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN The Light Shines on in the Darkness: Transforming Suffering through Faith, by Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ, Ph.D. (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2017), 543 pp. $19.95. Available from www.ignatius.com or 1-800-651-1531. For anyone who struggles to make sense of human suffering or to reconcile the unconditional love of God with the weight of…Continue Reading

Who Were The Colombian Martyrs Beatified By Pope Francis?

By ELISE HARRIS ROME, Italy (CNA/EWTN News) — During his six-day visit to Colombia, Pope Francis beatified martyrs Bishop Jesus Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve and Fr. Pedro Maria Ramirez Ramos, who provide testimony as the country heals from decades of conflict. Bishop Jaramillo was killed by Colombian Marxist guerrilla forces in 1989, while Fr. Ramirez was…Continue Reading

20 State Attorneys General Lauded… For Opposing Pro-Abortion Judge Orrick’s Gag Order Against CMP

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX — “It is definitely very encouraging, and it’s great news” that 20 state attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to oppose the gag order against videos by pro-life investigators, an official with one of the law firms representing David Daleiden and the California-based Center for Medical…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Sacrament Of Holy Orders

By DON FIER Several months ago when we began our consideration of the seven sacraments, it was noted that they can be subdivided into various categories (see volume 148, n. 32; August 13, 2015). The authors of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) chose to present them according to a threefold classification: sacraments of Christian initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. At Our Lady’s July 1917 appearance at Fatima, she stated that a war greater than World War I would break out during the pontificate of Pope Pius XI. Ambrogio Ratti chose the name Pius XI when he became Pope in 1922. No doubt Our Lady knew he would be known as Pius XI, but why didn’t she say “the…Continue Reading

The Radical Call To Follow Christ

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Sixth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Ezek. 18:25-28 Phil. 2:1-11 Matt. 21:28-32 In the second reading today, St. Paul says we are to have in us the same attitude as Christ. As we continue through the reading we can see the attitude of Christ is marked by humility, obedience, and charity. This essentially repeats…Continue Reading

Professor Josef Seifert… Amoris Laetitia’s “Immense Threat” To The Moral Teaching Of The Church

By MAIKE HICKSON (Editor’s Note: In light of Professor Josef Seifert’s recent essay examining some of the dangerous logical consequences of Amoris Laetitia — an essay for which he was dismissed from his teaching position by the archbishop of Granada — Dr. Maike Hickson of OnePeterFive.com reached out to the Austrian philosopher to ask him some additional questions about not…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Can Division In Worship Bring Unity Of Faith?

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Pope Francis has given authority through a new motu proprio, Magnum Principium, issued this month, to local bishops’ conferences to approve translations of the liturgy from Latin into local languages. By doing so he hopes to accomplish a couple of things. First, as we know by now Pope Francis places full trust and confidence in…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Thomas Villanova

By CAROLE BRESLIN Our Lord drew amazing men and women from the population of Spain to protect that country from the ravages that swept through Germany and the Scandinavian countries in the Reformation era. Two events marked by Augustinian monks sparked these events. In Germany, an apostate Augustinian monk who fell from grace led hundreds of thousands into error —…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Simon De Rojas

By CAROLE BRESLIN The subject of this article lived in a time of great saints, great Spanish saints, so it is not surprising that he is little known. St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) who wrote the Spiritual Exercises, St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) who reformed the Carmelites and wrote The Interior Castle, and St. John of the Cross who wrote…Continue Reading