Monday 27th June 2016

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

God Comes To Meet Man

May 3, 2014 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

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher: Men for our season

The Church of the Little Flower is blessed today to receive relics of two great English saints: one, St. Thomas More, was a statesman, an intellectual, a Catholic layman who took his baptism seriously; the other was a bishop who…Continue Reading

Catholic Bishops Blast Obama Admin for Forcing Churches to Pay for Abortions

The leading pro-life spokesmen for the Catholic bishops are blasting an Obama administration decision revoking federal protection for chruches in California forced to pay for abortions. As LifeNews reported, churches in California are officially subject to an onerous state regulation…Continue Reading

Church Leaders React to Supreme Tie on DAPA/DACA

Catholic leaders from around the country were expressing disappointment today in response to a Supreme Court tie vote that effectively terminates Obama administration initiatives on immigration that shielded millions from deportation. Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, described…Continue Reading

Catholic universities must insure abortion, Obama administration rules

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 22, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The Obama administration has ruled against two Catholic universities, upholding a rule issued by the state of California requiring all employers to cover elective abortions in their insurance plans – even if the…Continue Reading

Progressive Catholic groups publish “Pope Francis” voter guide

While the IRS revoked the non-profit status of the George Soros-subsidized Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG) in October 2013 for failing to file a form 990 for three consecutive years, the organization recently re-emerged with a progressive…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Most Catholic marriages are null, some ‘cohabitations’ are ‘real marriage’

June 17, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis spoke yesterday at a pastoral congress on the family for the Diocese of Rome, and his remarks are causing consternation among faithful Catholics. In off-the-cuff remarks, the pope made the dual claim that…Continue Reading

From Fox News . . .Enough is enough, Pope Francis should resign

By Adam Shaw ·Published June 17, 2016 · FoxNews.com Pope Francis’s three-year-old papacy, marred by controversy from the beginning, has hit a new low. After Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected to succeed Pope Benedict XVI in 2013, he quickly justified his…Continue Reading

Florida Bishop Blames Orlando Massacre on Catholic ‘Contempt’ for Homosexuality

The Catholic Bishop of St. Petersburg, Fla, has blamed Catholic disapproval of homosexual acts for the brutal slaughter of 49 people in the Pulse nightclub on Sunday. In a blogpost Monday, Bishop Robert Lynch said that Catholicism “targets” and “often…Continue Reading

WATCH: Congresswoman Blasts Sales of Aborted Baby Parts in Explosive Speech Filled With Evidence

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler gave a recent speech on the flood of the House of Representatives blasting the sales of aborted baby parts. The member of the special panel investigating Planned Parenthood and the sales of aborted baby parts provided shocking…Continue Reading

Transgender bathroom debate: Lawmakers in Massachusetts pass bill allowing use of restrooms based on gender identity

The Massachusetts’ House of Representatives has passed a bathroom bill on Wednesday that will allow transgenders to use restrooms according to their gender identity. Voting 116-36, lawmakers passed the bill despite protests from people who went to the House to…Continue Reading

Bishop Schneider: Pope’s exhortation will lead to practice that ‘trivializes and profanes … three sacraments’

June 7, 2016 (Voice of the Family) — Bishop Athanasius Schneider has made his strongest comments yet on the “real spiritual danger” posed by the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. The bishop said that the document contains expressions that are “objectively…Continue Reading

Kasich admin gives Planned Parenthood waiver to continue abortions in defiance of state law

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 2, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Cincinnati can continue performing abortions, despite the fact that it is breaking state law, because Gov. John Kasich’s administration issued a waiver. On Friday, Ohio Department of…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  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 145 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

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

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Today . . .

Papal press conference touches a host of issues

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis spoke on the Armenian genocide, the relation of the Church to homosexuals, and Britain’s vote last week to leave the European Union, as well as a host of other topics in a wide-ranging press conference on his flight back to Rome following his Apostolic Voyage to Armenia. Sunday’s in-flight press conference began with questions about the Apostolic Voyage to Armenia that Pope Francis had just concluded. Asked about his message for…Continue Reading

Pope Francis arrives in Armenia

popef99

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis arrived in Armenia’s capital Yerevan at 12.55 pm Rome time on Friday 24th June to begin his 14th apostolic journey abroad. Armenia is a landlocked mountainous nation which borders with to the west Turkey, to the East Azerbaijan, to the north Georgia and to the South Iran. He was warmly welcomed by the President of the nation’s Republic Serzh Sargsyn and the Catholicos of All Armenia Karekin II. Also present were…Continue Reading

Thomas Aquinas and the Art of Making a Public Argument

taqun

Zenit.org June 22, 2016•Bishop Robert Barron I would like to revisit a time when people knew how to have a public argument about the most hotly-contested matters … There is, in many quarters, increasing concern about the hyper-charged political correctness that has gripped our campuses and other forums of public conversation. Even great works of literature and philosophy – from Huckleberry Finn and Heart of Darkness to, believe it or not, Kant’s Critique of Pure…Continue Reading

Pope: All of Amoris Laetitia is ‘sound doctrine’; ban the death penalty

Francis doubles down on Amoris Laetitia In the wake of substantial criticisms of his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis has stated that “everything” written in the document is “sound doctrine.” The remarks are especially pertinent in light of the first critical observations on the exhortation issued by Raymond Cardinal Burke which stressed that parts of the document were the Pope’s personal opinion and not to be taken as magisterial. Speaking at the opening of…Continue Reading

Valencia’s Card. Cañizares persecuted for defending nature, common sense against “gender theory”, homosexualist agenda

I was in Spain recently, having breakfast – as one does – and, while munching the ubiquitous toast with tomato looked up at the TV only to see a discussion of Card. Canizares Llovera and the trouble he was in for giving what sounded like a really good sermon in Valencia. I shot a photo of the screen… it I can find it… Since then the Cardinal’s problems have multiplied. BTW… he had the nickname…Continue Reading

The First Canonized Saint . . . A Milestone In The Saintly Process

By RAY CAVANAUGH When asked to name a few saints, chances are that “Ulrich” will be overlooked. St. Ulrich (also known as Udalric) of Augsburg is an obscure figure, and, as far as saints go, there isn’t anything especially compelling at this point about his life as a 10th-century Bavarian bishop. Ulrich — whose feast…Continue Reading

The Fine Art Of Gibberish

By DONALD DeMARCO Gibberish is not restricted to merely speaking unintelligibly. It can be fine-honed into the art of saying something that seems to make sense, but makes no sense whatsoever. The success of gibberish depends on how the mere sound of words can have a mesmerizing effect on the listener, even though they do…Continue Reading

“No Fly, No Buy” Means No Freedom

By JUDGE ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO The people in the government who want to control our personal choices are the enemies of freedom. And the enemies of freedom can be very clever and seductive. This past week, these folks, manifesting their lust to keep us dependent upon the government by rejecting the natural right to self-defense,…Continue Reading

Islam & The West: Irreconcilable Conflict?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN On Saturday night, June 11, Omar Mateen was a loner and a loser. Sunday, he was immortal, by his standards, a hero. Mateen had ended his life in a blaze of gunfire and glory. Now everybody knew his name. He had been embraced by ISIS. His face was on every TV…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101… “The First Time Around: Euthanasia In Nazi Germany”

germ2

By BRIAN CLOWES Conclusion (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.) + + + Step 2: Dehumanization The first…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Christ Preaches Ideals And So Must His Church

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK (Editor’s Note: Because of its timeliness, Fr. Cusick’s column appears on the front page this week, instead of its usual place on p. 2B. In that spot we are reprinting an article by Fr. John Flynn, LC, on “Parenthood in an Age of Surrogacy.”) + + + “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes…Continue Reading

The Marvel Of The Catholic Church… The Heroes Of Jesus Christ — The Martyrs!

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 6 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). No other people have proved their love for Jesus Christ more than the Catholic martyrs. From the Colosseum during the first three centuries of pagan persecution to today’s Islamic persecution in many countries, from…Continue Reading

Liturgical Seasons And Cycles

By DON FIER As we continued our consideration of “how the liturgy is celebrated” last week, we saw that sacred art (along with sacred music) plays a prominent role in our worship of God. In his 1999 Letter to Artists, Pope St. John Paul II highlighted its importance by saying: “In order to communicate the message entrusted to her by…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I just want to ask what James J. Drummey’s qualifications are for answering the questions that subscribers ask. Does he have a title or does he consult with an authority on these issues? — K.C., via e-mail. A. My qualifications for writing the Catholic Replies column for the past 25 years include reading, studying, pondering, praying, writing, speaking, and teaching…Continue Reading

Take Up Your Cross

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fourteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Isaiah 66:10c-14 Gal. 6:14-18 Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 In the Gospel reading today we hear about the seventy-two men the Lord had sent out ahead of Him. He had given them authority to heal people and to expel demons. That sounds great, but when one actually sees it happen…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Mother Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala

By CAROLE BRESLIN Which basilica in the country of Mexico has been visited by both Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Francis? The Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan. Like Our Lady of Guadalupe, the story of Our Lady of Zapopan begins in the year 1531. Beginning in 1531, the same year that Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. John Francis Regis

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the late 16th century, Calvinism began to make significant advances in the Catholic population of France. More and more Catholics left the faith, or simply stopped going to Mass and practicing their faith. Then God sent a man to the French who preached tirelessly and then spent hours in the confessional, helping the penitents return to…Continue Reading

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading