Wednesday 29th July 2015

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

Comment on this Article:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Catholic officials, others react to Boy Scouts’ decision to allow openly gay leaders

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The top leaders of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting have made an uneasy peace with the Boy Scouts of America’s decision July 27 to allow openly gay troop leaders and employees to serve in their ranks…Continue Reading

The Remnant REALLY? . . . Is This How We Support Fellow Catholics Battling A Cause We Should All Be Behind?

Planned Parenthood Hires PR Firm to Run Damage Control After It’s Exposed Selling Aborted Babies

The Planed Parenthood abortion business is so desperate to put out the public relations fires that have developed in the wake of it being caught numerous times selling the body parts of aborted babies that it has hired a top…Continue Reading

More than Half of Young Catholic Families Are Latino Despite Recent Decline

More than half of young Catholic families (53 percent) identify themselves as Latino or Hispanic compared with 32 percent of all Catholics, according to a recent survey. Could the presence of Hispanic families in the Catholic Church indicate Latino congregational…Continue Reading

New York Catholic churches closing after decades of service

Parishioners in New York are losing their churches as the Catholic Archdiocese carries out an aggressive consolidation plan. The cuts are driven by declining membership, fiscal insolvency of churches, and fewer priests, according to church officials. While there are 2.8…Continue Reading

Kenyan President to Obama: You Will not Impose The ‘Gay Rights’ Agenda In Kenya

We need to speak frankly about these things” says President Kenyatta in response to Obama’s statement that Kenya must share the same values as the United States on sodomite rights issues. Kenyatta, at the press conference this morning in Kenya,…Continue Reading

Nancy Pelosi: Ignore Planned Parenthood Selling Aborted Babies, Investigate Pro-Lifers

nancyp

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has no interest in digging deeper into the revelations that the Planned Parenthood abortion business is selling the body part of aborted babies Instead, she wants the Obama administration to investigate the pro-life activists who…Continue Reading

Carly Fiorina to Planned Parenthood: You Deny Ultrasounds to Show Women Life Within Them, but Use Ultrasounds to Preserve Organs of Their Dead Babies

Venezuela’s bishops caution against the adoption of no-fault divorce

The Venezuelan bishops last week warned that marriage and families in their nation will be weakened as a result of a court decision ruling that spouses can divorce without any evidence of wrongdoing on either’s part , Christian Telegraph reports…Continue Reading

Rationing? Obamacare Health Care Plans Have 34 Percent Fewer Doctors, Hospitals

According to the Washington Examiner, a new study reveals that Obamacare plans have 34% fewer doctors and hospitals than other health insurance plans. The information was released today by Avalere Heath and proves that exchange networks actually provide fewer heart…Continue Reading

Cdl. Vincent Nichols to Expand LGBT Ministry

WESTMINSTER, July 21, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) – Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the Catholic bishops conference of England and Wales, is pushing to expand the Church’s ministry to those in the LGBT community. Monsignor Keith Barltrop, parish priest of St. Mary…Continue Reading

LA gets three new auxiliary bishops, including Fr. Robert Barron

Los Angeles, Calif., Jul 21, 2015 / 07:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Known for his online videos which tackle everything from the saints, to the “new atheism,” to the latest blockbuster film, Fr. Robert Barron will have a new responsibility: auxiliary…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

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis: Multiply good works like the loaves and fishes

pope113

(Vatican Radio) Before the recitation of the Marian Prayer before the faithful in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis recalled Sunday’s Gospel about the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes. The Pope explained that “Jesus satisfies not only material hunger, but the most profound of hungers, the hunger for meaning in life, the hunger for God.” He went on to say that  “in the face of suffering, loneliness, poverty and difficulties of so many people,…Continue Reading

How PPFA Manipulates Women Into “Donating” Their Babies’ Organs

By DAVE ANDRUSKO (Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted with permission from National Right to Life News Today, July 15, 2015. All rights reserved.) + + + We’ve discussed at some length a shocking hidden-camera video in which two undercover investigators are shown discussing with a high-ranking PPFA official how these supposed “procurers” of fetal tissue could work with Planned Parenthood affiliates to harvest intact baby body parts. I would also like to talk about…Continue Reading

Analyzing The Heterodoxies Of The “Shadow Council”

By MAIKE HICKSON As some readers might recall, on May 25, 2015, the presidents of the German, Swiss, and French Bishops Conferences had organized a private conference at the Gregorian University in Rome. This “Shadow Council,” as it soon was called, was criticized for its secrecy and obliqueness. The suspicion arose that this meeting was intended for preparing some revolutionary strategies and argumentation in order to promote the liberalizing agenda at the upcoming October 2015…Continue Reading

In the meeting on climate change and modern slavery, the Pope warns against the idolatry of technocracy

Vatican City, 22 July 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon Pope Francis greeted the participants in the meeting “Modern slavery and climate change: the commitment of cities” and in the Symposium “Prosperity, people and planet: achieving sustainable development in our cities ”, held in the Vatican’s Casina Pio IV by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, whose chancellor is Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo. The events were attended by the mayors of major cities, local administrators and various…Continue Reading

Aggressive Obama, Passive National GOP . . . Is Third-Party Option Starting To Look Better?

By DEXTER DUGGAN House Speaker John Boehner said the recently released sting video of a national Planned Parenthood official at lunch, munching away and chatting about how to “crush” unborn babies to harvest their organs for money, was “disgusting.” Republican Boehner finally seemed to have found his voice in a Washington where he usually blends…Continue Reading

Is This What Determines Our Position On Common Core?

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK The mail that we receive at First Teachers is overwhelmingly opposed to Common Core, the federal government’s effort to establish education standards for the country. Certain of our correspondents object to what they see as a liberal bias in Common Core’s curriculum, while others object to what they believe are confusing…Continue Reading

When Trump Talks, People Should Listen

By REY FLORES How many of you recall the old E.F. Hutton television commercials where everyone on an airplane would stop and listen to one man when he says, “My broker is E.F. Hutton, and E.F. Hutton says….” The voiceover would then state: “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.” Donald Trump can do the same…Continue Reading

Thinking About The Church And Our Lives As Catholics

By PHILIP TROWER (Editor’s Note: This essay is an abridged version of a 2009 talk Philip Trower gave to the David Foster Summer School in England.) + + + I want this evening to share some thoughts with you about what being a Catholic has come to mean to me since I was received into…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Like A Prophet Warning Of A Nightmare

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child, by Anthony Esolen (Intercollegiate Studies Institute: Wilmington, DE, 2015); 222 pp. Available through www.isibooks.org. When many hear the word compulsion, they think of a totalitarian society or a state of imprisonment or associate the word with some addiction like drugs…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World . . . Like Love, Assent To Faith Is A Matter Of The Will

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Reaction to my column last week titled “Where Is There Room to Disagree With Jesus? In Hell!” included the following note from a Facebook follower. Kim wrote, “Perhaps the question posed to you was not worded correctly. How about this onea. . . . Is there a line where Catholic teachings are not something Catholics…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course . . . Why Is The Gospel Message Unique Among Religions?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 12 In this series of articles on apologetics, we have followed a logical sequence, moving from the simpler to the more complex. So, first we saw how it makes sense that truth is objective, and not subjective; that is, our minds do not create the truth, they learn it, discover it, and grasp it from…Continue Reading

The Four Marks Of The Church — Catholicity

By DON FIER Part 3 As we continued to examine the third mark of the Church last week, that she is catholic (or universal), we saw that all mankind is called to belong to the one true Church, the new People of God. Christ’s clear mandate to His apostles was to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. In our parish it is a custom following the final blessing at Mass for the priest to lead the congregation in a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel and a Hail Mary. This past Sunday during that prayer, I was reminded of the tradition in the late 1940s and the 1950s to offer prayers for the conversion of Russia following…Continue Reading

Put On The New Self

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15 Eph. 4:17, 20-24 John 6:24-35 In the second reading today St. Paul calls his Ephesian converts to a deeper conversion, emphatically stating: “I declare in the Lord.” He could not have used any language that would have been stronger to make his point. And what…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Martha

By CAROLE BRESLIN A popular pilgrimage among the Catholics of southern France takes visitors to the Grotte de la Sainte-Baume, located in the hills of Provence about 20 miles east of the port of Marseilles. To reach this holy site, the driver must cover miles of winding, ascending roads to the foot of the mountain. Then the pilgrim ascends a…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Bridget

By CAROLE BRESLIN One of St. Teresa of Calcutta’s most quoted sayings would fit with this column’s saint, “God hasn’t called me to be successful. He has called me to be faithful.” What encouraging words for anyone seeking to do God’s will, knowing that the cross, the setbacks, and the obstacles are all part of working for the Kingdom of…Continue Reading