Wednesday 24th September 2014

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:

Will Catholic bishops annul Pope Francis’ marriage reform initiative?

VATICAN CITY ( RNS) Pope Francis has appointed a special commission to look at ways to make it easier for Roman Catholics to dissolve their marriages in the eyes of the church. The goal of the 11-member commission announced Saturday…Continue Reading

Spinning the Synod

Here are five misleading claims and skewed statements about the upcoming Synod of Bishops Carl E. Olson Here’s a word that hasn’t been used much in recent discussions about the approaching Battle of the Cardin—er, the Synod of Bishops, taking…Continue Reading

Archbishop Coakley: Though City Leaders Do Not Take Seriously Threat of Inviting Evil Into Community, I Do

Washington, D.C., September 18, 2014 (Zenit.org) Here is an article from the Sooner Catholic, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, regarding the black mass scheduled at the city’s civic center for this Sunday. Archbishop Paul Coakley has used…Continue Reading

Report: Bishop Cupich of Spokane to succeed Cardinal George in Chicago

The AP broke the story, and local media is now confirming, that Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane will succeed Cardinal Francis George as archbishop of Chicago. The Archdiocese of Chicago is expected to make the official announcement tomorrow morning at…Continue Reading

Sources confirm Cardinal Burke will be removed. But will he attend the Synod?

Sources in Rome have confirmed to LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s highest court, known as the Apostolic Signatura, is to be removed from his post as head of the Vatican dicastery and given a non-curial…Continue Reading

Catholic Education Honor Roll Announced

Today, The Cardinal Newman Society released the list of schools recognized by the Catholic Education Honor Roll as 2014 Schools of Excellence. Since 2004 the Honor Roll has celebrated quality Catholic education throughout the United States. Honor Roll schools receiving…Continue Reading

Hermeneutic of Continuity: Pope Benedict XVI’s 10 Step Guide to Vatican II

pope200

In 2005 His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI gave a Christmas address to the Roman Curia that sparked a “Holy Revolution.” The good pontiff’s comments were received as “epoch-making” by many of those faithful to Sacred Tradition.1 At the heart of…Continue Reading

Satanists Sell Out Controversial Oklahoma ‘Black Mass’ Event, Will Stage Exorcism Despite Christian Protests

The Satanist group that will stage a controversial “black mass” at an Oklahoma City civic center has said that all 88 tickets for its Sept. 21 event are sold out. The co-founder of the group revealed that the ritual will…Continue Reading

Catholic League Bowing Out Of New York’s St. Patrick’s Parade

NEW YORK –  The Catholic League says it will sit out next year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York because parade organizers aren’t letting an anti-abortion Catholic group march. Catholic League head Bill Donohue said Thursday that his organization…Continue Reading

Catholic Cardinal McCarrick Embraces Islam

Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick offered Islamic religious phrases and insisted that Islam shares foundational rules with Christianity, during a Sept. 10 press conference in D.C. “In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate,” McCarrick said as he introduced himself…Continue Reading

MURDER OF CATHOLIC NUNS SHOCKS WORLD

The triple murder of three elderly Italian religious sisters in Burundi has their religious family and the local community reeling. The Italian Foreign Ministry has confirmed Monday’s death of a third missionary, Sister Bernadette Boggian, who wasdecapitated, according to a…Continue Reading

Cardinal Dolan and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade

by Hon. Bob Marshall Sept. 8, 2014 New York’s Cardinal Dolan, appointed as Grand Marshal of the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade, praised the decision to allow an openly gay group to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “I have…Continue Reading

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 subscribe 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

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope Francis’ Message for 2015 World Day of Migrants and Refugees

pope361

“Migration movements call us to deepen and strengthen the values needed to guarantee peaceful coexistence between persons and cultures.” Vatican City, September 23, 2014 (Zenit.org) “Church Without Frontiers, Mother to All” is the theme for the next World Day of Migrants and Refugees to take place 18 January 2015. Here below is the full text of the message made public…Continue Reading

Pope To Albania’s Faith Leaders: Religion Is Source Of Peace

pop527

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with leaders of the different religious communities in Albania on Sunday afternoon, insisting once again that no-one can use the name of God to commit violence. Speaking at the Catholic University of Tirana, the Pope said “Authentic religion is a source of peace and not of violence….To kill in the name of God is a…Continue Reading

The Logic Of Birth Control Vs. The Logic Of Human Nature

By JOHN F. KIPPLEY (Editor’s Note: John F. Kippley is the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality and other books and articles. With his wife Sheila, he is a coauthor of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach and cofounder of NFP International.) + + + Peggy Noonan recently wrote two…Continue Reading

The Forever War

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN The strategy that President Obama laid out September 10 to “degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL,” is incoherent, inconsistent, and, ultimately, non-credible. A year ago, Obama and John Kerry were straining at the leash to launch air strikes on Syrian President Bashar Assad for his alleged use…Continue Reading

Marriage Is Not A Metaphor

By DONALD DeMARCO I passed through the metal detector at the Las Vegas Airport easily and uneventfully. While waiting for my wife, who was the inconvenient recipient of a more thorough random check, I turned to the attendant and told her that I was surprised to pass through the metal detector so quietly since I…Continue Reading

Reconnecting With Mary… Our Lady Of La Salette

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Part 1 This is the first of two articles on the apparition of our Lady at La Salette in September 1846, which has a lot to teach us in our own day. At that time, the small nearby town of Corps, in the Grenoble region in southeastern France, was a poor…Continue Reading

The Saint Who Was Never Born

By DONALD DeMARCO St. Raymond Nonnatus came into the world in the early 13th century (1200 or 1204 according to scholars) in Portello, Catalonia (Spain). His appended name, in Latin, means “not born.” He was taken from the womb of his mother by caesarean section after her death. Shakespeare used this notion of not being…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Love Has No Limits In Faith And In Life

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK We have done a very good job of catechizing our Catholics that Sunday Mass is obligatory. Now we need to educate them that Sunday Mass is not the only thing necessary. For many years I would nod in agreement when people would say, “Well, at least if we can get our kids to Mass they’ll…Continue Reading

Priestly Celibacy: Unnatural? Or . . . Supernatural? The Faith Of The Early Christians

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 5 It is a very comfortable position for the defenders of sola Scriptura to wish to interpret it according to their own criteria. In so doing, they pick and choose verses here and there to justify their views. God’s first commandment to mankind, “Be fruitful and multiply,” seems to be the “dogma” against celibacy.…Continue Reading

Catechesis In The Twenty-First Century

By Don Fier “In order to arrive at a systematic knowledge of the content of the faith, all can find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a precious and indispensable tool. It is one of the most important fruits of the Second Vatican Council.” With these words in his apostolic letter Porta Fidei announcing the upcoming Year of Faith…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I am currently reading Paul Likoudis’ excellent but shocking book Amchurch Comes Out, regarding incidents of immoral conduct among our clergy, the cover-up, and the accompanying damage that has been wrought within the Church. I recall being alarmed while involved with religious education in our then parish in the late 1980s and attending diocesan seminars for teachers and hearing…Continue Reading

Our Attitude Should Be The Same As Christ’s

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 Gospel reading today our Lord asks the question of which son did the will of his father: the one who said he would not go into the field but eventually did or the one who said he would go…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes… Saints Cosmas And Damian

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the last book of the Old Testament, 2 Maccabees, we read of the mother who stood by her seven sons, encouraging them to hold true to the law of their fathers and not give in to the attempts of Antiochus IV Epiphanes to get them to abandon their faith by eating the flesh of a swine…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Joseph Of Cupertino

By CAROLE BRESLIN Now that the school year has begun, students — especially Catholic students — will find recourse to their favorite patron saint of studying. Some may choose St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine of Hippo. For those students who find it difficult to retain what they read and write about it, perhaps this saint will encourage them: St.…Continue Reading

What to Do If Your Boyfriend Wants You to Get an Abortion?

by Krisi Burton Brown | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 2/20/14 4:00 PM Washington, DC (LiveActionNews) — Note: This article is for any girl or woman who is feeling pressured into having an abortion. If you are a guy who is trying to find out how to stop an abortion, please see this article written for dads. 1.  Stand your…Continue Reading

It’s Time to Build Schools, from the Ground Up

February 13, 2014 by Anthony Esolen   It might have been worth repairing, if it had once been noble and beautiful, or at least conceived in an orderly way, for ordinary human purposes. But it wasn’t. It was constructed upon false principles. Its walls looked like those of a bad factory. It smelled like a warehouse. It could be terribly…Continue Reading

Why I am Pro-Life

February 4, 2014   Pro-Lifers   By Therese Recinella   Editor’s note. This tribute was posted on Therese Recinella’s Facebook account. She is graciously allowing us to reprint it in NRL News Today.   There are many things that I could say about my Dad, but what I want people to know is this: My parents faithfully raised 8 children…Continue Reading

Fathers . . . The Essential Role of the Father

Posted on February 10, 2014 by The Catholic Gentleman 13 Comments   Divorce rates skyrocketing; adultery rampant; non-married cohabitating couples; children abandoned by their fathers or mothers; “same-sex unions” adopting children and calling this the “modern family”; pornography invading homes, leading to powerful addictions and total alienation from other members of the family: all of this is a bird’s eye view…Continue Reading

How Much is One Billion Dollars?

This article appeared in the March 20, 1941 issue of The Wanderer. (Well, 70 years later we can add 15 trillion into the example.) Here’s a simple and homely illustration of what one billion dollars amounts to: Suppose we take an imaginary boy, aged 15 years, and assign to him the task of counting one billion dollars in one-dollar bills.…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood

This article appeared in The Wanderer, April 3, 1941.  (WOW, Look what we have 70 years later.) A group which calls itself the National Committee for Planned Parenthood has begun a nationwide campaign to have the promotion of birth control included in State and national health programs. The committee—which, according to propaganda sheets reaching our desk has a branch in…Continue Reading

Questions of Non-Catholics . . . Answered by Father Richard Felix, O.S.B.

Reprinted from The Wanderer April 10, 1941 Why Does God allow us to be tempted? God allows us to be tempted so that we may prove our attachment to him and merit a higher place in heaven. Temptations are the lot of all men; they are the battle ground upon which heaven is won or lost. “The kingdom of heaven…Continue Reading