Friday 19th December 2014

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

Comment on this Article:

Cardinal Burke . . . “The Church depends on sound Catholic family life, and it depends on sound Catholic families.”

An Interview with Cardinal Burke  On Vatican II Q. Your Eminence, you grew up before the Second Vatican Council. How do you remember those times? A. I grew up in a very beautiful time in the Church, in which we…Continue Reading

Did Pope Francis really say all dogs go to heaven? UPDATED

That nice man, Pope Francis, says you get to see your pets again in Heaven. But Pope Benedict is a mean old Grinch who wants to remove the animals from your Nativity scene Christmas decorations. Oh, really? Please don’t believe…Continue Reading

Catholic Church in Australia links celibacy to child abuse

By Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney, and Nick Squires in Rome 8:04PM GMT 12 Dec 2014 Priests’ vows of celibacy may have led to paedophilia, the Roman Catholic Church in Australia has said, in what is believed to be the first such…Continue Reading

Pope Calls For More ‘Integration’ Of Divorced Catholics, Gays

By Francis X. Rocca Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis said that the Catholic Church must consider various ways to integrate the divorced and civilly remarried in the life of the church — not merely allowing them…Continue Reading

‘I’m not worried’ about resistance, Pope Francis says in new interview

Vatican City, Dec 7, 2014 / 11:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In an interview with the Argentine daily “La Nacion” published Sunday, Pope Francis spoke on a variety of topics, giving specific attention to the ongoing reform of the Roman Curia,…Continue Reading

Catholic Church Severs Ties with Agency over Gay Adoption Ruling

The Catholic Church in Northern Ireland is pulling the plug on a long-standing relationship with the Family Care Society, a Catholic adoption agency, after a judge ruled that all adoption services must be willing to place children with same-sex couples…Continue Reading

Reaction to Chicago archbishop’s remarks on pro-abort pols receiving Communion

n a radical departure from the position of Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Blase Cupich – said to have been handpicked by Pope Francis for Chicago – has presented giving Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians as a positive move. Asked Sunday…Continue Reading

Pope Francis dodges reporter’s question on treatment of homosexuality in Synod’s controversial mid-term report

Since the conclusion of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, reporters around the world have been wondering where Pope Francis stands on the controversial language about homosexuality in the mid-term Synod report.  The opportunity to ask the pope…Continue Reading

Archbishop Cupich Says Yes to Communion for Pro-Abortion Politicians

In October of last year veteran Italian journalist Sandro Magister wrote of the new path that many believed the Church was embarking upon. Magister observed: “In Italy, but not only there, it was the cardinal and Jesuit Carlo Maria Martini…Continue Reading

Francis calls for a change mentality in the Church, easier homilies and flexible times

Francis addresses participants of the International Pastoral Congress on the World’s Big Cities: “Go out and facilitate”, don’t be afraid of multicultural contexts or of proclaiming Jesus DOMENICO AGASSO JR ROME Francis was honest from the start: “I don’t want…Continue Reading

Chaput: It Isn’t Possible To Be Pro-life And Simultaneously Forget The Cries Of The Poor

Interview with the Archbishop of Philadelphia who is preparing to receive the Pope for the World Meeting of Families in September 2015: defending the unborn child is a vital part of the social doctrine of the Church. We need to…Continue Reading

Homosexual Activist Organization in New York Receives Catholic Grant

Washington, DC—The Lepanto Institute issued a report exposing the activities of an organization which received a $35,000 grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).  According to the report, the Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC) launched its…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 . . .

General Audience: Jesus Chose To Come To The World As Part Of A family

POPE700

Vatican City, 17 December 2014 (VIS) – The family is the “great gift that the Lord has given to the world ever since the beginning, when he entrusted to Adam and Eve the mission of multiplying and filling the earth; the gift that Jesus confirmed and sealed in His Gospel”, said the Holy Father during this Wednesday’s general audience, in…Continue Reading

Happy Birthday, Pope Francis!

pope693

(Vatican Radio) There was a festive atmosphere at the weekly General Audience on Wednesday, as Pope Francis celebrated his 78th birthday. As he made his way through the crowds, Pope Francis stopped by a group of seminarians from the Legion of Christ, who offered him a birthday cake, complete with lighted candles. The Holy Father also took the opportunity to…Continue Reading

Pope Francis Recalls His 1st Communion, Says to Remember Catechists

Rome, December 15, 2014 (Zenit.org) Staff Reporter On a visit to a Roman parish Sunday evening, the Pope had lively discussions with various groups from the congregation, including children preparing to receive their First Communion. He told them about his own First Communion 70 years ago. On his arrival at the parish of Saint Joseph all’Aurelio, in the western sector…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Rigidity Is A sign Of A Weak Heart

pope692

(Vatican Radio) The day’s Gospel reading, which relates how the chief priests asked Jesus by what authority He did His works, was the focus of the Pope’s homily on Monday. It is a demand, the Pope explained, that demonstrates the “hypocritical heart” of those people – people who were not interested in the truth, who sought only their own interests,…Continue Reading

Ten Complacent Maxims

By DONALD DeMARCO Mark Strand, Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. poet laureate, passed away recently (November 29, 2014). He was a staunch atheist, declaring that he had never met God and had never been to Heaven. He said: “Although there are a lot of people claiming that God is telling them what to do,…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Abortifacient Brief: Depo-Provera”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 2 of The Facts of Life, “Abortifacients,” e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + Depo-Provera is an injectable contraceptive drug that sometimes has an abortifacient effect. It also possesses…Continue Reading

An Advent Reflection . . . The Very Visible Sin Of Gluttony

By REY FLORES Ever since I can remember, I have always had a problem with the fluctuation of my weight. As a child, my nickname was “Gordo,” which means fat in Spanish. I wasn’t bothered when my own family called me that, but it did bother me when the other school kids would make fun…Continue Reading

Gosnell Filmmakers Reopen Crowdfunding Campaign

By LISA BOURNE (LifeSiteNews) — The producers of the forthcoming Kermit Gosnell “House of Horrors” movie are reopening their crowdfunding campaign after Indiegogo changed its rules to allow campaigns without a deadline. Magdalena Segieda, Phelim McAleer, and Ann McElhinney surpassed their previous crowdfunding goal of $2.1 million earlier this year, and the Indiegogo fundraising site…Continue Reading

The CIA And Its Torturers

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO When the head of the CIA’s torture unit decided to destroy videotapes of his team’s horrific work, he unwittingly set in motion a series of events that led to the release this past week of the most massive, detailed documentation of unlawful behavior by high-ranking government officials and intentional infliction of…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Law Of The Lord

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Feast Of The Holy Family (YR B) Readings: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 Col. 3:12-21 Luke 2: 22-40 Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. In a particular way this refers to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. However, it also refers to all families that are striving to live according to the ways of holiness and truth.…Continue Reading

Pope’s Message For World Day of Peace . . . “No Longer Slaves, But Brothers”

VATICAN CITY (ZENIT) — Here is the text of Pope Francis’ message for the 48th World Day of Peace, which is celebrated on January 1, 2015. For a text with footnotes, go to www.zenit.org. + + + At the beginning of this New Year, which we welcome as God’s gracious gift to all humanity, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World . . . True Joy Awards Intense Preparation For Christmas

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK With the arrival of these days of late Advent, we have already journeyed through the Solemnity of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception and Gaudete, or joy, Sunday. We have taken the opportunity to deepen our love and devotion for our heavenly Mother in celebrating the singular prevenient grace of God that equipped her unique preparation for…Continue Reading

Debunking The Sola Scriptura Myth… Summing Up

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 8 According to Sacred Scripture itself, the Bible is not, and was never meant to be, the only source of divine Revelation and sole rule of faith. Jesus neither wrote anything Himself nor commanded anybody to write. On the contrary, He commanded the apostles to preach, viva voce. He commanded the apostles to preach…Continue Reading

The Canon Of Scripture

By DON FIER For several weeks in this series we’ve been examining how God, in His loving Providence, has made Himself known to us. We’ve discussed the twofold means by which His divine Revelation has been transmitted to mankind — Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture — and how the two together are inseparable elements of a single Deposit of Faith.…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . Blessed Urban V

By CAROLE BRESLIN The year 1309 marked the beginning of the Avignon papacy, under Pope Clement V, who was French. The Popes of Avignon built a papal palace, increasing it in size over the next 70 years. The first crack in the control of the papacy by the French began when Pope Urban V left Avignon to reside in Rome…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Sabbas

By CAROLE BRESLIN Silence. Quiet. The search for peace, serenity, and calm has led many in today’s world to take up Yoga, Eastern mysticism, or life in remote areas to escape the noise of our modern world. This is not a modern quest. The quest for quiet has been with man for millennia. Although St. Anthony the Great (died 356)…Continue Reading

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