Monday 28th July 2014

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

Comment on this Article:

The Church Needs To Stop Taking Government Money

by ELISE HILTON on FRIDAY, JULY 25, 2014 Phil Lawler at CatholicCulture.org voices what should be obvious: that by taking federal money and grants, the Catholic Church has put herself in a very awkward place. Money from the government always comes with strings attached,…Continue Reading

U.S. Considering Refugee Status for Hondurans

By FRANCES ROBLES and MICHAEL D. SHEARJULY 24, 2014 Hoping to stem the recent surge of migrants at the Southwest border, the Obama administration is considering whether to allow hundreds of minors and young adults from Honduras into the United States without making…Continue Reading

Marco Rubio To Take On Abortion and Gay Marriage in Catholic U Speech

Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) plans to take on social and cultural issues in the latest installment of his policy speeches outlining a new conservative agenda. “Senator Rubio will discuss the values needed for economic success in the 21st century: values like…Continue Reading

USCCB Chairmen Respond To ‘Unprecedented and Extreme’ Executive Order

The executive order prohibits “gender identity” discrimination, a prohibition that is previously unknown at the federal level, and that is predicated on the false idea that “gender” is nothing more than a social construct or psychological reality that can be…Continue Reading

Dallas-Fort Worth Catholic leaders appeal for legal help in border crisis

Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell (center) and Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson on Monday asked for volunteers to assist with a “humanitarian crisis.” By DIANNE SOLÍS Staff Writer dsolís@dallasnews.com Published: 21 July 2014 10:32 PM Updated: 22 July 2014 12:21 AM Dallas Catholic…Continue Reading

Iraq Catholic leader says Islamic State worse than Genghis Khan

By Dominic Evans and Raheem Salman BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The head of Iraq’s largest church said on Sunday that Islamic State militants who drove Christians out of Mosul were worse than Mongol leader Genghis Khan and his grandson Hulagu who…Continue Reading

CHRISTIAN HOLOCAUST UNDERWAY IN IRAQ, USA AND WORLD LOOK ON

When U.S. troops invaded Iraq in 2003, there were at least 1.5 million Christians in Iraq. Over the last ten years, significantly in the last few months with the emergence of ISIS, that figure has dropped to about 400,000. In a…Continue Reading

Vancouver Catholic Schools Adopt Transgender Policy

James Keller, The Canadian Press Published Wednesday, July 16, 2014 7:20PM EDT Last Updated Thursday, July 17, 2014 7:24AM EDT VANCOUVER — Catholic schools in Vancouver have adopted a policy that could allow transgender students to use the pronouns, uniforms…Continue Reading

New Catholic Bishops Say Civil Disobedience OK If For Common Good

Newly appointed auxiliary bishops, two Catholic clergymen suggest Occupy Central could be just, while third weighs in on reform report St Two auxiliary bishops newly appointed by the Vatican have spoken out about the Occupy Central campaign, saying the church supports…Continue Reading

Skeptics And The Claims Of The Catholic Church Seventeen Reasons Scoffers Ought To Rethink Catholicism, If They Really Thought About It

July 11, 2014 05:09 EST By Thomas M. Doran In today’s world, isn’t it crazy to appeal to scoffers to consider Catholicism? Why would a rational modern man or woman in the 21st century be attracted to what the world and…Continue Reading

The Obama Administration’s Border-Crisis Plan B: Use the Catholic Church

The federal government reaches out to a California diocese to help shelter illegal immigrants in California. By Ryan Lovelace In order to avoid future clashes with the citizens of Murrieta, Calif., over attempts to transfer illegal immigrants there, the Obama administration has turned to…Continue Reading

A New Low For Liberals: Attacking Catholic Nuns Over Hobby Lobby

I’m a big fan of absurdity in politics. But even absurdity has its limits, and the National Organization for Women has surpassed it in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision inBurwell v. Hobby Lobby. As part of its full-throated…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 in Caserta: “Say No To Corruption And Lawlessness”

pope500

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday evening called the people of Caserta to have the courage “to say no to corruption and lawlessness” during an afternoon visit to the city, located in the Campania region of southern Italy. He celebrated Mass the Square in front of the Royal Palace of Caserta, which used to a residence of the King of…Continue Reading

Will John Roberts Decide A “State” Is Not A “State”?

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY The Supreme Court may soon need to decide whether the federal government can be considered a “state” in our federal republic in the same sense that Iowa, Wyoming, and Wisconsin are states. On the face of it, this question may seem absurd. In fact, given any level of reflection, it is…Continue Reading

Assisted Suicide In England… Life And Death Under Debate

By FR. JOHN FLYNN, LC (Editor’s Note: Fr. Flynn is a columnist for ZENIT News Agency, which provided this commentary. All rights reserved.) +    +    + A bill to legalize assisted suicide has been introduced into Britain’s House of Lords by Lord Falconer, previously lord chancellor under Labor Prime Minister Tony Blair, and it is…Continue Reading

Anglican Women Bishops — An Obstacle To Unity?

By FR. DWIGHT LONGENECKER (Editor’s Note: Fr. Dwight Longenecker is an American who has spent most of his life living and working in England. He studied theology at Oxford University. He was eventually ordained as an Anglican priest and served as a curate, a school chaplain in Cambridge, and a country parson on the Isle…Continue Reading

Homosexuality And The Future Of Marriage

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. The commentary below is reprinted with permission from his blog at johnkippley.com. All…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Profile: Girls Scouts Of America”

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 this article with footnotes, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) +    +    + We’ve all had little girls in uniform appear on our porches selling Girl Scout cookies (with watchful mothers standing…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Is The Rosary A Prayer Of “Vain Repetitions”?

By RAYMOND de SOUZA, KM Part 4 The Pharisee and the publican — improvised prayer and repetitive prayer: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and began to pray thus within himself: ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of men,…Continue Reading

The Characteristics Of Faith

By DON FIER Faith, or the obedience of faith, was characterized in last week’s installment on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) as man’s most fitting and proper response to God’s self-revelation. Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, concisely defines this assent to all God has revealed as “the free submission to God’s Word because its truth is guaranteed by…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. Jesus says that we are to learn from Him, He who is meek and humble of heart. But Jesus was not always meek and humble of heart. He talked back to the Scribes and Pharisees, He drove the moneychangers out of the Temple, He talked back to the Sanhedrin, He wasn’t bashful about claiming to be the Son of…Continue Reading

Jesus Walks Through Trials With Us

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 55:1-3 Romans 8:35, 37-39 Matt. 14:13-21 In the second reading today St. Paul asks the question of what can separate us from the love of Christ. He then gives a few examples of what people might think will separate us from God; anguish, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness,…Continue Reading

Anglophone Conference On Sexual Abuse . . . “The Entire Church Is Called To Put Right What Has Happened”

By MOST REV. DIARMUID MARTIN ROME (ZENIT) — Below is the full text of an address given by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin on the issue of clerical sex abuse. The address was given July 7 at the Anglophone Conference, which took place at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome. The Anglophone Conference takes place annually and its purpose is to address relevant…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Alphonsus Liguori

By CAROLE BRESLIN Part 1 Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, having read the works of St. Alphonsus Liguori, took him as a mentor. It is not surprising, then, that Fr. Hardon taught his students, “If you are not encountering the cross, you are not doing God’s work.” Such were the lives of saints such as St. Teresa of Avila, St.…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Benedict

By CAROLE BRESLIN Every month the Apostleship of Prayer publishes the intentions of the Holy Father: one for a universal intention and one for an evangelical intention. In June 2014, the evangelical intention was that Europe may rediscover its Christian roots through the witness of believers. The advent of Christian civilization coincided with the advent of Western civilization. The Benedictine…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