Thursday 3rd September 2015

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

The Characteristics Of Faith

August 2, 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:

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 . . .

Good News . . . Brief update on Father John Corapi

A bit of good news to share: A reliable source has informed me that Father John Corapi, a popular priest among orthodox Catholics who departed public life after a tumultuous period a few years ago, remains in the priesthood and…Continue Reading

9th Shocking Video: Planned Parenthood Sells Intact Aborted Babies, One “Just Fell Out” of the Womb

The Center for Medical Progress released a new video this morning — the 9th in its series of videos catching the Planned Parenthood abortion business selling aborted babies and their body parts. This latest video catches a Planned Parenthood medical…Continue Reading

All priests will be able to forgive sin of abortion during Jubilee for Mercy

September 1, 2015 7:33 AM Vatican City, Sep 1, 2015 / 06:33 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a new set of pastoral guidelines for the upcoming Holy Year of Mercy Pope Francis has made some significant moves, allowing all priests to…Continue Reading

Cardinal Francis Arinze: 50 years as a Bishop

Yesterday Saturday 29 August 2015, Francis Cardinal Arinze, 82, marked fifty years as a Bishop. In an interview with Vatican Radio’s English Africa Service to mark to the milestone, Cardinal Arinze was in high spirits. Although now retired and living…Continue Reading

Russians to construct ‘the tallest statue of Jesus Christ in the world’

Towering 80 meters monument to ‘Christ the Teacher’ by Zurab Tsereteli to find home in Vladivostok, Christian Telegraph reports according to RISU. The statue was cast in 2013 by Tsereteli, the famous Georgian-Russian sculptor, known for his gigantic projects such…Continue Reading

If You Still Support Planned Parenthood, You Are Simply Not A Decent Person

Another Planned Parenthood video has been released. I promised I would write about every new video that comes out, so here is my write up on the latest. Please read and share. I don’t usually ask you to share things…Continue Reading

“Catholic” Group Sends Cakes to Thank Planned Parenthood Staff After It Sells Aborted Babies

Apparently, Catholics for Choice want their friends at Planned Parenthood to know how appreciated they are since they will be “harassed” tomorrow at the protests across the country regarding their organ harvesting business.  As LifeNews previously reported, tens of thousands…Continue Reading

Facebook’s very (very) suspicious ‘trending’ Planned Parenthood story

Update Aug. 20, ’15 at 7:54 AM EST: I woke up this morning, and lo and behold, the “trending” news topic had changed. It now reads, “7th video critical of organization released by anti-abortion group.” That’s more like it. I…Continue Reading

Questions raised after pro-life activist Twitter accounts suspended without warning: one now restored

ONTARIO, August 20, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — A pro-life activist campaigning against Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s abortion extremism as well as a pro-life organization on a mission to show the violent reality of abortion through large graphic billboards had their Twitter…Continue Reading

Archbishop Cordileone thankful for San Francisco teacher contract agreement

San Francisco, Calif., Aug 23, 2015 / 06:07 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Efforts to promote Catholic culture in the San Francisco archdiocese’s high schools and to agree on a contract acceptable for the schools’ teachers concluded on Wednesday with a new…Continue Reading

Catholic Priests’ Forgotten Flock: Catholic Men

The New Emangelization Project has documented that a key driver of the collapse of Catholicism in the U. S. is a serious and growing Catholic “man-crisis”.[1] One third of baptized Catholic men have left the faith and the majority of…Continue Reading

Shortages in Venezuela mean priests are running out of Hosts

Caracas, Venezuela, Aug 15, 2015 / 03:33 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Venezuela’s ongoing economic crisis has hit the Church in a unique way: the production of Hosts fell 60 percent during the past month, affecting three states in the South American…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: The astonishment at the encounter with Jesus

(Vatican Radio) The capacity to recognize ourselves as sinners opens us to the astonishment at the encounter with Jesus: that was the message of Pope Francis Thursday morning during Mass for the feast of Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church. Pope Francis’ homily focused on the day’s Gospel reading which tells the story of the miraculous catch of fish. After working throughout the night without catching anything, Peter, trusting in Jesus,…Continue Reading

General Audience: love of family combats city desertification

(Vatican Radio) An estimated 15 thousand people were in St Peter’s Square for the Pope’s General audience on Wednesday, as he continued his catechesis on the family, which this week focused on the importance of families in spreading the faith. The Holy Father underlined that by creating the foundations of a solid faith in the home, the fruits are revealed in a more humane society. The Pope said that the alliance of the family with…Continue Reading

Saints Will Welcome Families, Pope to Philadelphia

St. John Neumann Was Bishop of the City and St. Katharine Drexel Was Born Here United States of America, August 31, 2015 (ZENIT.org) Staff Reporter When Pope Francis and thousands of families arrive next month to Philadelphia, they are sure to be welcomed by two saints with ties to the city. Fr. Thomas Rosica, English-language assistant for the Vatican press office, has compiled the following biographies: * * * ST. JOHN NEPOMUCENE NEUMANN, C.SS.R. (1811-1860)…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Angelus appeals for persecuted Christians, migrants

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued a twofold appeal on Sunday: for persecuted Christians and for all persons forced to flee their homes in search of a peaceful and secure existence in foreign lands. Recalling the beatification on Saturday in Harissa, Lebanon, of the martyred Syrian Catholic Bishop Flavyānus Mikhayil Melkī, Eparch of Gazarta – or what is Cizre in modern-day Turkey, who was killed in Gazarta during the sayfo or “putting to the sword” of…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . This Belongs On Every Catholic Pro-Lifer’s Bookshelf

By REY FLORES Redeemed by Grace — A Catholic Woman’s Journey to Planned Parenthood and Back by Ramona Trevino with Roxane Salonen. Ignatius Press: 2015; hardcover, $17.95; 157 pages. To order, visit ignatius.com or call 1-800-651-1531. Almost anyone who is either Catholic or involved in the pro-life cause has heard of Abby Johnson. Johnson, of…Continue Reading

Reconnecting With Mary . . . The Sabbatine Privilege

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY We recently celebrated, on July 16, the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which, according to tradition, is associated with the giving of the Brown Scapular to St. Simon Stock on that date in 1251. The Blessed Virgin appeared to him with the scapular saying, “This will be for you…Continue Reading

Is Trumpism The New Nationalism?

By PATRICK BUCHANAN Since China devalued its currency 3 percent, global markets have gone into a tailspin. Why should this be? After all, 3 percent devaluation in China could be countered by a U.S. tariff of 3 percent on all goods made in China, and the tariff revenue used to cut U.S. corporate taxes. The…Continue Reading

The Family Synod’s Instrumentum Laboris Presents Many Grave Problems

By MAIKE HICKSON After reading the Instrumentum Laboris (working document) for the upcoming October 2015 Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, when it was first published in June, the author of this short article was somewhat stunned and increasingly troubled. Yet I was soon helped by others to acquire a better understanding. It is…Continue Reading

Syrian Apocalypse

By JOHN J. METZLER UNITED NATIONS— Syria continues to descend into the inferno while the international community stands transfixed. A political solution seems elusive as ever, the civil war grinds on having killed over 250,000 people, and more than twelve million people have fled their homeland. Alarmed by these developments, the UN Security Council has…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Take Up Your Cross

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Isaiah 50:5-9a James 2:14-18 Mark 8:27-35 Faith is a great gift and, given the times in which we live, it is more necessary than ever that we have our faith. However, in the second reading today St. James says that faith without works is dead. He then gives…Continue Reading

Communiqué Issued at the end of the Pro-Life Conference In Accra, Ghana (August 8-9

Preamble In response to the increasing violation of the sanctity and dignity of human life and the continuing culture of death in Ghana and around the world, and in line with Pope Francis’ call for the need to sustain and support marriage and family life, the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the priests, religious and laity of the Catholic Church in…Continue Reading

End Media Blackout On Planned Parenthood Baby Parts Scandal

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The baby parts sale scandal at Planned Parenthood is being aided and abetted by another scandal: the refusal of vast portions of the mainstream media to cover the issue. The release of numerous videos that detail the brutal and criminal killing and dismembering even of babies outside of the womb in order to obtain body…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course… The Man Jesus — Humanity At Its Perfection

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 17 What was Jesus like, as a Man? We know about His divinity, we believe in it, but what was He like in His daily life with people in general? We call this topic investigating the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, or, more simply, Jesus the Man. In an obscure province of…Continue Reading

The Episcopal College And The Pope

By DON FIER When Jesus founded the Church, as we saw last week, “He gave her authority and mission, orientation and goal” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], n. 874). With the overarching objective to ensure that the ministry He introduced during His time on earth would be carried forward until the end of time, Christ organized her along hierarchical…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

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Aidan

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Church names many saints as patrons of certain professions, troubles, or countries. St. Benedict is the patron saint of Europe. As the father of Western monasticism, he is credited with building Western civilization. St. Catherine of Siena is also a patron of Europe since she played important roles in settling both civil and ecclesiastical disputes. St.…Continue Reading