Thursday 26th March 2015

Home » Don Fier »Uncategorized » Currently Reading:

Man’s Capacity For God

November 8, 2013 Don Fier, Uncategorized 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 says confusion spreading among Catholics ‘in an alarming way’

LifeSiteNews: Since the extraordinary synod on the family, we have entered a period of uncertainty and confusion over several “hot-button” issues: communion for divorced and “remarried” couples, a change of attitude towards homosexual unions and an apparent relaxing of attitudes…Continue Reading

Bishop backs Catholic school’s removal of teacher over pro-marriage Facebook comments: cites Pope Francis

SOMERVILLE, NJ, March 23, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Catholic school has decided not to rehire a theology teacher who rejected the argument in favor of gay “marriage” on her private Facebook page, her family has announced. The controversy began last…Continue Reading

Creepy Catholicism.

Martin O’Malley is the latest Catholic politician to come out as a duplicitous “Catholic.” Deacon Kandra posts an excerpt here from an interview in which O’Malley displays some amazingly twisted thinking to support homosexual marriage–even though he’s a Catholic. As far…Continue Reading

Polish Bishops’ Conference rejects Holy Communion for divorced and “remarried”

The Polish Bishops’ Conference has issued a communiqué firmly rejecting the proposals that divorced and “remarried” Catholics should be admitted to Holy Communion without amendment of life. The communiqué, published on 12th March, includes the following statement: “In view of the…Continue Reading

Celtic Catholic priest and friends pile on archbishop

On Monday March 16, KALW radio’s City Visions will host a program “Can Bay Area Catholics and Archbishop Cordileone find Common Ground?” Scheduled guests are the Reverend Vincent Pizzuto; Most Holy Redeemer parishioner and teachers’ union representative Ted DeSaulnier; and…Continue Reading

The Traditional Case for Capital Punishment

A group of Catholic publishers recently issued a joint statement urging an end to capital punishment. I have great respect for all of them – I have written for all of them at one point or another. I disagree with…Continue Reading

Cardinal Müller: Pope Is Not Above the Word of God and the Catholic Faith

Edit: Rorate tends to understate things.  They want a sober response.  We’d like to offer this translation of Giuseppe Nardi’s appreciation of their take on Cardinal Müller’s recent letter appearing in the Osservatore Romano and additional commentary from other important Italian…Continue Reading

Is the Synod Secretariat Stacking the Deck Again?

The Vatican today announced that the vice president of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for the Study of Marriage and the Family will be a consulter to the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops. Professor José Granados‘ appointment,…Continue Reading

Gay activist: Of course our goal is to ‘indoctrinate children into LGBTQ agenda’

TORONTO, March 13, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — A homosexual activist has candidly admitted that gay-themed materials and policies pushed in grade schools across North America are for the sake of “indoctrinating” children into an unquestioning acceptance of homosexuality. “I am here…Continue Reading

Pope . . . giving holy Communion to remarried divorcees “won’t solve anything”

On the second anniversary of his pontificate, the Holy Father gave a lengthy interview to a Mexican television journalist. – CNA/Bohumil Petrik VATICAN CITY — In a new, wide-ranging interview published Friday on the second anniversary of his election, Pope…Continue Reading

Cardinal rebukes head of German bishops: We can’t ignore Christ’s teaching on marriage

German Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, who headed the Papal Council Cor Unum until 2010 and was made a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, has publicly opposed the words and direction of the German Bishops’ Conference. In a Letter to the…Continue Reading

Catholic dissenters’ convention keynoter: A pornographic sex columnist?

Seattle, Wash., Mar 12, 2015 / 02:31 am (CNA).- Dan Savage coordinates an annual pornography festival. He has made obscene tirades about Pope Benedict XVI, denigrated the practice of monogamy, insulted high school students and publicly harassed politicians he opposes.…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

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 . . .

The exhibition of the Holy Shroud of Turin

pope741

(Vatican Radio/VIS) A press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office on Wednesday to present the upcoming exhibition of the Holy Shroud of Turin (Turin, 19 April – 24 June 2015), on the occasion of the second centenary of the birth of St. John Bosco, which will be specially dedicated to the young and to those who suffer. The Pope will also make a pilgrimage to Turin from 21 to 22 June. The…Continue Reading

Pope calls for renewed prayers for Synod on the Family

(Vatican Radio) At a rain-soaked General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis called for renewed prayers for the upcoming Synod of Bishops in the Family. After meeting briefly with a group of sick people gathered in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis greeted pilgrims in Saint Peter’s Square. The Pope began his reflection by noting that March 25th, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, marks a special stage in the journey of catechesis on the family, a…Continue Reading

Pope: “Where There Is No Mercy There Is No Justice”

pope740

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday warned against righteous hypocrisy and urged Christians to be merciful. During his homily at morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta, the Pope reflected on the Gospel readings of the day and on another Gospel passage pointing out that “where there is no mercy there is no justice”. Referring to three women in the Bible, Pope Francis said they represent three allegorical figures of the Church. The women he…Continue Reading

Pope calls on Christians to express their faith in action

pope512

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says the lives of Christians must be coherent and express faith in action. Speaking to the crowds gathered in a rainy St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus, the Pope invited all believers to always bear in mind the message of the Gospel, the image of the Crucified Lord, and the need to be witnesses of faith. Calling on Christians to express their faith in action, the Pope also turned to…Continue Reading

What If Hillary Doesn’t Care?

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO What if Hillary Clinton’s emails were hacked by foreign agents when she was the secretary of state? What if persons claiming to have done so are boasting about their alleged feats on Internet websites and in chat rooms traditionally associated with illegal or undercover activities? What if this is the sore…Continue Reading

In Defense Of Economic Freedom

By JOHN YOUNG I believe in complete economic freedom. An extreme position, it will be said, and one not only against Catholic social teaching, but also against common sense. It implies, surely, that I have a heartless disregard for the vulnerable, or at least a naive trust in capitalism — the unrestrained capitalism that Pope…Continue Reading

Some Thoughts About Catholic Care Homes . . . The Old, Weak, And Suffering Are In The Forefront Of Our Spiritual Battle

By PHILIP TROWER (Editor’s Note: Philip Trower, The Wanderer’s longtime correspondent from the United Kingdom, recently moved into a care home. The home’s superior, Sr. Hannah, asked him to write about why he chose to move into Nazareth House. Below is his letter to her.) + + + Dear Sr. Hannah, As I understand it,…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101… “What Does The Church Teach About Sterilization?”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995.) + + + Some people refer to sexual sterilization as “Catholic birth control.” This erroneous term, and the misguided assertions of a number of well-known dissenters, has led to significant confusion regarding the Catholic Church’s…Continue Reading

Will The GOP Kick It Away?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN With Hillary Clinton scrambling to explain her missing emails, much of America is wailing, “Please don’t make us watch this movie again!” Why, then, would the Republican Party, with a chance to sweep it all in 2016, want to return us to the nightmare days of George W., which caused America…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

burk10

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Message From Cardinal Burke

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

We Have Been Raised With Christ

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Easter Sunday (YR B) Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37-43 Col. 3:1-4 John 20:1-9 In the Gospel reading today, we hear about Peter and John entering the Lord’s grave after they had been informed by St. Mary Magdalen that Jesus had been taken away. We are told that when the Beloved Disciple saw the burial cloths there and…Continue Reading

Nothing To Toast Between China And The Vatican

By FR. BERNARDO CERVELLERA (Editor’s Note: Fr. Bernardo Cervellera is a member of PIME [Pontificio Istituto Missioni Estere], a society of apostolic life. He is the editor-in-chief of AsiaNews, a news service of PIME. (In the essay below, Fr. Cervellera noted China’s willingness, at least in words, “to enter into dialogue with the Vatican,” but decried its refusal “to compromise…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Why My Parish Is Facing “East” Together This Lent

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The futile closed circle of therapeutic naval-gazing hangs on like an overused joke in a few places still, one of them being the Church. The priest and people facing each other during the entire liturgy is a vestige of the illegitimate seizure and subjection of 2,000-year-old liturgical development by primitivist vandals in the post-Vatican period.…Continue Reading

Is Mary The Mother Of God . . . Or Only The Mother Of Jesus?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 2 Responding to a common misconception among separated brethren and ill-informed Catholics: On the day of the Annunciation and the Incarnation, the Archangel St. Gabriel, “who stands in the presence of God” (Luke 1:19), inspired by the Holy Spirit, said to the Blessed Virgin Mary: “Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with…Continue Reading

God Comes To Meet Man

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.…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Faustina And Divine Mercy

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Divine Mercy Chaplet had never been one of my favorite devotions until my aunt died. As she lay in the hospital during her final hours, I sat in the room, visiting with the endless stream of visitors who stopped in to see their fellow volunteer. By six o’clock, the room was quiet. I decided to read…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. John Of God

By CAROLE BRESLIN In our time, it is common to hear parents bemoan the fact that their child is impulsive, or strong-willed, or irresponsible. Even the Holy Family suffered when our Lord, at the age of twelve, stayed behind in the Temple. How Mary and Joseph must have agonized over the missing Child Jesus. How do you tell God you…Continue Reading