Sunday 21st April 2019

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Man’s Capacity For God

October 4, 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

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Fr. James Schall passed away today. A Jesuit priest & Georgetown professor, he served as mentor & model to a numberless many (including me). With penetrating insight & wit, he pointed us to Christ & those great Catholic minds we mustn't forget.

Fr. Schall, requiescat in pace.

Please pray for Raymond DeSousa today, who is a weekly Wanderer columnist who is undergoing serious surgery today.

Load More...

Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., has died at the age of 91

Fr. James V. Schall, the prolific and much-beloved Jesuit, professor and author, died earlier today. His family states that “he was comfortable and at peace” at the time of his death. He was born in Pocahontas, Iowa, January 20, 1928.…Continue Reading

North Carolina Gov. vetoes bill requiring care for babies born alive after failed abortion

RALEIGH, April 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – North Carolina Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed legislation Thursday morning that would require abortionists to provide basic medical care to newborns who survive failed abortions, just days after the measure cleared the state legislature.…Continue Reading

How Cardinal Wuerl Misled the Papal Foundation

In 2017, Cardinal Donald Wuerl provided false and misleading information to the board of the Papal Foundation to secure a $25 million grant for the Istituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata (IDI), a scandal-plagued hospital in Rome. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro…Continue Reading

Since “Unplanned” Movie Released, 94 Abortion Clinic Workers Have Said They May Quit Their Jobs

Abby Johnson’s powerful conversion story is moving hearts inside the abortion industry. Chuck Konzelman, who is a co-writer/co-director of “Unplanned,” the new film detailing Johnson’s life, said nearly 100 abortion workers have reached out to them in the past few…Continue Reading

Franciscan University president resigns

Steubenville, Ohio, Apr 8, 2019 / 07:50 am (CNA).- Fr. Sean Sheridan, TOR, has resigned as president of Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. Fr. Sheridan informed the university’s trustees of his decision during a regular meeting of the board on…Continue Reading

CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY HONORS ABORTION PROPONENT WITH COMMENCEMENT SOAPBOX, DOCTORATE

Alumni of Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland and the Cardinal Newman Society are voicing their outrage at the school’s selection of Mark Shriver to deliver the 2019 commencement address while also receiving an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Shriver is president of the Save the…Continue Reading

Emails show Planned Parenthood behind California rule to make churches pay for abortions

Sacramento, Calif., Apr 5, 2019 / 03:01 pm (CNA).- A 2014 California rule forcing religious groups, including churches, to cover elective abortions for employees was the result of direct pressure from Planned Parenthood, internal emails have shown. On April 4,…Continue Reading

Notre Dame’s Catholic duty

On Wednesday, the LGBT Law Forum at the law school hosted an event featuring Jim Obergefell, Greg Bourke and Michael DeLeon, plaintiffs in the Supreme Court caseObergefell v. Hodges, which mandated that every state recognize same-sex marriage. The talk was co-sponsored…Continue Reading

Catholic priests in Poland burn alleged sacrilegious books including ‘Harry Potter,’ condemn magic

Polish Catholic priests condemning magic burned dozens of books they considered to be sacrilegious, including works from the “Harry Potter” series. The SMS from Heaven Foundation – an evangelical group – posted photos of the burning at Gdansk’s Mother of…Continue Reading

Vatican Life Academy: Parents must vaccinate, even if vaccines come from aborted babies

VATICAN CITY, March 26, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — In a stunning declaration, the Pontifical Academy for Life — now populated entirely with Pope Francis appointments — has urged parents to vaccinate their children, even if the vaccines are derived from aborted…Continue Reading

Cardinal DiNardo discharged from hospital, expected to make full recovery

Houston, Texas, Mar 21, 2019 / 08:59 am (CNA).- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston has been released from the hospital, following a mild stroke last week, his archdiocese announced March 20. The cardinal, who serves as president of the U.S.…Continue Reading

Montreal priest stabbed at Mass ‘eager’ to return

Montreal, Canada, Mar 23, 2019 / 03:19 pm (CNA).- Father Claude Grou is out of the hospital and grateful for the groundswell of support he received after he was stabbed by an assailant while celebrating a televised Mass at St.…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  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 150 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

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Catechism

Tickets For Life

Today . . .

Cardinal Tobin: Catechism language ‘very unfortunate’ on homosexuality

Newark, N.J., Apr 18, 2019 / 10:54 am (CNA).- The Archbishop of Newark said Wednesday that the language used by the Catechism of the Catholic Church to describe homosexual acts is “very unfortunate,” adding that he hopes the Catechism will use different language in its discussion of homosexuality. “The Church, I think, is having its own conversation about what our faith has us do and say with people in relationships that are same-sex. What should…Continue Reading

Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral goes up in flames

PARIS, April 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Paris authorities are battling a fire in the city’s Notre Dame cathedral that broke out Monday, producing massive plumes of smoke billowing from the historic Catholic site. Authorities have cleared the area surrounding the cathedral as they battle flames “leap[ing] out besides its two bell towers,” NBC News reports. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has requested that passersby steer clear of the vicinity until further

Medical students in Africa outraged over U.S. based org enticing them to become abortionists

UGANDA, April 12, 2019, LifeSiteNews – A U.S. based pro-abortion group that misleadingly calls itself “Catholics for Choice” is enticing unsuspecting medical students in Africa’s most vibrant Catholic countries to become not only abortion promoters but even abortionists, according to medical students who attended a workshop hosted by the organization. Ugandan medical students recently became troubled when they realized too late that a seminar about “reproductive he

Full text of Benedict XVI essay: ‘The Church and the scandal of sexual abuse’

popeben

Vatican City, Apr 10, 2019 / 04:23 pm (CNA).- The following is a previously unpublished essay from Pope emeritus Benedict XVI: On February 21 to 24, at the invitation of Pope Francis, the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences gathered at the Vatican to discuss the current crisis of the faith and of the Church; a crisis experienced throughout the world after shocking revelations of clerical abuse perpetrated against minors. The extent and gravity of…Continue Reading

“Unplanned” Movie Stays in Top 10 With Surprisingly Strong 2nd Week at Box Office

The pro-life movie “Unplanned” finished in the Top 10 after a surprisingly strong 8th place finish at the box office this weekend. The film, which opened in theaters nationwide last week, follows the true story of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood director who became pro-life after watching a baby be aborted on an ultrasound screen. Despite a media blackout, a ‘R’ rating designed to discourage viewers and little coverage outside conservative media circles, “Unplanned” opened in 4th…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

A Book Review… A Renaissance Man Looks At Human Worth

By JUDE DOUGHERTY Manetti, Giannozzo. On Human Worth and Excellence. Edited and translated by Brian P. Copenhaver; Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press, I Tatti Renaissance Library, pp LI + 362. One does not have to be a Renaissance historian or know much medieval philosophy or theology to appreciate this delightful book. On Human Worth and…Continue Reading

Dispute Over Papal Foundation’s $25 Million Grant Approval Continues

By KEVIN JONES VATICAN CITY (CNA) — Scrutiny continues for the U.S.-based Papal Foundation, amid questions of whether some of its grant activity was motivated by a desire to secure leniency for disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The ongoing controversy surrounds the foundation’s decision to make an unprecedented grant to a leading Italian hospital whose…Continue Reading

First Time In 300 Years… Rome’s Holy Stairs Are Uncovered

By HANNAH BROCKHAUS ROME (CNA) — The bare, white marble of Rome’s “Scala Sancta,” which are believed to be the stairs trod by Christ on the day of His trial and death, are now exposed and visible to pilgrims for the first time in almost 300 years. The stairs, encased in wood since the 1700s,…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . St. Peter Of Alcantara Tells Us How To Pray And Meditate

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Treatise on Prayer and Meditation, by St. Peter of Alcantara (212 pages, TAN Books & Publishers Inc., paperback and Kindle). Visit www.tanbooks.com, or call 1-800-437-5876. St. Peter of Alcantara (1499-1562) was born in Spain, and became a Franciscan friar in a strict observance friary. He was ordained in 1524, and went…Continue Reading

Liberty Counsel Says Counseling Ban Violates Free Speech

ATLANTA — Liberty Counsel filed a brief April 11 in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in an appeal challenging the constitutionality of ordinances enacted by the City of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County, which prohibit minors from receiving voluntary counseling from licensed professionals to reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions or behaviors, or…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: It is easy to get discouraged at the state of the Church these days, particularly at the decline in the number of Religious sisters from 181,000 in 1965 to about 47,000 today, which Fr. George Rutler blames partly on those orders which “accepted bad advice from misguided and misguiding theologians and leaders. Bishops often have been at fault,…Continue Reading

Holy Father . . . Approves Decrees Regarding Eight Candidates For Sainthood

By DEBORAH CASTELLANO LUBOV ROME (ZENIT) — Pope Francis on April 6 received in audience Angelo Cardinal Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. During the audience, the Supreme Pontiff authorized the same congregation to promulgate the decrees regarding: — The miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Donizetti Tavares de Lima, diocesan…Continue Reading

Faith In The Person Of Jesus

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Easter Sunday (YR C) Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37-43 Col. 3:1-4 John 20:1-9 Today we celebrate the most important day in the Church’s year. We know our Lord told His disciples that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and so enter into His glory. St. Peter speaks of this in the first reading and also…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Benedict XVI: “God Is Absent”

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Benedict XVI released a statement in German last week on the abuse crisis (see text elsewhere in this issue). It shows the extent of the crisis that, although he seeks to live in prayer and contemplation, he has chosen to speak out on this topic with the okay from Pope Francis. People are craving clear…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: For those parents and grandparents looking for good advice on how to educate children and young people about the tough moral issues of the day, may we recommend the book Made This Way by Leila Miller and Trent Horn. The chapter headings deal with Sex Outside of Marriage, Same-Sex Marriage, Divorce, Contraception, Abortion, Reproductive Technologies, Modesty, Pornography, Transgender…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Peter Of St. Joseph De Betancur

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Catholic Church is the largest provider of health care in the world. As of 2013, more than 40,000 hospitals, clinics, and homes for the elderly were run by the Catholic Church throughout the world. The pioneering work of many devout saints for centuries provided care for the sick and the homeless. To care for the sick…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Hugh The Great

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the 11th century, over 150 years before St. Francis of Assisi received the order from our Lord to “repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin,” the secular rulers sought to control the appointment of bishops, abbots, and even the Pope. During this period of simony and conflict, St. Hugh the Great entered…Continue Reading