Monday, 21 April 2008

The fruits of faith

Just now I'm re-reading one of the most profound documents of our time; that is Pope John Paul the greats encyclical Fides et Ratio which is Latin for Faith and Reason.
I first encountered this document as a seminarian and it's interesting re-reading it the lines i underscored then, and the lines I want to highlight now. Yes many are the same, but I now realise that in seminary I was looking for snippets of orthodoxy to throw back at people whenever they seemed to deviate from the orthodox line (which I still hold) rather than looking at the document in the spirit of academic pursuit and research.
Fides et Ratio was and continues to be a challenge to the whole academic life of the Church and indeed the world to re-discover the great need for the the pursuit of truth and to liberate philosophy from the notion that it is a distant academic discipline which has nothing to do with the every-day reality of human life.
It was also a reminder that faith and reason are equally important in our search for the truth. As St Anselm put it 'Credo ut Intellegam, Intellegam ut Credo' which literally means 'I believe in order to understand, I understand in order to believe'.
This is an important point to grasp and to realise; the Catholic faith is not simply some comfort blanket that we wrap around ourselves; it's a faith which has been revealed to us by God to which we have responded using our reason. God reveals and Man responds. It's reasonable to believe...
As Aristotle affirmed 'All human beings desire to know'. It's a beautiful reality to discover that the journey we share in our faith is the journey towards the truth, but also towards a person Jesus Christ. Our nature, that is to say, what we are meant for is to come to know and encounter God.
The late great Holy Father said in one of his Wednesday audiences in 1983:
'The religious impulse is the highest expression of the human person, because it is the highpoint of his rational nature. It springs from the profound human aspiration for the truth and it is the basis of the human being's free and personal search for the divine'
Faith is a truly beautiful thing; I wonder how often we realise that 'in believing, we entrust ourselves to the knowledge acquired by other people... belief is often humanly richer than mere evidence, because it involves an interpersonal relationship and brings into play not only a persons capacity to know but also the deeper capacity to entrust oneself to others, to enter into a relationship with them which is intimate and enduring'.
A life in faith is and should be a living relationship with God through His Church and His children. That means as fides et ratio puts it 'a dynamic relationship of faithful self-giving with others'. The free decision which the human person comes to, which involves all of the above, is one 'of the most significant and expressive human acts'.
We need to think about this and let the consequences of our thought challenge us... Are we willing to search for what is true? Are we willing to go on that journey which might be uncomfortable?
We can't live in this relativistic society anymore. Pope Benedict XVI calls it the dictatorship of relativism, and something which Pope John Paul the great was very aware of. If we say 'all positions are equally true' then we are trying to be inclusive and exclusive at the same time. That saying is a violation of the principle of non-contradiction which Pope John Paul saw as a basic principle needed in Philosophy and needed in our general thinking...
As a people of faith we are called to proclaim that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the light... There is no other, none beside Him. We do not know all of the truth, that will only be revealed in the fullness of time. But for now we are called to help others, freely discern their journey, in coming to know and have a lived experience of faith and a lived relationship with God who is revealed to us by His son Jesus Christ.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm here via Mac's blog :)

Good to see a post on Fides et Ratio - one of our Bootcamp lectures is going to be using it quite extensively. I'm looking forward to it! Apart from anything else, it'll be the opportunity I need to get back to the encyclical I tried to read as a teenager and didn't get very far with.