I am starting this blog very late in the month (July 26) because I received the title by July 19th, and I froze… What can I write about a topic that has been so well developed, explained, taught, etc. by great philosophers, theologians and Popes? I thought it had to do with Satan trying hard to laugh at me… For sure, I knew that I was not going to be able to write on a topic fully explained by our Church and it all its different parts. Our St. John Paul II wrote an encyclical on it: “Faith and Reason”… The work together of our Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis gave us in 2013 another encyclical, “Lumen Fidei,” a look at what faith is all about. I want you to notice how much I still doubt in God’s grace in my life… I should have said yes and never doubt that it was the title and let Him guide me to understand what I had to learn! Obviously, what I would learn had to do with me… or a new way to believe, to grow in faith, and that I would have to share with you.
So first, I will share a few stories of what I lived in this month of July, which has to do with the understanding of how MUCH I HAVE TO BELIEVE IN HIS LOVE by the crazy things He did for me. At the end, I will share some quotes of the published writings on this subject matter. And I checked with Him if I should close with these writings from 4 different sources and He said “yes” using the Bible, after calling the Holy Ghost to give me such word in X page, and He did. Again, let me be clear and repeat that I will not add anything new to the teachings received already from our Magisterium nor I hope to do so. I will only add a new way to look at my faith and find out if I am truly growing by the way I live it. It is a call to arms for me to trust in Him better than the day before…
Meaningful events in July 2014
It is very interesting that by seeking help for my sight due to the partial obstruction of my left central retinal vein, I have grown in seeing the things of God in more detail… As you remember, in February 2013, I had an ophthalmologist look at my left eyesight problems, which started in 2006 and disappeared by 2008 and according to the ophthalmologist in Toledo, Ohio. In 2012 when my eye started having problems again, I was referred to an ophthalmologist here in the general area of San Francisco in 2013; this other doctor from Iran was very nice. He sent me to my present retinologist and also had his optometrists (2 different ones) prescribed glasses for me and both times, these glasses were the wrong ones… So, I had two major issues: a left eye with a major obstruction of one of the retinal veins, and the other, glasses that were inadequate and forces me to drive without them… And the worst part is that my driver’s license says that I have to drive with the use of glasses… Do you agree that this is a major cross? I am breaking the law… Of course, driving without glasses has not been too much of a problem… I can see well enough and feel comfortable and not placing others in danger, BUT only if I drive through places that I know because reading the name of streets or expressway exit numbers is very hard until I am very close to them. I hope that the new glasses will solve the problem
In 2013, I was given three intra-ocular injections in my eye by the retinologist and with little change. He offered me laser treatments, I prayed about it and the answer from God was “No.” I sent him a letter telling him about it, and knew that he would respect my beliefs… What a gift is to have a doctor who is a believer! This happened at the end of July 2013. In August 2013, I had the two hospitalizations and the severe gastric hemorrhage from four ulcers. After the 7 units of blood received and trying my best to alert the staff that I was allergic to many foods with my study done back in 2002, I ended up with a worse case of food allergies to foods. Had I accepted the laser treatments, I would have had to stop them anyway. God knew it. I did not. PLEASE REMEMBER THIS STORY BECAUSE of it, I learned something very important on how to cure food allergies, and you will learn about it later on and how I discovered it in my own body (agreeing with the company who teaches it and does the test for food allergies in Florida) and how no one ever in the medical profession mentioned it to me… But for your own health, it will be of great importance.
Because of the problem with my glasses, I made an appointment with the retinologist just to see how my obstruction was doing and to figure out how to get another prescription for my good eye glasses. On July 2, I went there. And yes, I asked in my last blog for your prayers… THANK YOU… The visit was very special and I must tell you that intercessory prayer is soo powerful. However, sometimes, we pray HOPING that God will do something, and I am talking about lay people. How little we know of the power of prayer…
But let me stop here as I narrate the general story of this visit and remind you of the power of prayer with my story of the 2002 visit to Tepeyac, MX to spend two days with Our Lady of Guadalupe as the election was held, asking her to intercede for the midterm national elections and have our Senate obtain a Republican majority (the House already had it)… and thereby, become pro-life… In this way, we could give President Bush the ability to name new Judges to the Supreme Court that were pro-life (and some were about to retire), and have not trouble with their confirmation. I attended Mass after Mass in these two days since a Mass was celebrated every hour on the hour… and also said many Rosaries. And yes, by the time I got back to the U.S. as I landed in Houston, I learned that the Senate had enough Republicans for a majority. Then, in 2004 and as I shared it before, I spent an entire day in Holy Hour and praying 26-27 Rosaries to have the will of God be done for our new president, and yes, George Bush was re-elected… With this, more security was branded to the Supreme Court. AND RECENTLY, the latest Supreme Court decision (Hobby Lobby) depended on 5 Catholic Judges…This is the power of prayer… the power of the Rosary… the power of being children of God… and expecting our Dad to solve our problems. Hopefully, EWTN will find a way out after this decision! Yet, little did I know then how important my efforts were going to be in 2014… It is interesting that God has a plan and only requires of us to trust His plan and expect our battles to be won.
Here I continue writing about my visit to the retinologist and about the young person who dilated my left pupil and measured the intraocular pressures of both eyes prior to seeing the physician; he turned out to be religious as well and Roman Catholic. We had a very good time sharing God. My retinologist, as always, a great man, a quiet religious man who decided to start again the intro-ocular injections, and of course, I had prayed much before this visit to have the Holy Spirit illumine him. I asked him about what to do regarding getting new glasses and if I could go directly to an optometrist, bypassing the previous ophthalmologist whose optometrists had not prescribed the right kind of eyeglasses. He said it was fine.
Thursday, July 3rd.
During my Holy Hour, I was sent to a part of the Bible where St. Paul chooses to go to Jerusalem and give his life for the FAITH! In his words to the Presbyters of the Church at Ephesus in Acts 20: 21-24, he says,
“I earnestly witness for both Jews and Greeks to repentance before God and to faith in our Lord Jesus. But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me. Yet, I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace”
I wrote in my journal: “I understood that the Lord is calling me again to give all to God! And this means to ignore what it is next. I have major battles in my hands, from problems with my eyesight and needing a miracle to get the right glasses to finding a good optometrist to prescribe; from terrible pain in both knees and left ankle due to allergy to foods to meals being the same (I can only eat a few items over and over) because otherwise I could hardly walk… plus I worry that by doing so, my stomach surface may get inflamed and make more ulcers.
“The truth is that within these crosses, there is so much joy and peace and an extraordinary presence of Jesus and His Mother, that I have proof that God’s will is being kept on my part and therefore, all is perfect and necessary for me. As St. Paul, I also have to look for future moves for different reasons, and one time, when I checked with the Holy Spirit about it, he answered that “yes”, it was God’s will. In other words, I asked my Mother to intercede for me so that the Holy Spirit would reaffirm to me t what I must do, and to give me the word “yes” in the Bible, if it is according to His will… and He sent me to one page where I found SIX yeses…!!! (2Cor:1)” In fact, the many strange events that went on this month of July also corroborate that God is next to me, and therefore, in charge of all what I do or experience.
“During the Mass, I felt so much love for the young assistant priest celebrating it and for all parishioners around me and I prayed for them. I realized that no matter who thinks what about me, my job is to love them, and that my Lord had given me such gift, to love them first and foremost and then, to offer the Mass for them.”
Saturday, July 5th
The results of the test for allergy to foods and medicines sent to Florida on June 16th, arrived on this day. And there it was: these foods were divided in three groups: those to which I was very allergic to; those that I am moderately allergic to and those that I am mildly allergic to. This time they measured my allergies to medical drugs like Aleve, Tylenol, antibiotics and even to some vita-nutrients (herbal products), etc. This company, ALCAT, said the same as in 2002, that if one stops for three months the foods that one is mildly allergic to, the immune system will forget its fight against it and one becomes free of the allergy. With foods with moderate allergy, one has to stop them for 6 months. For those severely allergic to, one has to stop them from 6 to 9 months. I DID NOT BELIEVE them in 2002… I never heard about it in my medical training of something like that. And 12 years later and visiting so many doctors, I have not heard it either.
However, in my own body, their idea is true to me too. I was deadly allergic to onions but not anymore. Of course, since 2002, I had stopped them forever. I was allergic to milk and not anymore. I was allergic to wheat, but now I am allergic to all gluten, that is, other family members of wheat… This time I am allergic to rice… and it was something I ate up to the moment I received these results because the old results did not report allergy to rice. This time, I am mildly allergic to coffee as I was in 2002 and to tea but I did not believe ALCAT and did not stop them for 3 months… This time and since Sunday July 6, I have not had coffee or tea… Of course, rice is not a gluten item, and in many cases, like in tortillas, they add rice flour to the corn one… and now I have to read labels better than before. However, I have this GREAT ANSWER: my allergy to foods can be conquered… and not only because ALCAT says so, but because my body did so when I stopped many products since 2002.
Just imagine if I had not been contaminated with mercury and become allergic to foods in 2002, and how God put me in contact with this company, and I did it on my own since then I did not go to doctors. This time around, if after my problems of bleeding of 2013, had I started with food allergies for the first time, I would have gone to the allergist and he would have done just half of the testing, the one called “immediate” and covered by insurance which were all normal. I would have never known about how to test for “delayed” allergies and to be able to compare my allergies then and now by using the same company. So, as you read this, if you have any food allergies, stopping them completely for 3 or 6 or 9 months, it is all what it takes to lose the allergic sensitivity. Also, I now realize that I must take this test on a yearly basis, just to follow my own desensitization. God was there with me winning this battle, one that had not answers from my present doctors.
Sunday, July 6.
I asked my son to find in the Internet those optometrists that had good grades in their specialty. I wanted him to do it because he is of course, smarter in the field of computers and ways to find answers. He gave me a list of 5 of them. I started asking the Lord for His help in the choosing. I offered the Mass of July 7th and 8th, for such guidance.
Thursday, July 9.
After Communion, He said, “Go to Michael.” I came home and called his office and found out that they had had a cancelled appointment and gave it to me for the following day!!!
Friday, July 10
This is a day that will hardly be forgotten. God had a huge surprise. This optometrist entered the room and became my instant friend, and later, my own brother. The man, an older man, could not cease in saying how beautiful I was, which is mostly untrue. I am an old lady whose “real” age is much younger than the chronological age because I have worked at it, first without knowing it, and later, knowing that vitamins and other excellent products are all anti-aging. People probably sees the change and what they expect me to look like for my chronological age, and call it “beauty.” But what truly moved me was that this man was ALSO a TRUE BELIEVER OF THE LORD JESUS… He is Catholic, attends a nearby parish and has read the Bible 10 times. He was reading the book of Kings for the eleventh time!!! We talked about Jesus more than anything else. He spent a whole hour with me and suggested that I should have cataract surgery to better my general vision of both eyes. I knew I had them but they were not big. However, it makes sense to do all is necessary to help my vision, since next March, 2015, I am due to pass through the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew my driver’s license since the last one was only given for 2 years …
Then another surprise came. He suggested visiting an ophthalmologist for the cataract surgery, his friend and who he believes is the best in the business in this area. This doctor is from India and has a practice far away from here… south of Oakland. He would call him personally and tell him to take care of his “sister” in the best way he could!!! This optometrist, my new “brother”, said that he would wait to prescribe new glasses until the cataracts were out. Otherwise, it would be another expense because they will change. And yes, some 3 days later, the office of this ophthalmologist called for me to make an appointment, which would be on July 28th. And on July 30th, I have scheduled the second intra-ocular injection by the retinologist! I guess that the cross is heavy, but the miracle of finding my new “brother” is enough to make me accept it with great love.
My problem is that in a cataract surgery, they remove the natural lenses (cornea) and they replace them with artificial ones… The important point is if I am allergic to the product with which they make these lenses. In the Internet, they say that they are made from silicon… How do I know if I am allergic to it?
Sunday, July 13.
I wrote in my journal, “My look at the world at large gives me fear. Yes, fear. My faith ain’t good in this matter. The World Cup (soccer for us in the U.S.) is going on and the multitudes were there from most countries… I wonder what Jesus feels in these moments. The problem is that we have the answers but because we do not truly believe that millions of people need conversion and salvation and act on it, we do not pray with FAITH and LOVE FOR THEM, so that Jesus may take care of everything. And this faith should be LIVED, which means that we expect Him to win the battle involved and never worry about what is next…”
Saturday, July 19.
It was on this day that I was given the title for this blog: “Faith and Reason.” And yes, I started a quick superficial review of all the major writings on this subject which I added at the end of this blog, just as a reminder for those interested, in the depth and beauty of those who spoke about faith and reason…It has taken some time until this month to understand about aspects of faith that I had never paid attention to.
This is the list of the teachings that I reviewed and that I am adding some quotes at the end.
1. FIRST VATICAN COUNCIL (1869-1870)
2. ENCYCLICAL LETTER LUMEN FIDEI – Pope FRANCIS – June 29, 2013.
3. Faith, Reason and the University Memories and Reflections
Tuesday, 12 September 2006
APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO MÜNCHEN, ALTÖTTING AND REGENSBURG
4. FIDES ET RATIO – ENCYCLICAL LETTER OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF JOHN PAUL II
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FAITH AND REASON -14 September 1998
Tuesday, July 22
On this day, we as a family remembered that my husband and my son’s father had died in 2001, or 13 years ago. He was a man without faith. He had become an atheist. Yet, 6 months before, he had been given his death sentence: death in 6 months of terminal cancer too advanced to be treatable, except for some radiotherapy that may have given him 2 months more of life. He turned it down. He never became upset or sad about his diagnosis and prognosis. He accepted a Jesuit priest who came to the hospital where he had an open and close abdominal exploration. We call it “open and close” signifying that there was not much to do since the cancer had spread and therefore, it was very advanced. He went to confession and received Communion and died in total peace as I have narrated many times in these blogs, waking up from a comma of 3 days and looking at us and when given permission to go and to follow the light and go to Jesus, he placed his head down and took his last breath.
On this day in 2014, I was able to see even further how faith is a true gift. For most of his life, this man reasoned that God could not exist because of the many problems with hunger and political upheaval and persecution that he had lived in the Dominican Republic under the dictatorship of General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. Yet, at the time of his death, the Holy Spirit took over and gave him a very holy death. What went through his mind regarding God for those 6 months? I never asked. I only served him to the end. Since he was an alcoholic, I made sure that I would buy his favorite drink, and of course, since I do not drink at all ever, I had no idea where to go and buy it. It was hard to enter different places to look for his preferred Spanish brand of cognac, but I did it and he had enough around to enjoy in his last days. Of course, at this point I still did not know that his death would be so glorious and peaceful.
But it was precisely on this day when at Mass I thanked my God for His great love for us having this man depart without a struggle, that I received more understanding about faith in general. I wrote in my journal:
“Faith and trust are not the same! Faith is believing in God’s existence. Trust is believing that God is almighty, generous, merciful, loving and therefore, trust is equal to faith without the fear that He will not act on our behalf, and that on the contrary, He will do all things for us and win all our battles. When I trust in Jesus, I am certain that He is totally in charge of every need I have.“
I wondered if we do not stop often enough to find out what kind of faith we think we have. True faith calls for our total certitude that He is in charge. I then remembered that He is using my left eye’s problems to show me how much He cares for me. He also used my severe gastric hemorrhage of last year to be able to see how many came to my bedside because I was a different patient, according to the various nurses and nurse assistants that came to visit with me in two different hospitals. He wanted to show me that I must believe that even every hair of my head has been counted and at such difficult time like coming out of a extreme amount of blood loss. So, do I believe that my prayer is heard instantly? You bet.
After so many extraordinary events lived in the last couple of years with my health, I know that He is truly next to me for everything. Do I believe that my prayer is heard and answered immediately? O yea… The answer may not be what my human heart wants, but that He is answering my prayer STAT, AS WE SAY IN MEDICINE (instead of asap), yes, He is. So, whatever happens to me at every present moment is perfect, necessary and unique for my salvation and that of many others that I could find in my path. What I must pray is also for His mercy to pardon my unbelief, when I tend to beg for answers ignoring that the answers are being delivered but in His time and manner. Even evangelization in these hospitals was done and to my surprise. Sometimes I hear teaching on all kind of advice and ideas as to how to evangelize or convert others… We seem to forget that this is the work of the Holy Spirit and that our evangelization starts when we HAVE THE FAITH REQUIRED to know that God is in charge and we are only His instruments… This letting God do it and more importantly, radically believing that He can do it through us, is what seems very hard to pass on to others. Our lack of trust in His love and mercy seems to come and visit our souls more often that it is needed.
In other words, this journey seems to have been modified for me. I am moving from “faith and reason” to “trust and prayer,” prayer of adoration and worship and thanksgiving. With trust, the miracles of His mercy are so many and varied, that reason becomes obsolete. Of course, remember that this understanding comes from my heart that is not educated… I fully believe what the Pope’s have written on faith and reason and the “light of faith.” I am only adding a few things of what I have felt necessary to do to grow in my faith, to the point of not wondering anymore about any turns I will take from day to day, since He is around day and night, and yes, this month He has shown it to me in special ways, like finding for me an extraordinary optometrist who introduced me to a brilliant ophthalmologist!!!!
On this same day, after the noon Mass, I found a good friend who had promised a book he had written (a best seller and famous book from 2002) to be sent with me to my son with whom I live. This good religious man specializes in executive teams’ development. He had offered to do it for several months, but it was on this day that he ran to his car to get it for me, one of several he has written. When I came home, I looked through its chapters and found five dysfunctions that a team or group of workers may suffer in any industry. They are:
1. Absence of trust
2. Fear of conflict
3. Lack of commitment
4. Avoidance of accountability
5. Inattention to results.
I could not help but discover that our journeys of faith may suffer of the same dysfunctions. When we lack trust in God (faith without fear), we fear any conflict in our lives, and what is worse, we may lack commitment to do something about it, avoid being accountable to God for our behavior, and if we change anything, we pay little attention to the results of our change.
Sunday, July 27
The story of Sister Mary Teresita. When my son and I went to 8 AM Mass in our parish, we arrived earlier than normal (7:20 AM) and people had not left from the previous Mass, which gave me the idea of walking to the front of the Church and visit the bathroom. I did it because a light rain was expected in this area, as it was present when we left the northern where we live. I did not want to wait in the car and have to deal with the rain as well. This move facilitated my paying attention to the pamphlets that were in the vestibule with the address of Omaha, NE, which had led me to exclaim, "Omaha, NE?" thinking of my theologian son and wife who live there. A nun was in the empty vestibule (all people had left by now while I was in the bathroom) and she answered me, "Yes, Omaha, NE and I brought the pamphlets." This was again, God’s way to get us together at all cost and no one around with time to talk. So, the timing had to be perfect!!! When I told this nun about my son’s name, she almost passed out since she works with him and her Order was founded in 2003 in Omaha by a Nigerian priest who works for this Archdiocese. Had I proceeded as always to enter church by the side door and despite that she spoke about her mission after the homily and mentioned her Missionary Order with Omaha and Nigerian ties, at the end of Mass we would probably never have had the space nor the time, to mention my son’s name to her. The chances for this encounter were again, signs from my God to keep REMINDING me that He can do odd things just to prove that HE IS IN CHARGE of our lives and we have to let go of any wondering’s about what is next, and just follow directions.
After Communion , I had said to Him, "Please help me tomorrow with the driving to San Leandro, especially for the coming back and with dilated pupils." He answered, "You only have to know that I will be with you and that is sufficient." As you can see, my faith aint’ too good… The only thing I should have done was to thank Him ahead of time for His mercy for this trip…, an advice given by the Franciscan Venerable Solanus Casey. I had even considered to go to a hotel and rent a room until my pupils were back to normal (3-4 hours after) because my trouble EVEN with normal pupils is that I cannot read exit signs and names of streets until I am very close to them, which gets worse in the expressway…
Monday, July 28.
I had the appointment with Dr. Nicholas Batra, the ophthalmologist, and I described the encounter through this email to family members and to make it easier on my eyes…
“Thank you for your prayers. As you learned last night via phone, E’s meeting in his job for this morning canceled and he offered to drive me to his office in San Leandro. This would be miracle No. 1, since the driving was expected to be super difficult for me with the very heavy traffic of the early morning and using 3 different expressways. While I was getting ready to leave the house, I heard the Lord tell me that I should not have the cataract surgery done. He said that when I would ask Dr. Batra about Silicon and possibility of allergy to it, he would say, "It is up to you. You make the decision "
“Miracle No. 2: this morning, the nearby expressway 680 was jammed… So, my son used his I-phone with the recent Google made available application to get us there. Sure enough this woman’s computerized voice made us take a nearby street, Taylor to lead us to 13 S. near Oakland and bypass all the crowded 680…. It was simply a dream…: We left at 7:30 AM for a 9:15 AM appointment. And yes, we super made it with the Google instructions and arrived at 8:25. I saw a 7 Eleven as we had just passed the ophthalmologist’s office.
“Miracle No. 3 I told my son that since we had plenty of time, I wanted to stop at that 7 Eleven to get some money from the ATM. So, he had to go around and come back to this store since when I asked for the favor, we had just passed it. NOTICE THE PERFECT TIMING!!! As we arrived at the 7 Eleven we found a parking space right in front of the entrance door. An African American man in his 50’s was walking right in front of the car to enter the store. He opened the door and stopped there as if he were a soldier and looked at us waiting for any of us to come out of the car to enter the place. He did not know that I would be the one and less that I use a cane… I called him an angel and he may have been… I went in and got my money and suddenly I decided to buy some lotto… I need an adult stem cell treatment to give my many health problems a chance for normalcy and perhaps to stop my crazy immune system from being so active. Finding this man acting as an angel gave me the idea of God sending a sign of some sort. I went to make a short line to buy the lotto and the same man was in line to pay for a bottle of water. He insisted that I would go first ahead of him.
“While waiting for the person ahead of me to pay, I asked my now friend for his name and he said that it was Moe… I thanked him many times and told him that I am a believer and hopefully would not offend him with my words, but I considered him an angel even if he did not believe in God. He smiled and said, "O yea, I believe. In fact, I do not worry about anything. I only fear God." (Of course, for me, fear of the Lord is awe for His majesty, goodness, love and mercy) This confirmed to me that he was an agent of the Almighty and that the Holy Ghost had made him wait for me at the entrance door. I paid for the lotto and started to walk to the main door and he probably had the exact change to pay for his water because he ran and opened the door for me again… and then ran to the car and opened the door. I introduced him to my son…WE LEFT IN AWE… This time, my son was a witness of how God shows up in my life and people run to serve me. This case, of course, was even more fantastic.
“Miracle No. 4: we got to Dr. Batra’s office (he has had this office since 2003 and he is supposedly the first resident – that is, he was in training – who used Lasik… and also, he uses a special technique to do cataracts with special lenses. Truly, he is brilliant and has patients coming to visit from all over the world…!) My appointment for 9:15 AM was delayed. I went inside at 10 AM. Since I had much time waiting, I tried to quietly pray the Rosary and I found myself thinking that may be what I heard from the Lord about not doing the cataracts was from Satan, since I had not even prayed this early morning before I heard Him say so.
“I had brought them a color copy of all my lists of allergies. After my eyes were dilated he came in, and my question about silicon had a different answer to what the Internet reported that silicon is the principal material of lenses. He said that nowadays, silicon lenses are used only for a few patients. The lenses are now made of acrylic and of course, he did not know if I would react to this material. However he gave me very important and pertinent information as follows.
“My cataracts (opacity of the cornea) are of medium size. There is no urgency in getting them out if my day to day life is O.K. with just glasses… If the cataract extraction is done just in the right good eye, yes, I would see better but there is a 1% chance that it may not work and I become totally blind since my left eye is not good., and this without even considering any allergy to acrylic products. The left eye merits a cataract removal only if my retinologist finds problems for the intra-ocular injections. Since it is not the case (and he knows him) and has not asked to remove them, then, doing a cataract is pretty much up in the air. IT WAS UP TO ME…!!!! He thought that if I wanted, I could wait for later if my vision got worse due to the cataract growing in the good eye, and whenever I would like to take the 1% risk of losing this eye.
“He spoke exactly what the Lord had said to me… And I immediately said that I would wait precisely because of my Lord’s advice. He went along with my decision with his very nice and relaxed polite manners… and suggested to make an appointment with him for 6 months from now. I did for January 28, 2015, date that falls before my driving license renewal. The entire experience was majestic. Simple… And after we left, I realized that the presence of Moe and how he treated me was a SIGN from my God as if trying to say to me, ‘See, I even take care of placing angels in your path to help you’. I could sense how God was in charge of other hearts around me, from my son’s meeting to cancel, to have a machine direct us through streets that were not as crowded, to finding Moe signaling my God’s love for me, to meeting this brilliant man, and for his words to be what I have heard earlier coming from my inner temple.
“Today, I even asked the Lord when do I have to post this blog because of the certainty that His time is my choice… and told Him to send me in the Bible, the word FIRST for first day (today July 28) or SECOND (for tomorrow July 29) or THIRD, (for Wednesday, the last day of the month). I was sent to two different pages and found the word SECOND… End of Email. As it turned out, I was told to post it on St. Martha’s feast, one who truly showed faith in Jesus!”
This month was a very decisive time to understand that God is calling me to truly grow in faith and not worrying even for one second about anything in my life. AND IF I AM DOING SOMETHING HE DOES NOT WANT, HE WILL BE AROUND TO LET ME KNOW. I celebrated one more anniversary of my Baptism (July 17). In 3 days (August 1) I will celebrate one more anniversary of my Confirmation. His Holy Spirit was sent to me in order to live by faith alone… and only as an agent of His mercy in the case of evangelization of other human beings. He directs this job. He places me at a very precise time nearby the person or persons He wants me to invite (verbally or not) to do the same. Yes, He gives me the gift of faith, but this gift cannot operate properly if I do not deny myself and forget about my needs or desires, embrace my crosses, and one huge cross is precisely not to worry about what is next. Finally, I have to follow Him and it means to be tempted by Satan, to be persecuted, to suffer in many ways, but above all to love my brothers and sisters before I think of myself and just as He did. Of course, all along this blog I have used reason as part of my discernment of these strange events of this month of July, but done it in general, I want to believe in His love and mercy at all cost and without questions, yet without any anxiety or fear of any kind.
Since my last blog, I have been extremely blessed with a surety that all my crosses are simply fantastic because they allow me to show my God how much I love Him and how much I believe in His crazy love for me. My health issues also have advanced with good results, and at least I have answers as to how to conquer my multiple allergies. I have seen my Lord showering me with events that reveal His multiple ways to be there for me, next to me, guiding me to meet different people, and these encounters have generated more faith in Him. My Mother has been sooo present… Often, I have found myself moved with tears because her love has been so evident. The Holy Trinity and Our Lady are truly present in our lives and our duty is to do whatever we can to be present to Them. I am more convinced than ever that my life must be carefully focused in giving glory to Him in every form possible and never to complain about any suffering.
About Our Lady: In this coming month of August, we have a record number of feasts of Our Lady and since St. Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga, S.J.’s (from Chile) death happened on August 18, 1952, I imagine that we celebrate his feast day also on this date. Our Lady’s dates are:
Aug. 2 – Our Lady Queen of Angels, patroness of Costa Rica and a very important feast for the Franciscan Order.
August 5 – Our Lady of Mercy and Our Lady of the Snows
August 15 – The Assumption of Mary
August 21 – Our Lady of Knock
August 22 – Our Lady Queen of the Universe or Queen of the World, patroness of this Diocese of Oakland
August 26 – Our Lady of Czestochowa
August 28 – Feast of the Dormition of Mary
I am planning to ask her in all these feasts to pray for us, especially in the Catholic Church, to truly become people of “faith” capable of moving mountains. With this faith, we can pray for the wars going on in the Ukraine and the Middle East to end, and He would do it… No doubt in my mind… as long as we truly profess faith in action, that is that we are certain that He can do it in no time, and not just with faith that is a general acceptance that God exists.
Here are the excerpts I considered from the documents already mentioned and in case -you may want to review them. I thank you very much for your prayers.
This council was summoned by Pope Pius IX by the bull Aeterni Patris of 29 June 1868. The first session was held in St. Peter’s basilica on 8 December 1869 in the presence and under the presidency of the Pope.
The outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war led to the interruption of the council. It was in fact never resumed, nor was it ever officially closed. As in other councils at which the Pope was present and presided, the decrees were in the form of bulls, at the end of which was the clear declaration: "with the approval of the sacred council". Very large numbers attended this council, including, for the first time, bishops from outside Europe and its neighboring lands. Bishops from the eastern Orthodox Churches were also invited, but did not come.
Chapter 3 on faith
1. Since human beings are totally dependent on God as their creator and lord, and created reason is completely subject to uncreated truth, we are obliged to yield to God the revealer full submission of intellect and will by faith.
2. This faith, which is the beginning of human salvation, the Catholic Church professes to be a supernatural virtue, by means of which, with the grace of God inspiring and assisting us, we believe to be true what He has revealed, not because we perceive its intrinsic truth by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God himself, who makes the revelation and can neither deceive nor be deceived.
3. Faith, declares the Apostle, is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
4. Nevertheless, in order that the submission of our faith should be in accordance with reason, it was God’s will that there should be linked to the internal assistance of the Holy Spirit external indications of his revelation, that is to say divine acts, and first and foremost miracles and prophecies, which clearly demonstrating as they do the omnipotence and infinite knowledge of God, are the most certain signs of revelation and are suited to the understanding of all.
5. Hence Moses and the prophets, and especially Christ our lord himself, worked many absolutely clear miracles and delivered prophecies; while of the apostles we read: And they went forth and preached every, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. Again it is written: We have the prophetic word made more sure; you will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place.
6. Now, although the assent of faith is by no means a blind movement of the mind, yet no one can accept the gospel preaching in the way that is necessary for achieving salvation without the inspiration and illumination of the Holy Spirit, who gives to all facility in accepting and believing the truth.
7. And so faith in itself, even though it may not work through charity, is a gift of God, and its operation is a work belonging to the order of salvation, in that a person yields true obedience to God himself when he accepts and collaborates with his grace which he could have rejected.
8. Wherefore, by divine and Catholic faith all those things are to be believed which are contained in the word of God as found in Scripture and tradition, and which are proposed by the Church as matters to be believed as divinely revealed, whether by her solemn judgment or in her ordinary and universal magisterium.
9. Since, then, without faith it is impossible to please God and reach the fellowship of his sons and daughters, it follows that no one can ever achieve justification without it, neither can anyone attain eternal life unless he or she perseveres in it to the end.
10. So that we could fulfill our duty of embracing the true faith and of persevering unwaveringly in it, God, through his only begotten Son, founded the Church, and he endowed his institution with clear notes to the end that she might be recognized by all as the guardian and teacher of the revealed word.
11. To the Catholic Church alone belong all those things, so many and so marvelous, which have been divinely ordained to make for the manifest credibility of the Christian faith.
12. What is more, the Church herself by reason of her astonishing propagation, her outstanding holiness and her inexhaustible fertility in every kind of goodness, by her Catholic unity and her unconquerable stability, is a kind of great and perpetual motive of credibility and an incontrovertible evidence of her own divine mission.
13. So it comes about that, like a standard lifted up for the nations, she both invites to herself those who have not yet believed, and likewise assures her sons and daughters that the faith they profess rests on the firmest of foundations.
14. To this witness is added the effective help of power from on high. For, the kind Lord stirs up those who go astray and helps them by his grace so that they may come to the knowledge of the truth; and also confirms by his grace those whom he has translated into his admirable light, so that they may persevere in this light, not abandoning them unless he is first abandoned.
15. Consequently, the situation of those, who by the heavenly gift of faith have embraced the Catholic truth, is by no means the same as that of those who, led by human opinions, follow a false religion; for those who have accepted the faith under the guidance of the Church can never have any just cause for changing this faith or for calling it into question.
This being so, giving thanks to God the Father who has made us worthy to share with the saints in light let us not neglect so great a salvation, but looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, let us hold the unshakable confession of our hope.
Chapter 4 – On faith and reason
1. The perpetual agreement of the Catholic Church has maintained and maintains this too: that there is a twofold order of knowledge, distinct not only as regards its source, but also as regards its object.
2. With regard to the source, we know at the one level by natural reason, at the other level by divine faith.
3. With regard to the object, besides those things to which natural reason can attain, there are proposed for our belief mysteries hidden in God which, unless they are divinely revealed, are incapable of being known.
Wherefore, when the Apostle, who witnesses that God was known to the gentiles from created things, comes to treat of the grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ, he declares: We impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification. None of the rulers of this age understood this. God has revealed it to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. And the Only-begotten himself, in his confession to the Father, acknowledges that the Father has hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to the little ones.
4. Now reason, does indeed when it seeks persistently, piously and soberly, achieve by God’s gift some understanding, and that most profitable, of the mysteries, whether by analogy from what it knows naturally, or from the connection of these mysteries with one another and with the final end of humanity; but reason is never rendered capable of penetrating these mysteries in the way in which it penetrates those truths which form its proper object.
For the divine mysteries, by their very nature, so far surpass the created understanding that, even when a revelation has been given and accepted by faith, they remain covered by the veil of that same faith and wrapped, as it were, in a certain obscurity, as long as in this mortal life we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, and not by sight.
5. Even though faith is above reason, there can never be any real disagreement between faith and reason, since it is the same God who reveals the mysteries and infuses faith, and who has endowed the human mind with the light of reason.
6. God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever be in opposition to truth. The appearance of this kind of specious contradiction is chiefly due to the fact that either the dogmas of faith are not understood and explained in accordance with the mind of the Church, or unsound views are mistaken for the conclusions of reason.
7. Therefore we define that every assertion contrary to the truth of enlightened faith is totally false.
8. Furthermore the Church which, together with its apostolic office of teaching, has received the charge of preserving the deposit of faith, has by divine appointment the right and duty of condemning what wrongly passes for knowledge, lest anyone be led astray by philosophy and empty deceit.
9. Hence all faithful Christians are forbidden to defend as the legitimate conclusions of science those opinions which are known to be contrary to the doctrine of faith, particularly if they have been condemned by the Church; and furthermore they are absolutely bound to hold them to be errors which wear the deceptive appearance of truth.
10. Not only can faith and reason never be at odds with one another but they mutually support each other, for on the one hand right reason established the foundations of the faith and, illuminated by its light, develops the science of divine things; on the other hand, faith delivers reason from errors and protects it and furnishes it with knowledge of many kinds.
11. Hence, so far is the Church from hindering the development of human arts and studies, that in fact she assists and promotes them in many ways. For she is neither ignorant nor contemptuous of the advantages which derive from this source for human life, rather she acknowledges that those things flow from God, the lord of sciences, and, if they are properly used, lead to God by the help of his grace.
12. Nor does the Church forbid these studies to employ, each within its own area, its own proper principles and method: but while she admits this just freedom, she takes particular care that they do not become infected with errors by conflicting with divine teaching, or, by going beyond their proper limits, intrude upon what belongs to faith and engender confusion.
13. For the doctrine of the faith which God has revealed is put forward not as some philosophical discovery capable of being perfected by human intelligence, but as a divine deposit committed to the spouse of Christ to be faithfully protected and infallibly promulgated.
14. Hence, too, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by Holy mother Church, and there must never be any abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a more profound understanding.
May understanding, knowledge and wisdom increase as ages and centuries roll along, and greatly and vigorously flourish, in each and all, in the individual and the whole Church: but this only in its own proper kind, that is to say, in the same doctrine, the same sense, and the same understanding.
3. – On faith
1. If anyone says that human reason is so independent that faith cannot be commanded by God: let him be anathema.
2. If anyone says that divine faith is not to be distinguished from natural knowledge about God and moral matters, and consequently that for divine faith it is not required that revealed truth should be believed because of the authority of God who reveals it: let him be anathema.
3. If anyone says that divine revelation cannot be made credible by external signs, and that therefore men and women ought to be moved to faith only by each one’s internal experience or private inspiration: let him be anathema.
4. If anyone says that all miracles are impossible, and that therefore all reports of them, even those contained in Sacred Scripture, are to be set aside as fables or myths; or that miracles can never be known with certainty, nor can the divine origin of the Christian religion be proved from them: let him be anathema.
5. If anyone says that the assent to Christian faith is not free, but is necessarily produced by arguments of human reason; or that the grace of God is necessary only for living faith which works by charity: let him be anathema.
6. If anyone says that the condition of the faithful and those who have not yet attained to the only true faith is alike, so that Catholics may have a just cause for calling in doubt, by suspending their assent, the faith which they have already received from the teaching of the Church, until they have completed a scientific demonstration of the credibility and truth of their faith: let him be anathema.
4. On faith and reason
1. If anyone says that in divine revelation there are contained no true mysteries properly so-called, but that all the dogmas of the faith can be understood and demonstrated by properly trained reason from natural principles: let him be anathema.
2. If anyone says that human studies are to be treated with such a degree of liberty that their assertions may be maintained as true even when they are opposed to divine revelation, and that they may not be forbidden by the Church: let him be anathema.
3. If anyone says that it is possible that at some time, given the advancement of knowledge, a sense may be assigned to the dogmas propounded by the Church which is different from that which the Church has understood and understands: let him be anathema.
And so in the performance of our supreme pastoral office, we beseech for the love of Jesus Christ and we command, by the authority of him who is also our God and savior, all faithful Christians, especially those in authority or who have the duty of teaching, that they contribute their zeal and labor to the warding off and elimination of these errors from the Church and to the spreading of the light of the pure faith.
But since it is not enough to avoid the contamination of heresy unless those errors are carefully shunned which approach it in greater or less degree, we warn all of their duty to observe the constitutions and decrees in which such wrong opinions, though not expressly mentioned in this document, have been banned and forbidden by this Holy See.
II. ENCYCLICAL LETTER LUMEN FIDEI
June 29, 2013
1. The light of Faith: this is how the Church’s tradition speaks of the great gift brought by Jesus. In John’s Gospel, Christ says of himself: "I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness" (Jn 12:46). Saint Paul uses the same image: "God who said ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts" (2 Cor 4:6). To Martha, weeping for the death of her brother Lazarus, Jesus said: "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" (Jn 11:40). Those who believe, see; they see with a light that illumines their entire journey, for it comes from the risen Christ, the morning star which never sets.
An illusory light?
2. Yet in speaking of the light of faith, we can almost hear the objections of many of our contemporaries. In modernity, that light might have been considered sufficient for societies of old, but was felt to be of no use for new times, for a humanity come of age, proud of its rationality and anxious to explore the future in novel ways. Faith thus appeared to some as an illusory light, preventing mankind from boldly setting out in quest of knowledge. The young Nietzsche encouraged his sister Elisabeth to take risks, to tread "new paths… with all the uncertainty of one who must find his own way", adding that "this is where humanity’s paths part: if you want peace of soul and happiness, then believe, but if you want to be a follower of truth, then seek." Belief would be incompatible with seeking. From this starting point Nietzsche was to develop his critique of Christianity for diminishing the full meaning of human existence and stripping life of novelty and adventure. Faith would thus be the illusion of light, an illusion which blocks the path of a liberated humanity to its future.
3. In the process, faith came to be associated with darkness. There were those who tried to save faith by making room for it alongside the light of reason. Such room would open up wherever the light of reason could not penetrate, wherever certainty was no longer possible. Faith was thus understood either as a leap in the dark, to be taken in the absence of light, driven by blind emotion, or as a subjective light, capable perhaps of warming the heart and bringing personal consolation, but not something which could be proposed to others as an objective and shared light which points the way. Slowly but surely, however, it would become evident that the light of autonomous reason is not enough to illumine the future; ultimately the future remains shadowy and fraught with fear of the unknown. As a result, humanity renounced the search for a great light, Truth itself, in order to be content with smaller lights which illumine the fleeting moment yet prove incapable of showing the way. Yet in the absence of light everything becomes confused; it is impossible to tell good from evil, or the road to our destination from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere.
5. Christ, on the eve of his passion, assured Peter: "I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail" (Lk 22:32). He then told him to strengthen his brothers and sisters in that same faith. Conscious of the duty entrusted to the Successor of Peter, Benedict XVI proclaimed the present Year of Faith, a time of grace which is helping us to sense the great joy of believing and to renew our wonder at the vast horizons which faith opens up, so as then to profess that faith in its unity and integrity, faithful to the memory of the Lord and sustained by his presence and by the working of the Holy Spirit
Abraham, our father in faith
8. Faith opens the way before us and accompanies our steps through time. Hence, if we want to understand what faith is, we need to follow the route it has taken, the path trodden by believers, as witnessed first in the Old Testament. Here a unique place belongs to Abraham, our father in faith. Something disturbing takes place in his life: God speaks to him; he reveals himself as a God who speaks and calls his name. Faith is linked to hearing. Abraham does not see God, but hears his voice. Faith thus takes on a personal aspect. God is not the god of a particular place, or a deity linked to specific sacred time, but the God of a person, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, capable of interacting with man and establishing a covenant with him. Faith is our response to a word which engages us personally, to a "Thou" who calls us by name.
9. The word spoken to Abraham contains both a call and a promise. First, it is a call to leave his own land, a summons to a new life, the beginning of an exodus which points him towards an unforeseen future. The sight which faith would give to Abraham would always be linked to the need to take this step forward: faith "sees" to the extent that it journeys, to the extent that it chooses to enter into the horizons opened up by God’s word.
10. Abraham is asked to entrust himself to this word. Faith understands that something so apparently ephemeral and fleeting as a word, when spoken by the God who is fidelity, becomes absolutely certain and unshakable, guaranteeing the continuity of our journey through history. Faith accepts this word as a solid rock upon which we can build, a straight highway on which we can travel.
11. A final element of the story of Abraham is important for understanding his faith. God’s word, while bringing newness and surprise, is not at all alien to Abraham’s experience. In the voice which speaks to him, the patriarch recognizes a profound call which was always present at the core of his being. God ties his promise to that aspect of human life which has always appeared most "full of promise", namely, parenthood, the begetting of new life: "Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac" (Gen 17:19). The God who asks Abraham for complete trust reveals himself to be the source of all life. Faith is thus linked to God’s fatherhood, which gives rise to all creation; the God who calls Abraham is the Creator, the one who "calls into existence the things that do not exist" (Rom 4:17), the one who "chose us before the foundation of the world… and destined us for adoption as his children" (Eph 1:4-5).
The faith of Israel
12. The history of the people of Israel in the Book of Exodus follows in the wake of Abraham’s faith. Faith once again is born of a primordial gift: Israel trusts in God, who promises to set his people free from their misery. Faith becomes a summons to a lengthy journey leading to worship of the Lord on Sinai and the inheritance of a promised land. God’s love is seen to be like that of a father who carries his child along the way (cf. Dt 1:31). Israel’s confession of faith takes shape as an account of God’s deeds in setting his people free and acting as their guide (cf. Dt 26:5-11), an account passed down from one generation to the next. God’s light shines for Israel through the remembrance of the Lord’s mighty deeds, recalled and celebrated in worship, and passed down from parents to children. Here we see how the light of faith is linked to concrete life-stories, to the grateful remembrance of God’s mighty deeds and the progressive fulfillment of his promises…. God’s light comes to us through the account of his self-revelation, and thus becomes capable of illuminating our passage through time by recalling his gifts and demonstrating how he fulfils his promises.
13. The history of Israel also shows us the temptation of unbelief to which the people yielded more than once. Here the opposite of faith is shown to be idolatry. While Moses is speaking to God on Sinai, the people cannot bear the mystery of God’s hiddenness, they cannot endure the time of waiting to see his face. Faith by its very nature demands renouncing the immediate possession which sight would appear to offer; it is an invitation to turn to the source of the light, while respecting the mystery of a countenance which will unveil itself personally in its own good time. Martin Buber once cited a definition of idolatry proposed by the rabbi of Kock: idolatry is "when a face addresses a face which is not a face.” In place of faith in God, it seems better to worship an idol, into whose face we can look directly and whose origin we know, because it is the work of our own hands. Before an idol, there is no risk that we will be called to abandon our security, for idols "have mouths, but they cannot speak" (Ps 115:5).
15…. Christian faith is centered on Christ; it is the confession that Jesus is Lord and that God has raised him from the dead (cf. Rom 10:9).
Salvation by faith
19. On the basis of this sharing in Jesus’ way of seeing things, Saint Paul has left us a description of the life of faith. In accepting the gift of faith, believers become a new creation; they receive a new being; as God’s children, they are now "sons in the Son". The phrase "Abba, Father", so characteristic of Jesus’ own experience, now becomes the core of the Christian experience (cf. Rom 8:15). The life of faith, as a filial existence, is the acknowledgment of a primordial and radical gift which upholds our lives. We see this clearly in Saint Paul’s question to the Corinthians: "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor 4:7). This was at the very heart of Paul’s debate with the Pharisees: the issue of whether salvation is attained by faith or by the works of the law. Paul rejects the attitude of those who would consider themselves justified before God on the basis of their own works. Such people, even when they obey the commandments and do good works, are centered on themselves; they fail to realize that goodness comes from God. Those who live this way, who want to be the source of their own righteousness, find that the latter is soon depleted and that they are unable even to keep the law. They become closed in on themselves and isolated from the Lord and from others; their lives become futile and their works barren, like a tree far from water.
Faith and truth
23. Unless you believe, you will not understand (cf. Is 7:9). The Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint translation produced in Alexandria, gives the above rendering of the words spoken by the prophet Isaiah to King Ahaz. In this way, the issue of the knowledge of truth became central to faith. The Hebrew text, though, reads differently; the prophet says to the king: "If you will not believe, you shall not be established". Here there is a play on words, based on two forms of the verb ’amān: "you will believe" (ta’amînû) and "you shall be established" (tē’āmēnû). Terrified by the might of his enemies, the king seeks the security that an alliance with the great Assyrian empire can offer. The prophet tells him instead to trust completely in the solid and steadfast rock which is the God of Israel. Because God is trustworthy, it is reasonable to have faith in him, to stand fast on his word. He is the same God that Isaiah will later call, twice in one verse, the God who is Amen, "the God of truth" (cf. Is 65:16), the enduring foundation of covenant fidelity.
III. Faith, Reason and the University – Memories and Reflections
APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO MÜNCHEN, ALTÖTTING AND REGENSBURG
MEETING WITH THE REPRESENTATIVES OF SCIENCE
LECTURE OF THE HOLY FATHER
Aula Magna of the University of Regensburg
Tuesday, 12 September 2006
While we rejoice in the new possibilities open to humanity, we also see the dangers arising from these possibilities and we must ask ourselves how we can overcome them. We will succeed in doing so only if reason and faith come together in a new way, if we overcome the self-imposed limitation of reason to the empirically falsifiable, and if we once more disclose its vast horizons. In this sense theology rightly belongs in the university and within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline and one of the human sciences, but precisely as theology, as inquiry into the rationality of faith.
Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today. In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures.
IV. FIDES ET RATION – THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FAITH AND REASON
ENCYCLICAL LETTER OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF JOHN PAUL II TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON
Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 14 September, the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, in the year 1998, the twentieth of my Pontificate.
My Venerable Brother Bishops, Health and the Apostolic Blessing!
Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2).
INTRODUCTION: "KNOW YOURSELF"
1. In both East and West, we may trace a journey which has led humanity down the centuries to meet and engage truth more and more deeply. It is a journey which has unfolded—as it must—within the horizon of personal self-consciousness: the more human beings know reality and the world, the more they know themselves in their uniqueness, with the question of the meaning of things and of their very existence becoming ever more pressing. This is why all that is the object of our knowledge becomes a part of our life. The admonition Know yourself was carved on the temple portal at Delphi, as testimony to a basic truth to be adopted as a minimal norm by those who seek to set themselves apart from the rest of creation as "human beings", that is as those who "know themselves".
Moreover, a cursory glance at ancient history shows clearly how in different parts of the world, with their different cultures, there arise at the same time the fundamental questions which pervade human life: Who am I? Where have I come from and where am I going? Why is there evil? What is there after this life? These are the questions which we find in the sacred writings of Israel, as also in the Veda and the Avesta; we find them in the writings of Confucius and Lao-Tze, and in the preaching of Tirthankara and Buddha; they appear in the poetry of Homer and in the tragedies of Euripides and Sophocles, as they do in the philosophical writings of Plato and Aristotle. They are questions which have their common source in the quest for meaning which has always compelled the human heart. In fact, the answer given to these questions decides the direction which people seek to give to their lives.
2. The Church is no stranger to this journey of discovery, nor could she ever be. From the moment when, through the Paschal Mystery, she received the gift of the ultimate truth about human life, the Church has made her pilgrim way along the paths of the world to proclaim that Jesus Christ is "the way, and the truth, and the life" (Jn 14:6). It is her duty to serve humanity in different ways, but one way in particular imposes a responsibility of a quite special kind: the diakonia of the truth. This mission on the one hand makes the believing community a partner in humanity’s shared struggle to arrive at truth; and on the other hand it obliges the believing community to proclaim the certitudes arrived at, albeit with a sense that every truth attained is but a step towards that fullness of truth which will appear with the final Revelation of God: "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully" (1 Cor 13:12).
3. Men and women have at their disposal an array of resources for generating greater knowledge of truth so that their lives may be ever more human. Among these is philosophy, which is directly concerned with asking the question of life’s meaning and sketching an answer to it. Philosophy emerges, then, as one of noblest of human tasks. According to its Greek etymology, the term philosophy means "love of wisdom". Born and nurtured when the human being first asked questions about the reason for things and their purpose, philosophy shows in different modes and forms that the desire for truth is part of human nature itself. It is an innate property of human reason to ask why things are as they are, even though the answers which gradually emerge are set within a horizon which reveals how the different human cultures are complementary.
5. On her part, the Church cannot but set great value upon reason’s drive to attain goals which render people’s lives ever more worthy. She sees in philosophy the way to come to know fundamental truths about human life. At the same time, the Church considers philosophy an indispensable help for a deeper understanding of faith and for communicating the truth of the Gospel to those who do not yet know it.
Therefore, following upon similar initiatives by my Predecessors, I wish to reflect upon this special activity of human reason. I judge it necessary to do so because, at the present time in particular, the search for ultimate truth seems often to be neglected. Modern philosophy clearly has the great merit of focusing attention upon man. From this starting-point, human reason with its many questions has developed further its yearning to know more and to know it ever more deeply. Complex systems of thought have thus been built, yielding results in the different fields of knowledge and fostering the development of culture and history. Anthropology, logic, the natural sciences, history, linguistics and so forth—the whole universe of knowledge has been involved in one way or another. Yet the positive results achieved must not obscure the fact that reason, in its one-sided concern to investigate human subjectivity, seems to have forgotten that men and women are always called to direct their steps towards a truth which transcends them. Sundered from that truth, individuals are at the mercy of caprice, and their state as person ends up being judged by pragmatic criteria based essentially upon experimental data, in the mistaken belief that technology must dominate all. It has happened therefore that reason, rather than voicing the human orientation towards truth, has wilted under the weight of so much knowledge and little by little has lost the capacity to lift its gaze to the heights, not daring to rise to the truth of being. Abandoning the investigation of being, modern philosophical research has concentrated instead upon human knowing. Rather than make use of the human capacity to know the truth, modern philosophy has preferred to accentuate the ways in which this capacity is limited and conditioned.
This has given rise to different forms of agnosticism and relativism which have led philosophical research to lose its way in the shifting sands of widespread skepticism. Recent times have seen the rise to prominence of various doctrines which tend to devalue even the truths which had been judged certain. A legitimate plurality of positions has yielded to an undifferentiated pluralism, based upon the assumption that all positions are equally valid, which is one of today’s most widespread symptoms of the lack of confidence in truth. Even certain conceptions of life coming from the East betray this lack of confidence, denying truth its exclusive character and assuming that truth reveals itself equally in different doctrines, even if they contradict one another. On this understanding, everything is reduced to opinion; and there is a sense of being adrift. While, on the one hand, philosophical thinking has succeeded in coming closer to the reality of human life and its forms of expression, it has also tended to pursue issues—existential, hermeneutical or linguistic—which ignore the radical question of the truth about personal existence, about being and about God. Hence we see among the men and women of our time, and not just in some philosophers, attitudes of widespread distrust of the human being’s great capacity for knowledge. With a false modesty, people rest content with partial and provisional truths, no longer seeking to ask radical questions about the meaning and ultimate foundation of human, personal and social existence. In short, the hope that philosophy might be able to provide definitive answers to these questions has dwindled.
11….. The truth about himself and his life which God has entrusted to humanity is immersed therefore in time and history; and it was declared once and for all in the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth. The Constitution Dei Verbum puts it eloquently: "After speaking in many places and varied ways through the prophets, God ‘last of all in these days has spoken to us by his Son’ (Heb 1:1-2). For he sent his Son, the eternal Word who enlightens all people, so that he might dwell among them and tell them the innermost realities about God (cf. Jn 1:1-18). Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, sent as ‘a human being to human beings’, ‘speaks the words of God’ (Jn 3:34), and completes the work of salvation which his Father gave him to do (cf. Jn 5:36; 17:4). To see Jesus is to see his Father (Jn 14:9). For this reason, Jesus perfected Revelation by fulfilling it through his whole work of making himself present and manifesting himself: through his words and deeds, his signs and wonders, but especially though his death and glorious Resurrection from the dead and finally his sending of the Spirit of truth".
CHAPTER II: CREDO UT INTELLEGAM
"Wisdom knows all and understands all" (Wis 9:11)
Each contains the other, and each has its own scope for action. Again the Book of Proverbs points in this direction when it exclaims: "It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out" (Prov 25:2). In their respective worlds, God and the human being are set within a unique relationship. In God there lies the origin of all things, in him is found the fullness of the mystery, and in this his glory consists; to men and women there falls the task of exploring truth with their reason, and in this their nobility consists. The Psalmist adds one final piece to this mosaic when he says in prayer: "How deep to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I try to count them, they are more than the sand. If I come to the end, I am still with you" (139:17-18). The desire for knowledge is so great and it works in such a way that the human heart, despite its experience of insurmountable limitation, yearns for the infinite riches which lie beyond, knowing that there is to be found the satisfying answer to every question as yet unanswered.
18. We may say, then, that Israel, with her reflection, was able to open to reason the path that leads to the mystery. With the Revelation of God Israel could plumb the depths of all that she sought in vain to reach by way of reason. On the basis of this deeper form of knowledge, the Chosen People understood that, if reason were to be fully true to itself, then it must respect certain basic rules. The first of these is that reason must realize that human knowledge is a journey which allows no rest; the second stems from the awareness that such a path is not for the proud who think that everything is the fruit of personal conquest; a third rule is grounded in the "fear of God" whose transcendent sovereignty and provident love in the governance of the world reason must recognize.
In abandoning these rules, the human being runs the risk of failure and ends up in the condition of “the fool”. For the Bible, in this foolishness there lies a threat to life. The fool thinks that he knows may things, but really he is incapable of fixing his gaze on the things that truly matter. Therefore he can neither order his mind (Prov 1:7) nor assume a correct attitude to himself or to the world around him. And so when he claims that "God does not exist" (cf. Ps 14:1), he shows with absolute clarity just how deficient his knowledge is and just how far he is from the full truth of things, their origin and their destiny.
30… The truths of philosophy, it should be said, are not restricted only to the sometimes ephemeral teachings of professional philosophers. All men and women, as I have noted, are in some sense philosophers and have their own philosophical conceptions with which they direct their lives. In one way or other, they shape a comprehensive vision and an answer to the question of life’s meaning; and in the light of this they interpret their own life’s course and regulate their behaviour. At this point, we may pose the question of the link between, on the one hand, the truths of philosophy and religion and, on the other, the truth revealed in Jesus Christ. But before tackling that question, one last datum of philosophy needs to be weighed.
32…. It should be stressed that the truths sought in this interpersonal relationship are not primarily empirical or philosophical. Rather, what is sought is the truth of the person—what the person is and what the person reveals from deep within. Human perfection, then, consists not simply in acquiring an abstract knowledge of the truth, but in a dynamic relationship of faithful self-giving with others. It is in this faithful self-giving that a person finds a fullness of certainty and security. At the same time, however, knowledge through belief, grounded as it is on trust between persons, is linked to truth: in the act of believing, men and women entrust themselves to the truth which the other declares to them.
33. Step by step, then, we are assembling the terms of the question. It is the nature of the human being to seek the truth. This search looks not only to the attainment of truths which are partial, empirical or scientific; nor is it only in individual acts of decision-making that people seek the true good. Their search looks towards an ulterior truth which would explain the meaning of life. And it is therefore a search which can reach its end only in reaching the absolute.Thanks to the inherent capacities of thought, man is able to encounter and recognize a truth of this kind. Such a truth—vital and necessary as it is for life—is attained not only by way of reason but also through trusting acquiescence to other persons who can guarantee the authenticity and certainty of the truth itself. There is no doubt that the capacity to entrust oneself and one’s life to another person and the decision to do so are among the most significant and expressive human acts.
It must not be forgotten that reason too needs to be sustained in all its searching by trusting dialogue and sincere friendship. A climate of suspicion and distrust, which can beset speculative research, ignores the teaching of the ancient philosophers who proposed friendship as one of the most appropriate contexts for sound philosophical enquiry.
From all that I have said to this point it emerges that men and women are on a journey of discovery which is humanly unstoppable—a search for the truth and a search for a person to whom they might entrust themselves. Christian faith comes to meet them, offering the concrete possibility of reaching the goal which they seek. Moving beyond the stage of simple believing, Christian faith immerses human beings in the order of grace, which enables them to share in the mystery of Christ, which in turn offers them a true and coherent knowledge of the Triune God. In Jesus Christ, who is the Truth, faith recognizes the ultimate appeal to humanity, an appeal made in order that what we experience as desire and nostalgia may come to its fulfillment.
36. The Acts of the Apostles provides evidence that Christian proclamation was engaged from the very first with the philosophical currents of the time. In Athens, we read, Saint Paul entered into discussion with "certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers" (17:18); and exegetical analysis of his speech at the Areopagus has revealed frequent allusions to popular beliefs deriving for the most part from Stoicism. This is by no means accidental. If pagans were to understand them, the first Christians could not refer only to "Moses and the prophets" when they spoke. They had to point as well to natural knowledge of God and to the voice of conscience in every human being (cf. Rom 1:19-21; 2:14-15; Acts 14:16-17). Since in pagan religion this natural knowledge had lapsed into idolatry (cf. Rom 1:21-32), the Apostle judged it wiser in his speech to make the link with the thinking of the philosophers, who had always set in opposition to the myths and mystery cults notions more respectful of divine transcendence.
…….. But it was the task of the fathers of philosophy to bring to light the link between reason and religion. As they broadened their view to include universal principles, they no longer rested content with the ancient myths, but wanted to provide a rational foundation for their belief in the divinity. This opened a path which took its rise from ancient traditions but allowed a development satisfying the demands of universal reason. This development sought to acquire a critical awareness of what they believed in, and the concept of divinity was the prime beneficiary of this. Superstitions were recognized for what they were and religion was, at least in part, purified by rational analysis. It was on this basis that the Fathers of the Church entered into fruitful dialogue with ancient philosophy, which offered new ways of proclaiming and understanding the God of Jesus Christ.
37. In tracing Christianity’s adoption of philosophy, one should not forget how cautiously Christians regarded other elements of the cultural world of paganism, one example of which is gnosticism. It was easy to confuse philosophy—understood as practical wisdom and an education for life—with a higher and esoteric kind of knowledge, reserved to those few who were perfect. It is surely this kind of esoteric speculation which Saint Paul has in mind when he puts the Colossians on their guard: "See to it that no-one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe and not according to Christ" (2:8). The Apostle’s words seem all too pertinent now if we apply them to the various kinds of esoteric superstition widespread today, even among some believers who lack a proper critical sense. Following Saint Paul, other writers of the early centuries, especially Saint Irenaeus and Tertullian, sound the alarm when confronted with a cultural perspective which sought to subordinate the truth of Revelation to the interpretation of the philosophers.
38… That seems still more evident today, if we think of Christianity’s contribution to the affirmation of the right of everyone to have access to the truth. In dismantling barriers of race, social status and gender, Christianity proclaimed from the first the equality of all men and women before God. One prime implication of this touched the theme of truth. The elitism which had characterized the ancients’ search for truth was clearly abandoned. Since access to the truth enables access to God, it must be denied to none. There are many paths which lead to truth, but since Christian truth has a salvific value, any one of these paths may be taken, as long as it leads to the final goal, that is to the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
43. A quite special place in this long development belongs to Saint Thomas, not only because of what he taught but also because of the dialogue which he undertook with the Arab and Jewish thought of his time. In an age when Christian thinkers were rediscovering the treasures of ancient philosophy, and more particularly of Aristotle, Thomas had the great merit of giving pride of place to the harmony which exists between faith and reason. Both the light of reason and the light of faith come from God, he argued; hence there can be no contradiction between them.(44)
More radically, Thomas recognized that nature, philosophy’s proper concern, could contribute to the understanding of divine Revelation. Faith therefore has no fear of reason, but seeks it out and has trust in it. Just as grace builds on nature and brings it to fulfillment, so faith builds upon and perfects reason. Illumined by faith, reason is set free from the fragility and limitations deriving from the disobedience of sin and finds the strength required to rise to the knowledge of the Triune God. Although he made much of the supernatural character of faith, the Angelic Doctor did not overlook the importance of its reasonableness; indeed he was able to plumb the depths and explain the meaning of this reasonableness.
The drama of the separation of faith and reason
45. With the rise of the first universities, theology came more directly into contact with other forms of learning and scientific research. Although they insisted upon the organic link between theology and philosophy, Saint Albert the Great and Saint Thomas were the first to recognize the autonomy which philosophy and the sciences needed if they were to perform well in their respective fields of research. From the late Medieval period onwards, however, the legitimate distinction between the two forms of learning became more and more a fateful separation. As a result of the exaggerated rationalism of certain thinkers, positions grew more radical and there emerged eventually a philosophy which was separate from and absolutely independent of the contents of faith. Another of the many consequences of this separation was an ever deeper mistrust with regard to reason itself. In a spirit both skeptical and agnostic, some began to voice a general mistrust, which led some to focus more on faith and others to deny its rationality altogether.
In short, what for Patristic and Medieval thought was in both theory and practice a profound unity, producing knowledge capable of reaching the highest forms of speculation, was destroyed by systems which espoused the cause of rational knowledge sundered from faith and meant to take the place of faith.
46. The more influential of these radical positions are well known and high in profile, especially in the history of the West. It is not too much to claim that the development of a good part of modern philosophy has seen it move further and further away from Christian Revelation, to the point of setting itself quite explicitly in opposition. This process reached its apogee in the last century. Some representatives of idealism sought in various ways to transform faith and its contents, even the mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, into dialectical structures which could be grasped by reason. Opposed to this kind of thinking were various forms of atheistic humanism, expressed in philosophical terms, which regarded faith as alienating and damaging to the development of a full rationality. They did not hesitate to present themselves as new religions serving as a basis for projects which, on the political and social plane, gave rise to totalitarian systems which have been disastrous for humanity.
In the field of scientific research, a positivistic mentality took hold which not only abandoned the Christian vision of the world, but more especially rejected every appeal to a metaphysical or moral vision. It follows that certain scientists, lacking any ethical point of reference, are in danger of putting at the centre of their concerns something other than the human person and the entirety of the person’s life. Further still, some of these, sensing the opportunities of technological progress, seem to succumb not only to a market-based logic, but also to the temptation of a quasi-divine power over nature and even over the human being.
As a result of the crisis of rationalism, what has appeared finally is nihilism. As a philosophy of nothingness, it has a certain attraction for people of our time. Its adherents claim that the search is an end in itself, without any hope or possibility of ever attaining the goal of truth. In the nihilist interpretation, life is no more than an occasion for sensations and experiences in which the ephemeral has pride of place. Nihilism is at the root of the widespread mentality which claims that a definitive commitment should no longer be made, because everything is fleeting and provisional.
47. It should also be borne in mind that the role of philosophy itself has changed in modern culture. From universal wisdom and learning, it has been gradually reduced to one of the many fields of human knowing; indeed in some ways it has been consigned to a wholly marginal role. Other forms of rationality have acquired an ever higher profile, making philosophical learning appear all the more peripheral. These forms of rationality are directed not towards the contemplation of truth and the search for the ultimate goal and meaning of life; but instead, as "instrumental reason", they are directed—actually or potentially—towards the promotion of utilitarian ends, towards enjoyment or power.
48. This rapid survey of the history of philosophy, then, reveals a growing separation between faith and philosophical reason. Yet closer scrutiny shows that even in the philosophical thinking of those who helped drive faith and reason further apart there are found at times precious and seminal insights which, if pursued and developed with mind and heart rightly tuned, can lead to the discovery of truth’s way….. But this does not mean that the link between faith and reason as it now stands does not need to be carefully examined, because each without the other is impoverished and enfeebled. Deprived of what Revelation offers, reason has taken side-tracks which expose it to the danger of losing sight of its final goal. Deprived of reason, faith has stressed feeling and experience, and so run the risk of no longer being a universal proposition. It is an illusion to think that faith, tied to weak reasoning, might be more penetrating; on the contrary, faith then runs the grave risk of withering into myth or superstition. By the same token, reason which is unrelated to an adult faith is not prompted to turn its gaze to the newness and radicality of being.
100… The Church remains profoundly convinced that faith and reason "mutually support each other"; each influences the other, as they offer to each other a purifying critique and a stimulus to pursue the search for deeper understanding.