January 21, 2009

A Church of the Mind

Justin Katz

Among the factors that drew me to the Roman Catholic Church is that it essentially rejects the construct that insists that faith and reason are opposing sources of knowledge. They're not; they blend and overlap and are ultimately inseparable. On those grounds, and with consideration of the times in which we live, Rev. Joseph Lennon, of Providence College, issues a call for the renewal of a Catholic intelligentsia:

Love of learning for its own sake, a conviction that reason will prevail, a consuming desire bordering on obsession to get to the root causes of things — these are keys unlocking the door to an understanding of the intellectual. Democritus declared he would rather discover a single demonstration than win the throne of Persia. Thomas Aquinas became so enraptured with ideas that he would often forget to eat and drink. Once Thomas' absorption in theological speculation grew so intense he felt no pain while having his injured leg cauterized. ...

Catholics deem it sinful to revile or ignore reason, so intellectuals are warmly embraced by the Church. Thomas Aquinas exalted reason to a degree that seemed scandalous and sacrilegious to the reformers who came 300 years after him. One of the meanings of Logos in St. John's Gospel is Reason, and Logos is God. So, under penalty of blaspheming God, Catholics dare not be anti-reason and therefore anti-intellectual. ...

In defending supernatural revelation against heresy, the Church, at the same time defends natural reason and the primacy of the intellect over the will, the emotions, the instincts or any of the other faculties to which voluntarism always appeals.

The times do require a public voice tempered with the confident conviction that only the interlocking gears of faith and reason can instill.

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"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)."

Pope John Paul the Great, Fides et ratio

Posted by: brassband at January 21, 2009 9:00 PM
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