Daily Archives: September 21, 2010
Fundamentals of Faith
On the upper list of links of this page, under “Catholic vademecum”, you will find a more detailed explanation of Faith in the traditional understanding of the Church.
In times of discussion about “aggressive secularisation”, it is perhaps fitting to repeat a concept or two in reduced form.
The Faith required of every Christian is not a feeling. No atheist can excuse himself by saying that he is very sorry, but he just doesn’t feel the existence of any God; nor can he say that if an omnipotent God existed he could cause him to believe and that would be that, but alas…..
Faith is something we are expected to work towards. To do this, two things are necessary: will and intellect. Without the will to believe we’ll go along believing what we find comfortable to believe; without the intellect we will not be able to grasp the Truth.
God can be “known with certainty by the natural light of human reason” (Vatican I). By reason we discover 1) the historical truth of the existence of Jesus; 2) that this Jesus is, by a great number of prophecies realised in Him, beyond doubt the Messiah the Jews were waiting for; 3) that therefore his claim to be God must perforce be as authentic as His authentically being the Messiah.
The fundamental concept here is twofold:
1) God can be known with certainty, if one cares to do his homework;
2) no one is excused from doing this homework.
“Not believing” is neither here nor there. It is not about “believing” as in “feeling that there is a God”, it is about working on the historical and theological sources, reading the prophesies about the Messiah and register as a matter of pure facts the astonishing number of correspondences between what the Messiah was supposed to be, and what Jesus came to be. Faith is about realising 1) that the Christian Messiah was, uniquely, announced; 2) that when he came he showed that he was the One who had been announced, and that he was God.
Jesus is the only one who proved His identity, who proved that he was the one whom the world was waiting for. No amount of uninformed “but I do not believe in God, so I do not care” can ever go beyond this simple fact.
Faith (in this meaning) is not about angels visiting one and giving him assured proof of the existence of God, nor is it about explosive inner voices shouting until reason gets the message.
Faith is an assent to a truth believed because known from a source one has examined intellectually and has considered beyond doubt. If someone tells me that the Earth rotates around the sun, or that water is made out of hydrogen and oxygen, I believe this pretty much in the same way: I believe the authority on which the assertion rests, because this authority stands the exam of my intellect.
Faith is about doing one’s own homework. As it has to do with eternal salvation, there’s no work more important than this.
Rome and Canterbury compared
Another brilliant article by Stephen Glover on the Daily Mail.
Glover points out, with great clarity, to some striking facts:
1) Benedict’s authority eclipses Rowan Williams’
2) Irrespective of authority, Benedict has the guts to say things straight and Rowan Williams hasn’t.
3) There is a thirst for religious values. The coE can’t satisfy it. It doesn’t even want.
4) The atheist crowd has been silenced and exposed for what they are: haters. But they hate Benedict, not RW, because the latter is no threat at all.
Let us read some of the most striking passages of this eye-opening article.
“In a manner wholly unlike our home-grown clerics, the Pope spoke to the soul of our country, affirming eternal moral verities which our own political and religious leaders normally prefer to avoid”.
“Pope Benedict’s declarations over the past few days have been remarkable and, in modern Britain, virtually unprecedented”.
It is almost a shock to hear a religious leader speak in so blunt a way, so inured are we to our own religious leaders, particularly Church of England bishops, accommodating themselves to secular values.
(I would add here: Catholic bishops are not bad at accommodating secular values, either)
“The tragedy is that Dr Williams and Anglican bishops probably agree with almost everything Pope Benedict said about the dangers of secularism – and yet they do not have the courage, or whatever it takes, to say it”.
And whereas the Pope speaks clearly in English, which is his third or fourth language, Dr Williams often speaks opaquely or in riddles in the language that is his own.
(true.. 😉 ).
In his concluding address, Pope Benedict said that he had discovered ‘how deep a thirst there is among the British people for the good news of Jesus Christ’. He is right. And yet how often our national Church – the Church of England – fails to proclaim this good news.
In large parts of the Anglican Church there is a sense of defeatism in the face of the incoming tide of secularism, as congregations dwindle and parish churches close. But look at the young people in Hyde Park or those lining Princes Street in Edinburgh or those standing outside Westminster Cathedral. They yearn for the good news, and they invite moral certainty. Would it be too much to hope that Anglican bishops might learn something from the fearless commitment of the Pope?
Speaking of the aggressive anti-Catholic atheists, Glover writes:
Their foaming and often unbalanced denunciations of the Pope reveal their fear. They fear him because he adheres so strongly to traditional Christian teaching and champions principles they abhor. They fear him because the values he reiterates commend themselves to millions of people and, above all, to millions of young people. They do not trouble to vent their spite and vitriol on the Archbishop of Canterbury because Dr Williams has been so cowed by the forces of secularism that he no longer poses any threat to their bleak vision.
In invoking the heritage of our Christian past, and suggesting we might still have a principled Christian future, Benedict XVI has achieved more than the Church of England over many years. The lesson of the past few days is that Britain is not quite the deeply un-Christian country that the BBC and other parts of the media would have us believe.
Of course, Mr. Glover doesn’t get it completely right. He describes papal infallibility as “bizarre” and doesn’t even stop to reflect what be so “bizarre” in it, or to wonder whether he has perchance not just assisted to infallibility at work.
Still, this is a remarkably outspoken article making clear that the country can recover its values and that a courageous Pope, not the so-called church of England is the one able to do the job.
I imagine that a good part of the Daily Mail reader, whilst not Catholic, feel an instinctive sympathy not only for the courage of the man Benedict, but for the courage of an institution not ready to accommodate her principles to those of the world. One can only hope that in time, this vague perception may become in many a more profound feeling and identification with Christian values and the acknowledgment that those values cannot be adequately defended by imitations, but only by the Original.
Beautiful Anti-Abortion Video Is Almost a Mini-Documentary
From the blog of John Smeaton, the Director of SPUC, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, comes this beautiful video of around five minutes about the “life” of a child in the womb.
The video gives even to the non-initiated powerful insights about what happens during a pregnancy. One sees it and understands why anti-abortion activists go with ultrasound trucks in front of abortion clinics: it is difficult to conceive that a woman might see the life developing inside her (and at that point, she will have to realise that it is a human life, period) and go on with the abortion. Due to the depth of the information and the clarity of the images, this video is a more powerful tool than every 30-second commercial.
Viewing and forwarding highly recommended.
P.s. Music alarm! So sugary that it could seriously harm your health! You have been warned… 😉
Dialogue, Fulton Sheen Style: A Michael Voris Video
It is very interesting to know that in 1976, Michael Voris was altar boy at the Mass celebrated by Archbishop Fulton Sheen to commemorate Independence.
More interesting still is the vivid portrait Voris makes of the man, both in his human quality and fervent patriotism and in his, well, utterly “un-chareeetable” approach to “ecumenical dialogue”.
If you look at the video (for which you might have to register, which is fast and free) you’ll see how saintly men deal with those who want to “improve” Catholicism.
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