Daily Archives: March 27, 2012

Faith And Love

No, he really had no doubts....

One of the greatest graces in my life – possibly, if I think of the possible reward, the greatest – is a robust faith.

Faith to me was never something I had to reach to, or to fight for. I remember perfectly well a time in which I could not read or write, and perfectly well knew that there is God; and I remember this feeling was so natural I would not have doubted it more than I could  have doubted the existence of the sun.

It went on when I was a little child, but at this point the “Person I knew Was There” (not in the sense that I saw him, or perceived him physically; but in the sense I knew he was there in the same way as you know your mother exists even if she is not in the room, and you know her love is with you even if she is not physically there) had a name: God. I actually still remember very well the moment and the place I was told the name, and remember thinking with childish surprise “ah, so that is his name: God”.

In the first school years, when as every other child I became more open toward external sensations and contacts, this knowledge remained very strong. It was, just, there.

This clear knowledge – a diffused knowledge, but which did not admit doubt; the same as when you know you’re healthy even if you don’t think continuously “I am healthy”; it is just there  – decreased in my teenage years, and when I was sixteen-seventeen had become rather tenuous. I can’t say there has been a day in my life I didn’t believe in God, but certainly there were days in my life I knew I didn’t believe so strongly as I used to do. I remember comparing it with a flame, once very big and warm but now smaller and smaller, and you can see it’s still there, but start to wonder whether the time will ever come when you can’t see it anymore.

When (as I know now, and did not know then) the hormonal tempests of the inordinate growth started to subside, I started to notice the flame was, gradually, getting bigger and bigger; when I was twenty-one I’d have rather doubted the existence of my own right hand than God’s. By the grace of God, and an healthy prayer life even before I started to practice again – this is another thing I always did without any constriction and fully spontaneously – things have remained so since, and I pray they may remain so to the day I die.

Strangely, since a child I have been considered rather intelligent, but I never ever had a non-believer wondering how I could, being rather smart, believe in God.  I must have been a problem to them, because if you think I believe in fairies then you’re saying I’m stupid, and if you go around saying I’m stupid I am probably not the one who is going to look it. The atheists condemn belief as a tale in abstract, but have more difficulties in condemning otherwise rather intelligent people as children, as all those believing in tales must be.

Still, I am one of those cases – a minority I think, but by no means rare – of faith which never had to be conquered, and never was seriously put in doubt. I never had a vocation, either, and I assume that those who have must feel it in them in the same unquestionable way as one feels he is in love, or that there is God.

Some people never got this thing of the certainty, and thought – for some reason known only to them – that the one who doubts be, in some secret way, in a better position than the man who knows; or more intelligent, or more intellectual, or more profound.  Bollocks.

Think about being in love. There’s no doubt those who have never been in love must be unable to even start to conceive what it is, to be really in love. They might argue for hours about the self-delusion of those people thinking that they are in love, and bla bla, and bla bla. Meanwhile, those in love do not doubt in the least of the existence of this most powerful force, and have only a sad and sympathetic smile for those who don’t believe in love’s existence.  How much do they miss. They miss, very simply, a different plane of existence, and say it’s not there because they’ve never been there, and can’t arrive there.

Alas, in my case faith never had such a violent grip on me as love. In some people, though, it has, and among those the St Francis and St. Clare  are born. They simply believed with the passion of the lover.

This different plane of reality – something which doesn’t need science to be demonstrated more than love would – fully escapes the atheists. They are like ants solemnly declaring there is no Milky Way, because they haven’t found it in their ant-books.

Now, of course this kind of faith – inborn, so to speak, and more mystical than rational – is not a grace given to everyone, but merely one of those graces God distributes around in a seemingly random way: some are born witty, some intelligent, some tall, some strong, some rich, some healthy; some, with an inborn faith.

This kind of faith is not given to everyone. Still, to pretty much everyone reason is given, and grace to inspire this reason to the right steps, and the ability to pray that one may be given faith, and the humility to move slowly but surely in the right direction until one arrives. Knock, and all that. Here you see another clear mark of the atheist: he refuses the honest search, let alone the earnest one. He behaves like the one who does not believe in love, mocks all those who have experienced it, and positively refuses to be, so to speak, open to the possibility of falling in love. Alas, he will more easily be cured from the second error than from the first, then God requires from most people that they put some solid effort, or at least start some serious questioning, or at least show some humility.

From some, he seems not to require this effort. He makes someone rich, someone beautiful, someone witty, someone healthy, someone intelligent. To some others,  he gives unquestioning faith. Then he sends them around to quarrel, and write blogs. They well should, because like those in love they do not doubt, they simply know.


Some Quotations On Capital Punishment

Mastro Titta, the legendary executioner of more than 500 death sentences in.... the Papal States.

I have found here  some interesting quotations about the Death Penalty. Please refrain from commenting about the site.

 St. Augustine

The same divine authority that forbids the killing of a human being establishes certain exceptions, as when God authorizes killing by a general law or when He gives an explicit commission to an individual for a limited time.

The agent who executes the killing does not commit homicide; he is an instrument as is the sword with which he cuts. Therefore, it is in no way contrary to the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill’ to wage war at God’s bidding, or for the representatives of public authority to put criminals to death, according to the law, that is, the will of the most just reason.

(The City of God, Book 1, chapter 21

St. Thomas Aquinas

It is written: “Wizards thou shalt not suffer to live” (Ex. 22:18); and: “In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land” (Ps. 100:8). …

Every part is directed to the whole, as imperfect to perfect, wherefore every part exists naturally for the sake of the whole. For this reason we see that if the health of the whole human body demands the excision of a member, because it became putrid or infectious to the other members, it would be both praiseworthy and healthful to have it cut away. Now every individual person is related to the entire society as a part to the whole. Therefore if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and healthful that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good, since “a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6).

(Summa Theologiae, II, II, q. 64, art. 2)

The fact that the evil ones, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement.

They also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so obstinate that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from malice, it is possible to make a quite probable judgment that they would never come away from evil.”

(Summa contra gentiles, Book III, chapter 146)

Innocent I

The first Pope to take a stand in favor of the death penalty was Innocent I in the year 405. In response to a query from the Bishop of Toulouse, Pope Innocent I based his position on Paul’s Letter to the Romans.

He wrote: It must be remembered that power was granted by God [to the magistrates], and to avenge crime by the sword was permitted. He who carries out this vengeance is God’s minister (Rm 13:1-4). Why should we condemn a practice that all hold to be permitted by God? We uphold, therefore, what has been observed until now, in order not to alter the discipline and so that we may not appear to act contrary to God’s authority.

(Innocent 1, Epist. 6, C. 3. 8, ad Exsuperium, Episcopum Tolosanum,
20 February 405, PL 20,495)

Innocent III
The secular power can without mortal sin carry out a sentence of death, provided it proceeds in imposing the penalty not from hatred but with judgment, not carelessly but with due solicitude.

(Innocent III, DS 795/425)

Pius XII

Even in the case of the death penalty the State does not dispose of the individual’s right to life. Rather public authority limits itself to depriving the offender of the good of life in expiation for his guilt, after he, through his crime, deprived himself of his own right to life.

(Pius XII, Address to the First International Congress of Histopathology
of the Nervous System, 14 September 1952, XIV, 328)

Catechism of the Council of Trent

The power of life and death is permitted to certain civil magistrates because theirs is the responsibility under law to punish the guilty and protect the innocent. Far from being guilty of breaking this commandment [Thy shall not kill], such an execution of justice is precisely an act of obedience to it. For the purpose of the law is to protect and foster human life. This purpose is fulfilled when the legitimate authority of the State is exercised by taking the guilty lives of those who have taken innocent lives.

In the Psalms we find a vindication of this right: “Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all evildoers from the city of the Lord” (Ps. 101:8).

(Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1566, Part III, 5, n. 4)

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