We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Bishop Sheen once said “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”
That includes many people raised Catholic.
Part of this is anti-Catholic propaganda; part of this is confusing Catholicism with other denominations; much of this is pure culpable ignorance.
In early adolescence, I thought I was an atheist. That did not last; but it took me many years of intense searching to claw my way back to where I needed to begin.
Hoping to save others much wasted time and suffering, I want to look at one common fallacy, a very grave one, one that troubled me.
It is the faith thing.
People think faith means believing things without evidence. I remember at one point explaining that I could not accept Western religion because it demanded a “leap of faith.”
|The postmodern leap of faith.|
This comes at least in part from Luther, who believed in “salvation by faith alone.”
News flash: Luther was not Catholic.
Faith is important in Catholicism, but it does not mean choosing to believe something. That is postmodernism, and that is Satanic. Let me make that clear: that is Satanic. A moral person must seek the objective truth, wherever that may lead.
“Faith,” dating in English from the 14th century, means primarily “The fulfilment of a trust or promise, and related senses.” (OED). As in “keep faith,” or “keep the faith”: to be loyal to one’s commitments. This is pretty much its Catholic sense as well: to stay the course. To go to mass, to keep the commandments, to run the race, to fight the good fight. It has nothing to do with deciding to believe or not believe in the existence of God; it was clear enough to me by the age of 18 that this was a smokescreen question, an avoidance of the issue. The existence of God is not in doubt. It is demonstrable.
“Our holy mother, the Church, holds and teaches that God, the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason.”
- Vatican Council I, Dei Filius 2: DS 3004.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of convincing proofs of the existence of God. Only a fool could say in his heart “there is no God.” The Bible takes no trouble to make the case: it is self-evident.
There is a second meaning of “faith,” in the religious context. OED: “the capacity to spiritually apprehend divine truths, or realities beyond the limits of perception or of logical proof.” While the existence of God is apparent to reason, his nature is self-evidently beyond our comprehension. In places where reason cannot be employed, faith must be resorted to: we must take things we cannot understand “on faith.” These are the things the Church calls “sacred mysteries”: the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Resurrection.
Conversely, anyone who takes anything “on faith” that he cannot think through for himself, or simply chooses to believe something despite contrary evidence, is guilty of the deadly sin of acedia. This is one of the Seven Sins that lead to sure damnation.