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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Yes, Faithful People Can Still Be (And Often Are) Intelligent, Too!

From Contributor Doug:

“Jesus said to him {Thomas}, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.’” (John: 20, 29.)

A female co-member of a group to which I belong to inevitably winds up sitting at or near me at our annual dinner, ironically around Christmas time. I say ironically because it is during this season of the birth of our Savior that I typically again hear this woman touting how she left the Catholic faith because it insulted her intelligence. I also once remember reading somewhere a nasty quip by another Catholic dissident who claimed she left the faith because the thought Jesus had more answers to her questions than the Pope. I guess the rest of us are just simple minded idiots. Or are we?

My dictionary partially defines "faith" as an “unquestioning” belief in God. I beg to differ with the good Mr. Webster on that summary.

Having accomplished all that she did, Mother Teresa was far from stupid, yet she was certainly faithful. But at the same time, she also experienced and survived a period of grave doubt. Mother Teresa I’m not, but I am faithful, and while hardly a rocket scientist, I don’t consider myself a stupid person either, yet I have had questions, too. Asking questions is natural and even prudent. It’s how we handle those questions that really matters, as per # 26 of the Catechism: "Faith is man's response to God, who reveals himself and gives himself to man, at the same time bringing man a superabundant light as he searches for the ultimate meaning of his life." Thus, the quest is OK, but our path needs to be illuminated to see where we are going. Such is faith.

In his talks telecast on EWTN, Father Corapi addressed this issue at least a couple different times. On one occasion, he cited once being chastised for his traditional beliefs by a moral relavist nun, who sarcastically dismissed him as not being too bright, so he then acquired his numerous undergraduate and graduate degrees and later spoke to that same nun again. The second time, she accused him of being too conservative. In another talk, Father Corapi used the Holy Trinity as an example, admitting that he also cannot fathom how God can be three beings in one, and most if not all of us would also be hard pressed to explain that one. Such is one of God’s many mysteries. Father Corapi simplified the question by simply suggesting that we acknowledge that it is above our ability to explain it, and to thus simply accept it instead.

But isn’t that really the true test of faith? The dictionary also offers the definition of “loyalty.” When we are of average or even higher intelligence, and believe contrary to that which we cannot explain, isn’t that true faith to God, and indeed, “loyalty”? Faith infers belief without seeing proof. And it does not have to be rocket science, nor is it an insult to anyone’s intelligence.

As Catholics, we believe in apostolic succession, Jesus, our High Priest, ordained his apostles, and one of them, Peter, became our first Pope, as so appointed by Jesus. (“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.“ Matthew:16, 18). It is through this same apostolic succession, as well as history, tradition and scripture, that Jesus, and not just the Pope, answers our questions through the (Catholic) Church, the original Christian Church, instituted by Jesus Himself, and then onward through Peter.

As Catholics, we believe that our Church’s teaching our absolute truth. To deny them is heresy. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen once noted, “absolute truth” is still “absolute truth,” despite how many, or how few people believe it.

As beings created by God, our intelligence is truly blessing, but it is also finite. What our intelligence cannot explain, faith must.

Perhaps it is these allegedly far more “intelligent” people who are in true need of education, specifically via evangelization. One of the admission requirements to Heaven is humility, but not an I.Q. test, as Jesus said in Luke, 18, 17:” Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Is it little wonder that Jesus tells us in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”? (Matthew 5:5.)

Thus if we intend to enter Heaven, our chances are far greater by doing so with the trusting humility of a child, and not by haughtily tossing around 95 cent words, erroneously thinking we are actually impressing someone. And remember, who is often referred to as the gatekeeper to the Pearly Gates? Peter!

I’ve used these quotes before and I continue to do so because they are so beautifully sage, simplistic and applicable: “Humility is the mother of all salvation” (St. Bernard), and “Pray, hope and don’t worry” (St. Padre Pio, my adopted Patron Saint).

Thus my parting advice: Keep the faith! It’s the smart thing to do!

Peace,
Doug

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