The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Higher Things

It may well happen that what is in itself the more certain may seem to us the less certain because of the weakness of our intellect, which is dazzled by the clearest objects of nature; as the owl is dazzled by the light of the sun. Hence the fact that some happen to doubt about the articles of faith is not due to the uncertain nature of the truths, but to the weakness of the human intellect; yet the slenderest knowledge that may be obtained of the highest things is more desirable than the most certain knowledge obtained by the lowest things as said in "De Animalibus."
St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologiae

Aquinas quotes Aristotle's famous psychological treatise regarding the nature of things to help bring home the point that one's doubts are in essence a poor defense against a reality one does not understand. Such was the case when Aristotle pondered the matter in the mid-300s BC; endured when Aquinas expounded upon it a thousand years later; and today, in the twenty-first century, it holds true.

And while this great doctor of Church was writing about whether sacred scripture is nobler than other sciences; a point which he wonderfully proves true, the concept easily works for any number of circumstances or issues. How often the most certain path gets chosen for no other reason than it offers the way of least resistance or greatest comfort even if the truth gets denied in the process.

The abortion debate proves a good example of this. Science has proven that human life begins at conception. Once sperm and egg unite to become one cell, if left to its own devices, a human being becomes visible to all some nine months later. Yet there exists a window of 270 days when said human stays concealed in her mother's womb, and during this period that individual faces the greatest risk of dying an unnatural death than any other time in her earthly life. This can be said. One in four pregnancies in America is ended by force. The chief cause of death being that what is not seen must not be real and therefor subjected to the weakness of human intellect which would choose fear of inconvenience in its many manifestations over the reality that life, human life, gets terminated by abortion.

The reality of Christ provides another proof to examine. Countless interpretations of Our Lord exist to form the basis of thousands of protestant faiths. As Pope Benedict reflected in his book, Jesus of Nazareth, most of these interpretations are reflections of one's personal bias versus the reality of who the Christ really is. The true Christ, the risen Christ as revealed in the Gospels and the mass gets substituted for lessor versions that conform with one's personal preferences. For some, Christ was a great man like Buddha or Gandhi but certainly not the actual son of God. Others view Christ as the oppressor of freedom laying down all kinds of moral standards impossible for any one person to follow. Then there flourishes the Christ as the nice guy who takes an anything goes attitude towards life. The human intellect prefers to shape Christ to fit its needs versus doing the work to consider and meditate upon the infinitely more beautiful reality of God entering into humanity.

Even a cursory examination of the current day's economic crisis reveals that man chased after that which dazzled versus that which proved real. Ethics declined and markets collapsed. A reality that the Bloomberg Press reported to have been a prophecy of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger back in 1985.

The lower things that Aquinas speaks of are easy to know for more often than not, they are those very things that require the least amount of effort and thought. To choose the higher things such as faith, hope, love, and the self-sacrifice that accompanies each of those things one is called to abide within requires a dependence upon something that transcends human reason. It requires an openness to the will and the true love of God who created and ensouled each and every human being.

To experience this requires not the depth of insight achieved by St. Thomas Aquinas, but rather as Aristotle suggested merely the slenderest of knowledge of those higher purposes. With that, our Heavenly Father can and does work with.


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