Tag Archives: faith and reason

Blair defends the role faith

Tony Blair is defending the place of faith in public discourse and saying that it needs to show itself in action. The some time British Prime Minister entered into full communion with the Catholic Church following his leaving public office.

Can you give reasons for your belief in Jesus Christ? If so, are you truly following Christ and being a good-enough witness of the Gospel and the Church?

Follow Blair’s foundation, The Tony Blair Faith Foundation

American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile, the latest by Richard John Neuhaus


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I am still saddened by the death of Father Richard John Neuhaus. Many are. I pray for him regularly at Mass and while saying the rosary and I find myself wondering what he’d say about this or that today. First Things arrived the other day and I shelved it temporarily because I’ve got other things to read first (what, I am not going to drop everything to read FT???); I look forward with eagerness to read to First Things

One of the last gifts he gave to us is the forthcoming book, American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile. It’s not a book from the grave as it was in production long before RJN got ill and died. I am looking forward to it as I have looked forward to everything RJN wrote for publication or said in the public forum.

Available from Amazon. A Google preview of American Babylon.

Product description


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Christians are by their nature a people out of place. Their true home is with God; in civic life, they are alien citizens “in but not of the world.” In American Babylon, eminent theologian Richard John Neuhaus examines the particular truth of that ambiguity for Catholics in America today.

Neuhaus addresses the essential quandaries of Catholic life–assessing how Catholics can keep their heads above water in the sea of immorality that confronts them in the world, how they can be patriotic even though their true country is not in this world, and how they might reconcile their duties as citizens with their commitment to God. Deeply learned, frequently combative, and always eloquent, American Babylon is Neuhaus’s magnum opus–and will be essential reading for all Christians.

Let me recommend to you the Richard John Neuhaus Online Archive, a well stocked blog of materials by or on Father Richard.

Understanding Man: Darwin, biology and God

A press conference at the Vatican yesterday, considered the forthcoming conference on Darwin & theology. The presentation can be viewed at the Vatican’s YouTube site. Here’s the H2O News report.

The March 3-7 conference will take place in Rome on “Biological Evolution, Facts and Theories” and was presented by Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of that pontifical council. The conference will mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his “Origin of the Species.” The University of Notre Dame, the Gregorian University and the Pontifical Council for Culture are co-sponsoring the event on faith and reason (science) to demonstrate that faith and reason are complementary NOT at odds with each other as is commonly thought.

Jesuit Father Marc Leclerc said: “It’s not in the least about a celebration in honor of the English scientist; it’s simply about analyzing an event that marked for all time the history of science and that has influenced the way of understanding our very humanity.”

The organizers said on the website: There will be nine sessions where academics will treat the “idea that science, on the one hand, and theology, on the other, represent different fields of analysis and interpretation, though often they are incorrectly overlapped, causing confusion and ideological controversies.”

More information on Biological Evolution, Facts and Theories: www.evolution-rome2009.net.

 

Galileo: 400 years since the first use of the telescope

IYA 2009.jpgNow that we are more than half finished with the Year of Saint Paul, a year dedicated to celebrating the 2000th anniversary of the Apostle to the Gentile’s birth by getting to know Saint Paul through intellectual, spiritual and cultural events, let us now turn our gaze onto a rather significant figure of our western intellectual history, Galileo. 2009 has been named the International Year of Astronomy to observe the fact that Galileo made some significant studies of our galaxy. The International Year of Astronomy (IYA) proposes to observe the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first astronomical use of the telescope.

The goals of the IYA 2009 are to:

Increase scientific awareness;

Promote widespread access to new knowledge and observing experiences;

Support and improve formal and informal science education;

Provide a modern image of science and scientists;

Facilitate new networks and strengthen existing ones;

Facilitate the preservation and protection of the world’s cultural and natural heritage of dark skies in places such as urban oases, national parks and astronomical sites.


Galileo Presenting Scopel.jpgSome interesting things

The Vatican Observatory

Astronomy 2009

Galileo 2009 sponsored by Euresis, an Association for the Promotion of Scientific Endeavor

100 Hours of Astonomy 2-5 April 2009

The January 6th, 2009 homily of Pope Benedict mentioning the IYA 2009 

Reflections by Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., on the Pope’s salute to those participating in the IYA 2009

A. C. Crombie, Augustine to Galileo: The History of Science A.D. 400-1650 (an online book)

Blessed John Duns Scotus: A model for maintaining faith & reason

Pope Benedict XVI wrote a letter to the Archbishop of Cologne and those participating in the International Scientific Congress on the occasion of the seventh centenary of Blessed John Duns Scotus’ death. What relevance does a letter was written in October 2008 by the pope have for us today? Why remember Blessed John at all? Faith and reason working together in the heart of the Church!!! They are not in opposition to each other. Catholics are known to work intimately with faith and reason and Scotus is a prime example of the tradition. But you don’t need me to tell you that.

Read the pope:

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Rejoice, City of Cologne, which once welcomed within your walls John Duns Scotus, a most learned and devout man, who passed from this life to the heavenly Homeland on 8 November 1308; and, whose remains you preserve with great admiration and veneration.

Our Venerable Predecessors, the Servants of God Paul VI and John Paul II, exalted him with lofty praise; we too would like to surround him with the praise he deserves and invoke his protection.

Thus the seventh centenary of his pious passing is now being celebrated, as is only right. And while articles and entire works in honour of Bl. John Duns Scotus are being published in various parts of the world and congresses are being held, including the solemn Congress currently being prepared that will take place in Cologne from 5 to 9 November 2008, we consider it a duty of our service in this circumstance to say a few words about this most illustrious man who so distinguished himself by contributing to the progress of the doctrine of the Church and of human science.

Indeed, combining piety with scientific research, in accordance with his invocation: “May the First Principle of things grant me to believe, to understand and to reveal what may please his majesty and may raise our minds to contemplate him”, with his refined brilliance he penetrated so deeply the secrets of natural and revealed truth, and found in them a doctrine which led him to be called Doctor Ordinis, Doctor Subtilis, and Doctor Marianus, becoming a teacher and guide of the Franciscan School, a light and example to the entire Christian People.

Thus we desire to remind scholars and everyone, believers and non-believers alike, of the path and method that Scotus followed in order to establish harmony between faith and reason, defining in this manner the nature of theology in order constantly to exalt action, influence, practice and love rather than pure speculation; in fulfilling this task he let himself be guided by the Magisterium of the Church and by a sound critical sense regarding growth in knowledge of the truth and was convinced that knowledge is valuable to the extent that it is applied in praxis.

Firmly anchored to the Catholic faith, Duns Scotus strove to understand, explain and defend the truth of the faith in the light of human reason. Thus he strove to do nothing other than show the consonance of all truths, natural and supernatural, that come from one and the same Source.

Alongside Sacred Scripture, divinely inspired, is the authority of the Church. Duns Scotus seems to follow St Augustine’s words: “I would not believe the Gospel, except that I [first] believe the Catholic Church”. In fact, our Doctor often gives a special emphasis to the supreme authority of the Successor of Peter. As the Blessed said: “Although the Pope cannot dispense with natural and divine law (given that his power is inferior to both), being the Successor of Peter, Prince of the Apostles, he still has the same authority as had Peter”.

Therefore, the Catholic Church whose invisible Head is Christ himself, who left as his Vicars the person of Blessed Peter and his Successors guided by the Spirit of truth, is the authentic custodian of the revealed deposit and the rule of faith. The Church is the firm and permanent criterion of the canonical dimension of Sacred Scripture. Indeed, she “established which books of the biblical canon were to be held authentic”.

Elsewhere he states that “the Scriptures were revealed in the same Spirit in which they were written, and in this way one must consider that the Catholic Church has presented them in that same Spirit with which the faith has been passed down, guided that is, by the Spirit of truth”.

After having proven with various arguments taken from theological reason, the very fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved from original sin, he was absolutely ready also to reject this conviction should it not be in harmony with the authority of the Church, saying: “We can with probability attribute to Mary all that has the greatest perfection, provided it is not opposed to the authority of the Church or the Scriptures”.

The primacy of the will sheds light on the fact that God is charity before all else. This charity, this love, Duns Scotus kept present when he sought to lead theology back to a single expression, that is to practical theology. According to his thought, since God “is formally love and formally charity”, with the greatest generosity he radiates his goodness and love beyond himself. And in reality, it is for love that God “chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He predestined us in love to be his adoptive sons through Jesus Christ” (cf. Eph 1: 4-5).

A faithful disciple of St Francis of Assisi, Bl. John contemplated and preached assiduously the Incarnation and the saving Passion of the Son of God. However, the charity or love of Christ is expressed in a special way not only on Calvary, but also in the most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, without which “if not for being able to render supreme adoration unto God through the veneration of the same Sacrament every mercy would disappear in the Church”. This Sacrament moreover is a sacrament of unity and love; through it we are led to love one another mutually and to love God as a common good and to be loved at the same time by others.

And as this love, this charity, was the origin of all things, so too our eternal happiness will be in love and charity alone: “Eternal life is simply the desire as well as the will to love, blessed and perfect”.

Since at the beginning of our ministry we first of all preached love, which is God himself, we see with joy that the unique doctrine of this Blessed keeps a special place for this truth, which we consider principally worthy to be researched and taught in our time. Therefore, willingly complying with the request of our Venerable Brother Cardinal Joachim Meisner, of Holy Roman Church, Archbishop of Cologne, we are sending this Apostolic Letter with which we desire to honour Bl. John Duns Scotus and invoke his heavenly intercession upon us. Lastly, to those who are taking part in any capacity in this International Congress and in other initiatives concerning this outstanding son of St Francis, we cordially impart our Apostolic Blessing.

Given in Rome, at St Peter’s on 28 October 2008, the fourth year of our Pontificate.

BENEDICTVS PP. XVI

The epitaph at Blessed John’s grave is rather fun:

Scotland bore me,                      Scotia me genuit,

England received me,                 Anglia me suscepit,

France taught me,                      Gallia me docuit,

Cologne holds me.                     Colonia me tenet.

 

Can we think of advancing his cause for sainthood? Its taken too many years to get to “Blessed”!!!!

footnotes in the original, see vatican.va

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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