Saturday, April 24, 2010

Apropos a Talk Given on St. Thomas, April 24, 2101


Benedict XVI: Without Faith, Reason Cannot Be Reason - and this because the light of reason is the being of the believing person. Remove the believing person who is the being in which reason sees everything else, and reason loses the absolute and becomes categorical and positivist.

HOUSTON, Texas, APRIL 24, 2010 ( Here is a compilation of excerpts from a Jan. 28 public lecture given by Archbishop Michael Miller of Vancouver, British Columbia, at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. The lecture was published April 14 by L'Osservatore Romano.

“In dealing with the harmony between faith and reason developed so exquisitely by Aquinas, the Holy Father [Benedict XVI] leaves no doubt about the Christological center of this vision. For Thomas, he writes, "the definitive fulfillment of every authentic human aspiration rests in Jesus Christ". But it was the genius of Aquinas to have highlighted the autonomy of philosophy, and with it the laws proper to reason. He gave a new emphasis to the specific responsibility of reason, which was not to be absorbed by faith. According to Thomas, Christianity was obliged to argue the case for its own reasonableness.

“Drawing, then, on St Thomas, Pope Benedict is convinced that it is urgent for contemporary thinkers "to rediscover anew human rationality open to the light of the divine Logos and his perfect revelation which is Jesus Christ, Son of God made man". Nor does he exhort only scholars. In countless homilies and discourses he cites St Peter's injunction to every Christian: "Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you" (1 Pet 3: 15). It is the Christian faith which safeguards reason in the modern world. Indeed, faith liberates reason from its own limitations. God has revealed himself as creative Reason and, precisely as the Logos, has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf. "In the beginning was the Word", the Logos, and "the Word became flesh" (Jn 1: 1, 14). The divine Logos is thus the origin of the universe, and this same Logos was united once and for all with humanity, the world and history, in Christ. Moreover, this Reason is not a mathematics of the universe nor a first cause that withdrew after producing the Big Bang. Rather, it has "a heart such as to be able to renounce its own immensity and take flesh".

The Holy Father addresses directly the consequence for higher education of holding to such an understanding of reason. In his first major address to academics he affirmed: "This then is the great challenge to Catholic universities: to impart knowledge in the perspective of true rationality, different from that of today which largely prevails, in accordance with a reason open to the question of the truth and to the great values inscribed in being itself, hence, open to the transcendent, to God".

Because God is Reason, our faith has something that has to do with reason; it can be passed on through it and has no cause to hide from it. Whenever faith in God separates itself from its rational foundation, such a faith is put at risk.

Without the light of faith, however, human reason cannot find sure and fulfilling answers to today's many urgent problems. Catholic universities, if they are to remain true to the intellectual tradition which has shaped them from their beginning, are called to bear witness not only to the dignity of human reason and its capacity for knowing reality but also to the role played by faith in learning. Our universities are broader, not narrower, in their outlook, since the study of divine revelation opens up a whole area of reality beyond the reach of reason left to its own natural resources. As Fr Victor Brezik once reminded us, "the combination of the world of revealed knowledge with the world of rational knowledge gives the Catholic university a much more challenging horizon of study".

No comments: