Feast of St. Francis Caracciolo
In yesterday’s post, “The Divine Life in Itself and in us,” the Most Holy Trinity – the Supernatural Life in essence – has condescended to us, in His great mercy, through the Incarnation and the Passion and Death of the Word Incarnate making us even participate in His inner life by infusing in us sanctifying grace at Baptism. This sanctifying grace is, as it were, the seed of divine organism infused into us, transforming us into His sons, and will be perfected by the operation of the Holy Ghost day by day (2 Cor. 4.16) until we arrive at that perfect measure of the age of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 3.14): perfectly conformed to the mind and heart of Christ (cf., “The Holy Ghost: the Divine Gift par excellence“).
The key to this Christian participation in the intimate life of God is the supernatural virtue of [F]aith. The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ teaches us: this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent (Jn. 17.3). Catholic doctrine teaches that “the one true God, Creator and Lord, can be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason” (Vatican I, DZ 1806), that is, the human mind, even without the data of divine revelation, can know and prove with certainty, by the natural light of human reason and from contemplation of creation , that there is one God – the Creator and Lord of all that is. However, since man is ordained to a life of eternal bliss – therefore supernatural (“supra-“, above or in this case way above the condition necessary for a created nature) – aside from the fact that the natural operation of his mind is limited and even weighed down as it is with infirmity through original sin, this natural knowledge of God, mixed with error, can never attain to a clear and and correct knowledge of the true God which is the foundation of eternal life in us. Therefore, man needs to be elevated to the sphere of the divine where his supernatural operations is informed by the superintelligible things. “The failure to distinguish,” says Prof. Romano Amerio, a renowned orthodox peritus (theological expert) to the Bishop of Lugano (Italy), His Excellency Jelmini, during the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), “between the sphere of the naturally intelligible and the sphere of the superintelligible brings with it a misrepresentation of Catholic doctrine concerning the theological virtues…” (Iota Unum: A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church in the 20th Century, 164)
Faith in the Traditional Catholic Order of things: “The theological virtue of [F]aith” (by. Prof. R. Amerio)
“Reason cannot arrive at a demonstration of supernatural truths such as those regarding the Holy Trinity… These are truths proposed by revelation and apprehensible only by [the gift of] Faith. But that impossibility does not deprive the act of Faith of its rational character: it remains supremely reasonable. By recognizing itself as finite, reason sees that knowable truths can exist beyond its own limit, without being apprehensible by rational evidence. Reason adheres to these truths with an assent; but this assent is produced not by a logical necessity stemming from the evidence, but by a supernatural determinant, namely grace.
Faith is a supernatural virtue, pertaining to our own power of knowing, by which man [is made to go] beyond his own [natural] limits and assents to things he cannot see precisely because of their being beyond his own [natural] limits. According to Catholic teaching Faith is a virtue that resides in man’s intellect, just as charity resides in the will; it is possible because, as we have said, man’s intellect is limited.
The reason for Faith is, on one side, this limitation of the intellect,* and on the other the authority of the revealed divine Word. The fact that there has been a revelation pertains to history, and has to be shown from history. The authority of the divine Word is likewise something knowable by reason. It would be a vicious cycle to say that man recognizes God’s authority on God’s authority; the proposed revelation is accepted as authoritative because of arguments showing that it really does come from a God Whose authority can be known by an analytical examination of the concept of God itself. All the sources of authority in the Catholic system are thus grounded on reason, and if reason submits to Authority [that is, to God through the teaching authority of the Levitical priests (cf., Deut. 17.9-12; 21.5; 1 Par., or 1 Chro. in non-Catholic versions, 15.2) of His New Covenant, cf., Lk. 10.16: 1 Kings (1 Sam in non-Catholic versions) 8.7 ] it is because reason itself has seen the need of submitting. Thereafter, divine authority becomes the criterion that prevails all others. The things Christians believe are thus certain since the grounds for believing them lie not in some property belonging to the creature, but in the truth of God’s own thought” (ibid.).
* “All sciences are based on [f]aith in that they receive from other sciences knowledge that they do not themselves prove, but believe on the authority of the sciences from which they receive them. This sort of thing also happens in ordinary social life.”