Monday, September 15, 2008

Faith and reason

I think what the Holy Father sought to communicate in France, as in Regensburg, is that faith and reason are not merely complementary, but that faith, in the words of Giussani, "is the apex of human knowledge, the apex of reason's knowledge" (Is It Possible . . . pg 130). Not just faith in some generic, nebulous, sense, but faith in Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, who is not only the touchstone of meaning, but the reason that anything exists at all, the Logos. So, life cannot attain its full meaning without Him. He is God's love, He loves us so much that if we even get a brief glimpse we almost can't bear the gratitude, it explodes our heart. You know what? At least in those few luminous moments, everything else fades into insignificance: "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth" (Eph. 5,8). We are not called to bring light to life, but to be light, children of the light. So, the light we bring to life is nothing but ourselves becoming and being the people we are created, redeemed, and sanctified to be. This is what gives anything and everything we do any significance. As yesterday's readings show us, we are, metaphorically, snake bit in the valley of tears, which is why the Son of Man was lifted up.

Nonetheless, when we speak of faith and reason as complementary it is very often the case that we still privilege reason over faith, seeing faith, at best, as an inferior species of knowledge, at worst, as an irrational leap. In reality, as Giussani points out, it is the other way around; faith is the apex of reason and knowledge. This brings us to St. Anselm's fides quaerens intellectum, faith seeking understanding and his observation that "we do not seek to understand in order to believe, but we believe in order to understand". You see, faith is the apex of reason, the apex of knowledge precisely because it is "the gift of partaking in the Spirit with which Christ possesses the world and 'every living thing'" (Jn 17,2). it is derived directly from God, from the Logos, without whom there is nothing.

Along these lines, it is useful to ponder the apostle's words from the second chapter of 1 Corinthians.

I can't help but draw attention to Suzanne's memoriam for David Foster Wallace. I, too, was shocked when I learned about his suicide this past weekend. We have lost an important voice. It called up personal memories that are painful for me. It also made me remember when the brilliant Iris Chang killed herself. May God, who is Love, be merciful to him.

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