Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Catholicism, a Balance of Heart and Mind: The 1st Anniversary Blog

The Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, a mere priest of God on earth, is preaching the bishops in Heaven. He is responsible for the marriage of Faith and Reason in Christian Philosophy.

I was supposed to make this blog last January 19, but since it was in the middle of the Prelims Week, I was that groggy to even type this entry. Anyway, better late than never….

And before I continue, all the things I put here are partly subjective and opinionated.

A couple of weeks ago in our Catholic Social Teaching class, I was conversing with a classmate and friend of mine about proving the injustices of Fundamentalism and Secularism. Why injustice? Well, we agreed that both sides disregarded either faith or reason—in this case, Fundamentalism is more of faith and Secularism is more of reason.

Okay…now let’s define them: Fundamentalism is defined as a lifestyle of belief, that we need a God to save us, and that salvation comes from faith and Scriptures ALONE (which is un-Biblical, anyway)—sometimes taking it out of context; on the other hand, Secularism is a lifestyle of living a good life without expecting, or even believing in anything supernatural; that humans only have one life to live, and will all end up in an eternal bliss of nothingness akin to Nirvana and contrary to the Christian Heaven of the Platonic World of Forms.

Now let’s compare them:

People who “believe in God and accept Jesus as their (Personal) Savior” and “believe in the power of prayer and the sole rule of the Bible” are generally called Fundamentalists. These are the Protestants ranging from Lutherans, Baptists, Calvinists, and Adventists; but it also include sects and cults like the Mormons (baptism of the dead and the Book of Mormon), Witnesses (“Respecting to flags are like worshipping idols!”), Manalists (who think that it was in 1914 that Christ reestablished His Church through a certain Felix Manalo as the “Last Messenger/Angel”, though it was only a corporation registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission), Sorianists (who blabber at others as if they were the only ones right), Quiboloyans (who regard Apollo Quiboloy as the “Appointed Son of God”), Evangelicals and Televangelicals (who are known in the Philippines as the “Born-Agains”), and Pseudo-Christians (with their unususal approach) among others.

People who generally do things as they are, on the other hand, to the extent of being a dimwit for a cause (everybody knows who this is), or who doesn’t care if they would become amoral as far as culture is concerned (TAKE NOTE: AMORAL! The ignorance of what is right from what is wrong), are called Secularists. Mostly, these people are atheists ranging from the mainline (“I personally don’t believe in the concept of a Supreme Being; but I respect someone if he thinks otherwise”), to the “freethinking” ones, who have a high tendency to become oxymoronically ignorant (“We have to remind the Theists that the gods they make are but figments of their imagination.”), to the radicals (THERE IS NO GOD! PERIOD!). Well, there could be an interchange between being a freethinker and a radical atheist, and may result to a new profile called Neo-Atheism. We also consider in this scope the concepts of Fascism, Socialism, Imperialism, Darwinism, and even Agnosticism and Humanism. We’ll deal more on atheists in another blog.

Now, we see that they are opposite poles, perhaps two sides of the weighing scale—that when one side is favored and the other is shunned, it would create imbalance: ideologically speaking, it would create injustice, since justice is resembled with a weighing scale.

Secularism creates injustice for it only focuses on the human person as a social being who lives a good life, then dies without looking forward to afterlife. Fundamentalism focuses on the personal and spiritual aspect of the human being, even to the point where one shuns the historical and literary concepts of interpreting of Sacred Scripture; besides, they believe that ONLY the Bible is THE authority—no (Sacred) Tradition nor Magisterium, and this creates injustice. What’s worse is that they misinterpret the state of eternal happiness, which we call Heaven, where virtually everyone (or only their sect or cult) would go after they die, which contradicts what was written: that “…nothing unclean shall enter it….” (Rev. 21:27). That would be further discussed and cleared out in the blogs I follow, since I’m still in my formative stage in fully engaging anti-Catholic apologists.

So, if Fundamentalism and Secularism are two imbalances, there should be a balance. You would ask: What, then, is the balance? To tell frankly, it’s Catholicism.

Based on the exposition above, Secularists are more of the thinking man, sometimes over-thinking that they would only blabber irrationally in the end; while Fundamentalists are more of the feeling man, more of the “holy” blabbering to be exact (speaking in tongues, I presume?), basing themselves in praise and worship and spiritual life and analyzing Scriptures and applying them in real life even if out of context. But there are other Fundamentalists who go to a point where they depend their lives on faith and grace and Scriptures and justification (somewhat, a resemblance of a Juan Tamad figure), and not on the works of their hands anymore. Catholics could balance thinking and feeling through prayer and study just as man is nutritive, sentient, and rational with respects from Aristotle.

Fundamentalism has produced theologians, religious leaders, pastors, and professionals; while Secularism has given us scientists, philosophers, thinkers, and institutional people. The Church has produced both sets of people, ranging from lay preachers, apologists, religious men and women, bishops and priests, youth leaders, social movers…name it, the Catholic Church could produce it! (That is, as long as it is for God’s glory….) 

Within its 2,000 years of existence, the Church is the only social institution who successfully attempted to intertwine faith and reason—heart and mind—emotion and rationality—body and soul. All these are credited to our Christian philosophers; the greatest of them goes by the name of St. Thomas Aquinas, whose solemnity we have celebrated a few days ago. His legendary work, the Summa Theologiae, is not just a philosophical classic or a reference for the necessity of Christianity: it is the primary evidence, among other works, of the marriage of faith and reason, their interaction, and their interrelation.

“In the age when Christian thinkers were discovering the treasures of ancient philosophy, and more particularly of Aristotle, [Saint] Thomas [Aquinas] had the great merit of giving pride of place to the harmony which exists between faith and reason.  Both the light of reason and the light of faith come from God, he argued; hence there can be no contradiction between them…. Although he made much of the supernatural character of faith, the Angelic Doctor did not overlook the importance of its reasonableness” (Bl. John Paul II, “Fides et Ratio” 43.).

The Angelic Doctor said: “When reason ends, faith begins”; and I reply: When faith is sufficient, reason must enter.

In summary, faith pertains to the heart and emotions as reason is related to the mind and objectivity. Fundamentalism is injustice for it is more of faith than reason; and Secularism is also injustice because it is more of reason than faith. Catholicism balances faith and reason, and in effect, manifests justice. So that means, Catholicism is justice to the dispensing of faith and reason; Catholicism is the balance of heart and mind.

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