Tuesday, September 19, 2006

With Christians, a poetical view of things is a duty. We are bid to color all things with hues of faith, to see a divine meaning in every event. - John Cardinal Newman

This quote of Cardinal Newman's reveals the key for the interpretation of all reality. We are a mysterious harmony of flesh and spirit. We are not merely of this earth, but have, as it were, one foot in eternity. This truth should have its echo in the hollow of our chest. It explains the ache we feel in the face of death. It defines the pull in our hearts for immortality. In the words of Pope Benedict, "We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God."

This poetical view, this vision that pierces through flesh and bone to reveal the spirit, this is the lens through which we are called to perceive the world! It is a specifically Catholic vision, a sacramental vision; it shows us that external signs hold inner truths. In a certain sense, everything is a sacrament. Nature itself is a book that speaks of God. Shakespeare once wrote that we should "find tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything."

The truth about God "breathes" through creation, and most of all through humanity, made male and female, in the image of the Trinity. The body is a sacrament that proclaims the Mystery of God! It speaks, and our spiritual life, which animates and is knit inextricably to our physical life, is crowned with the gifts of intellect and will. But our reason and so much of what it gathers from the senses is like a rocket that can propel us only so high. Like a trapeze artist letting go, faith grasps our hands from above when reason can barely touch the fingertips.

This is the path of the human person: to harmonize both faith and reason. To look with human eyes, to scrutinize with our intellect, and using reason like a launchpad, to leap into Love.

The temptation today, as it always has been, is to isolate one over the other. To divorce the Communion. Heresy is always the result of this fixation on the "one thing." Like a golden ring we grasp at it and stuff it in our pocketsess. Life is easier (?) when we can fit it into our brains, tag it and bag it. 3 + 1 = 4 every time! But what if 1 + 1 + 1 = 1?

In the words of one poet/scientist: "Religion without science is blind. Science without religion is lame." (Albert Einstein)

This was the point of Pope Benedict's address last week; that faith and reason are meant to be a harmony. That reason is not the enemy of faith, and faith is not a restriction on reason. One flows from the other. The poetical view is the wholistic view. It is harmony. It may seem paradoxical at times, but paradox is not contradiction; contradiction is confusion, paradox is Mystery (like disimilar notes making a symphony.)

Let us pray for those with only a singular view; the tunnel vision of the terrorist, the ego of the angry evolutionist, the clouded view of the creationist. And for all of us who feel that we cannot hold the tension of two, and so resort to violence to make a point. For violence is a clear sign that reason has been abandoned.

May God give us His peace.

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