Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Attitude of the True Believer

The inquirer into religion is urged to use all the reason God has given him to make sure that Christ is God and that He has established a divine Church. Also he is encouraged to use his reason to make certain that the Catholic Church is the one Church established by Christ. Once hav­ing settled that, it is in perfect accord with reason to accept without questioning all that this divine Church teaches.

It is no slavery of intellect to bow down before divine truth, even though many, even some professed Catholics, say otherwise. In travelling an unknown and dangerous country, a man shows wisdom in submitting to an accredited guide. Suppose someone should deride him for trusting in his guide. He would reply that such trust showed common sense. It would be foolish and possibly deadly, to disregard or dismiss the help or admonitions of his guide.

So God has given us His Church to guide us safely by the pitfalls of life, and in trusting her we show, not feebleness, but intelligence. Our attitude to the Church should therefore be like that of St. Paul, who exclaimed when Christ appeared to him on the way to Damascus: "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" We should go to the Church as a child to its mother, with perfect trust and love. If she tells us what principles are to guide us in life, we should receive them as from God. If she points out the way that leads to eternal life, we should follow it. If she tells us that certain things are dangerous, we should listen attentively to her. If she gives us help to strengthen us in our soul's warfare, we should welcome them as a child welcomes the encouraging help from his mother.

In a word, we should hear her words and follow her guidance as we would those of God Himself. In doing this we are merely carrying out Christ's injunction, for He said of His Church: "He who hears you, hears Me." If our Lord's words mean anything, they mean just that. That is why St. Paul called the clergy the ambassadors of Christ. When they declare the authoritative teaching of the Church, they announce the truth of God.

This constitutes the great comfort and security of faithful Catholics. They know; they do not conjecture. They have certitude, not probability. They are not searching for the light; they have it. That is why faithful Catholics are so firm, so uncompromising with the teachings of Christ and His Church.

Truth has nothing to compromise. Are we to com­promise on the multiplication tables? The truths of the Catholic Church are just as certain, for the Church is God speaking to His people.

If on reading thus far you are convinced of the truth of the Catholic Church, it remains for you to accept her doctrine and to live by it. If you are not convinced of the truth of the Catholic Church, I request you to pray.

Jesus Christ, the Living Truth and the Light of the World, was rejected by some of His own people. It was not because He was not the Truth or Light, but because, as St. John says, the Light shone in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it. The failure to comprehend was not the fault of the Light.

Therefore, pray. Pray for light to know the truth, to enlighten the intellect and strength to follow it, the strength and courage to conform your will to the will of Christ. Many are afraid to know the truth for fear of it. It might cause a change in the manner of their life or in their prospects. So courage is needed as well as light. If you do your part, God will do His.

It strikes me that the point of view which makes people formulate their own religion or their own "doctrines" is the domi­nant feature of the present attitude outside the Church and in some places, even within the Church. As a consequence, they view the Church as narrow, unprogressive and even fossilized. The mariner's compass might be condemned on their view because it always points the same, yet it is this fixedness which gives it its value. Any variation in the es­tablished nature of the compass would not be progress but ruin. A navigator is not con­sidered narrow because he holds to the com­pass; neither is a faithful Catholic narrow who holds to the Church. The compass is nature's pro­vision for guiding the mariner over the track­less water, the Church is the provision of nature's God for the guidance of men over the sea of life.

The Church loves nothing so much as light. The brighter the light and the more it pene­trates her every feature, the more she stands forth as the true bride of Christ. Christ not only loved the light but was the very light itself. "I the light am come into the world that whosoever believes in Me may not re­main in darkness." And Isaias seeing the Church in vision exclaims, "Thou shalt no more have the sun for thy light, but the Lord shall be unto thee for an everlasting light and thy God for thy glory." Jesus Christ and His Church! The divine bridegroom and His Bride! Our Father who art in Heaven - and on earth Our Holy Mother the Church!

Adapted from God and Myself, An Inquiry into the True Religion,
by Martin J Scott, S.J.

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