Okay, I'm Still Not There


As you will see in the comment box below, I still haven't refined what I really want to say to the point where I can express the intent, which I truly believe is not at odds with what John da Fiesole would say.

But why, you ask, am I concerned at all about the issue? Am I anti-intellectual? Do I want to see a return to the bad old days of confining Galileo for his views about heliocentrism (a myth, by the way)?

Not at all. I am concerned because personal experience has acquainted me with a great many people who began with all good will to study and who studied with all due humility, or so it would seem, and who came to the conclusion that all they had learned in the faith was false--that in fact, the only truths were mechanistic, logical positivist, demonstrable truths. I am concerned, perhaps beyond my need to be, for the safety of souls.

I think much may depend upon what you study and why. For example, the study of the works of St. Thomas Aquinas for the purpose of understanding one of the major influences of Catholic thought and philosophy for a great length of time, conducted in all due humility with respect to the magisterium, seems quite beneficial. If one stands ready to be corrected and to submit one's work to the teaching authority of the Church, then one stands in good stead.

What, then, might constitute "bad study." I don't know that there is any (apart from things forbidden us, such as occult ways). But there may be bad pursuit of study, or a fundamental lack of knowledge of one's self that would tend to lead one off track. Or there is the insidious possibility of being slowly pulled off-track by various influences. Most theologians who are now in disrepute started out as fairly orthodox. Few of them just went of the rails from the start. Many theologians whose works may be too easily misinterpreted by lay people--Häring, for example--were surely thoroughly Orthodox at the start.

I'm going to think and pray more about this to try to say clearly what I wish to articulate. But I think at the core, it amounts to a much, much greater emphasis on humility. "Above all else to thine own self be true. . ." if we interpret that line in conjunction with Socrates's injunction to "Know thyself." In other words--know who you are in Christ, respect the limitations of your intellect and personality. And that restated is the fundamental truth--exercise humility in all your actions.

This does not mean that you cannot take joy in your discoveries. I'm afraid I tweaked a very precious, very good Carmelite in the course of these comments, and she should not have been tweaked. There is great, deep, wonderful satisfaction in discovering the things of God, and there is a natural impulse to want to share these discoveries. We must watch ourselves, and as Carmelites particularly, we must be willing to allow these consolations to pass from us and back to God. But surely no harm comes from innocent delight and pleasure in the knowledge of God.

So it's back to the drawing board, and perhaps working with my good blogfriends, I will finally be able to say precisely what I am aiming at. Thanks to all for your patience and kindness in following this track.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on April 25, 2003 8:10 AM.

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