“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth…” (Pope Saint John Paul II, in “Fides et Ratio” (Faith and Reason)).
Pope Saint John Paul II, in his encyclical, “Fides et Ratio” (Faith and Reason) opens beautifully, with the lines… “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know Himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”
I have been reflecting on this encyclical over the last few days and weeks during this unprecedented lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic because there is poetry in this description. Faith and reason are like wings – and wings need to balance – and between these two wings, there is a balanced bird of TRUTH…
As someone who teaches a lot of poetry, it was very easy for me to get caught up in the beautiful simile of that description. It is beautiful to close my eyes and image a bird – perhaps like the dove used in depictions of the Holy Spirit – which is a bird of truth, balanced between faith and reason.
And yet, when I look past the poetry, I can see the point – or perhaps it would be more correct to say – I can see the TRUTH.
And truth is by far the most important thing here. For we are given our faith and reason to know the truth. And so, the question becomes… WHAT is the TRUTH, or – more correctly – WHO is the TRUTH?
And we are told the answer explicitly…
Christ is the Truth. After all, He said… “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6).
Though we live in a Postmodern world where society would have us believe in Relativism, which argues that there is no one truth and we can each believe whatever we want to as though it were the truth, by the very definition of TRUTH there can ONLY be ONE TRUTH!
I feel this crisis of Postmodernism so keenly during this COVID-19 pandemic. These days, as people feel so strongly about things with this pandemic, everyone holds onto their own “truth”...
Some people are angry that they are forced to stay at home because they worry about how they will have enough money to feed their families, being unable to work in their jobs. Others are angry that people want to got to work, because they are doing okay at home and the pandemic means they miss out on holidays and nice meals in fancy restaurants, but not a lot else.
Other people are lonely – terribly lonely – and long to socialise again. And yet others are happy at home, coddled together with their loved ones free of the distractions of their normal lives.
Some of us are worried about being unable to receive a vaccine, and others are worried that they may be forced to.
Some people protest and others berate the protestors.
Some decry a police state and others support the restrictions that they see as necessary protections for the vulnerable in our society.
And so – in these turbulent times – these days, the truth seems far far away…
Scott Hahn argues in his book, “It is Right and Just”, “Our civilizational crisis of faith and reason is, fundamentally, a crisis of truth – a despair that we could ever really know the deepest truths about who and why we are.”
For as Pope Saint John Paul II said, it is truth that we were born to seek – for God is truth…
And to love God, who is truth, it is not enough to FEEL love – we must prove it too. Saint John of the Cross explained, “Love does not consist in feelings great things, but in having great detachment and in suffering for the Beloved (God).” (Saint John of the Cross).
For God is truth and truth is love and it is love to seek the truth and to repent of our failure to abide by it.
Saint Padre Pio challenged, “If you have the courage to imitate Mary Magdalene in her sins, then have the courage to imitate her repentance.”
And so, as I have the courage to sin, I seek the courage to repent. For in seeking the truth, repentance and suffering are the only way…
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.