April 30, 2009

Socrates (left) and Aristotle

Thought of the Day

"Philosophers: cleaner than poets, quieter than politicians."

Pillars of Unbelief - Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche
Peter Kreeft

(Dr. Peter Kreeft teaches philosophy at Boston College and has authored over forty-five books. He is a renowned Catholic apologists and an unapologetic big C Catholic. The following is an excerpt from an article in his series Pillars of Unbelief. The third article considers Friedrich Nietzsche, the self proclaimed "Anti-Christ" and outspoken critic of religious belief. The article can be read in its entirety here.)

Nietzsche - Self-Proclaimed "Anti-Christ"

Friedrich Nietzsche called himself "the Anti-Christ," and wrote a book by that title. He argued for atheism as follows: "I will now disprove the existence of all gods. If there were gods, how could I bear not to be a god? Consequently, there are no gods."

He scorned reason as well as faith, often deliberately contradicted himself, said that "a sneer is infinitely more noble that a syllogism" and appealed to passion, rhetoric and even deliberate hatred rather than reason.

He saw love as "the greatest danger" and morality as mankind's worst weakness. He died insane, in an asylum, of syphilis-signing his last letters "the Crucified One." He was adored by the Nazis as their semi-official philosopher.

Yet he is admired as profound and wise by many of the greatest minds of our century. How can this be?

There are three schools of thought about Nietzsche. Most popular among academics is the school of the "gentle Nietzscheans," who claim that Nietzsche was, in effect, a sheep in wolf's clothing; that his attacks should not be taken literally and that he was really an ally, not an enemy, of the Western institutions and values which he denounced.

These scholars resemble theologians who interpret sayings of Jesus like: "no one can come to the Father but through me" as meaning "all religions are equally valid," and "he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery" as meaning "let your divorces be creative and reasonable."

Second, there are the "awful, awful" Nietzscheans. They at least pay Nietzsche the compliment of taking him seriously. They are typified by the footnote in an old Catholic textbook on modern philosophy, which said only that Nietzsche existed, was an atheist and died insane-a fate which may well await anyone who looks too long into his books.

A third school of thought sees Nietzsche as a wolf indeed and not a sheep, but as a very important thinker because he shows to modern Western civilization its own dark heart and future. It's easy to scapegoat and point fingers at "blacksheep" like Nietzsche and Hitler, but is there not a "Hitler in ourselves" (to quote Max Picard's title)? Did not Nietzsche let the cat out of the bag? The demonic cat that was hidden in the respectable bag of secular humanism? Once "God is dead," so is man, morality, love, freedom, hope, democracy, the soul and ultimately, sanity. No one shows this more vividly than Nietzsche. He may have been responsible (quite unintentionally) for many conversions...

April 29, 2009

Daily Offering

Franciscan Cross LET US PRAY

Daily Offering
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.
Visit the Apostleship for Prayer's website for more prayers and information.

April 28, 2009

Flannery O'Connor on Catholicism, the Priesthood and the Catholic Church

Flannery O'Connor
Christ was crucified on earth and the Church is crucified by all of us, by her members most particularly, because she is a church of sinners. Christ never said that the Church would be operated in a sinless or intelligent way, but that it would not teach error. This does not mean that each and every priest won’t teach error, but that the whole Church speaking through the Pope will not teach error in matters of faith. The Church is founded on Peter who denied Christ three times and couldn’t walk on the water by himself. You are expecting his successors to walk on the water.
From a letter by Flannery O'Connor in response to a friend's criticism of the Catholic Church's shortcomings.

April 27, 2009

Pillars of Unbelief - Kant

Immanuel Kant Peter Kreeft

(Dr. Peter Kreeft teaches philosophy at Boston College. He is a renowned Catholic apologists. The following is an excerpt from an article in his series Pillars of Unbelief. The second article considers Immanuel Kant, his philosophy and his subjectification of truth. It can be read in its entirety here.)

Kant - Subjectivizer of Truth

Few philosophers in history have been so unreadable and dry as Immanuel Kant. Yet few have had a more devastating impact on human thought.

Kant's devoted servant, Lumppe, is said to have faithfully read each thing his master published, but when Kant published his most important work, "The Critique of Pure Reason," Lumppe began but did not finish it because, he said, if he were to finish it, it would have to be in a mental hospital. Many students since then have echoed his sentiments.

Yet this abstract professor, writing in abstract style about abstract questions, is, I believe, the primary source of the idea that today imperils faith (and thus souls) more than any other; the idea that truth is subjective.

The simple citizens of his native Konigsburg, Germany, where he lived and wrote in the latter half of the 18th century, understood this better than professional scholars, for they nicknamed Kant "The Destroyer" and named their dogs after him.

He was a good-tempered, sweet and pious man, so punctual that his neighbors set their clocks by his daily walk. The basic intention of his philosophy was noble: to restore human dignity amidst a skeptical world worshiping science.

This intent becomes clear through a single anecdote. Kant was attending a lecture by a materialistic astronomer on the topic of man's place in the universe. The astronomer concluded his lecture with: "So you see that astronomically speaking, man is utterly insignificant." Kant replied: "Professor, you forgot the most important thing, man is the astronomer."

Kant, more than any other thinker, gave impetus to the typically modern turn from the objective to the subjective. This may sound fine until we realize that it meant for him the redefinition of truth itself as subjective. And the consequences of this idea have been catastrophic.

If we ever engage in conversation about our faith with unbelievers, we know from experience that the most common obstacle to faith today is not any honest intellectual difficulty, like the problem of evil or the dogma of the trinity, but the assumption that religion cannot possibly concern facts and objective truth at all; that any attempt to convince another person that your faith is true—objectively true, true for everyone—is unthinkable arrogance.

The business of religion, according to this mindset, is practice and not theory; values, not facts; something subjective and private, not objective and public. Dogma is an "extra," and a bad extra at that, for dogma fosters dogmatism. Religion, in short, equals ethics. And since Christian ethics is very similar to the ethics of most other major religions, it doesn't matter whether you are a Christian or not; all that matters is whether you are a "good person." (The people who believe this also usually believe that just about everyone except Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson is a "good person.")

Kant is largely responsible for this way of thinking. He helped bury the medieval synthesis of faith and reason. He described his philosophy as "clearing away the pretensions of reason to make room for faith"—as if faith and reason were enemies and not allies. In Kant, Luther's divorce between faith and reason becomes finalized...

April 26, 2009

One Minute Catechism | Catechesis


_________________________

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church
___________________________

HANDING ON THE FAITH: CATECHESIS

Quite early on, the name catechesis was given to the totality of the Church's efforts to make disciples, to help men believe that Jesus is the Son of God so that believing they might have life in his name, and to educate and instruct them in this life, thus building up the body of Christ.
"Catechesis is an education in the faith of children, young people and adults which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life."

While not being formally identified with them, catechesis is built on a certain number of elements of the Church's pastoral mission which have a catechetical aspect, that prepare for catechesis, or spring from it. They are: the initial proclamation of the Gospel or missionary preaching to arouse faith; examination of the reasons for belief; experience of Christian living; celebration of the sacraments; integration into the ecclesial community; and apostolic and missionary witness...

April 24, 2009

Two Years After Federal Ban of Partial-Birth Abortion

Fr. Frank Pavone

On April 18, 2007, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the federal ban on partial-birth abortion, without the loophole of a health exception. This is an important step forward in Constitutional law toward the ultimate goal of restoring protection to every unborn child.

In partial-birth abortion, the birth process itself is hijacked and turned into an instrument of killing. This corrupts the role of the physician and blurs the line between abortion and infanticide. The Court said that this line should not be blurred.

The Court rejected the arguments of the abortion industry that the ban should be struck down because it lacks a health exception. The Court said that the abortion supporters failed to prove that the procedure is as necessary for health as they claimed.

Visit Father Frank's blog here. For information on pro-life resources see Priests for Life.

April 23, 2009

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi

LET US PRAY

Saint Francis of Assisi (pictured above) was born into a wealthy Italian family in c 1182. He is the founder of the Franciscans. Francis is the patron saint of animals, the environment, and Italy.

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair hope;
where there is darkness light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen
Additional information on the life of St. Francis may be found here.

Pillars of Unbelief - Machiavelli

Niccolo Machiavelli
Peter Kreeft

(Dr. Peter Kreeft teaches philosophy at Boston College and has authored over forty-five books. He is a renowned Catholic apologists and an unapologetic big C Catholic. The following is an excerpt from an article in his series Pillars of Unbelief. The first article considers Niccolo Machiavelli and the impact of Machiavellian philosophy. It can be read in its entirety here.)

Machiavelli - Inventor of "the New Morality"

Niccolo Machiavelli (1496-1527) was the founder of modern political and social philosophy, and seldom in the history of thought has there been a more total revolution. Machiavelli knew how radical he was. He compared his work to Columbus' as the discoverer of a new world, and to Moses' as the leader of a new chosen people who would exit the slavery of moral ideas into a new promised land of power and practicality.

Machiavelli's revolution can be summarized in six points...

For all previous social thinkers, the goal of political life was virtue. A good society was conceived as one in which people are good. There was no "double standard" between individual and social goodness-until Machiavelli. With him, politics became no longer the art of the good but the art of the possible. His influence on this point was enormous. All major social and political philosophers (Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mill, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Dewey) subsequently rejected the goal of virtue, just as Machiavelli lowered the standard and nearly everyone began to salute the newly masted flag.

Machiavelli's argument was that traditional morals were like the stars; beautiful but too distant to cast any useful light on our earthly path. We need instead man-made lanterns; in other words, attainable goals. We must take our bearings from the earth, not from the heavens; from what men and societies actually do, not from what they ought to do.

The essence of Machiavelli's revolution was to judge the ideal by the actual rather than the actual by the ideal. An ideal is good for him, only if it is practical; thus, Machiavelli is the father of pragmatism. Not only does "the end justify the means"-any means that work-but the means even justify the end, in the sense that an end is worth pursuing only if there are practical means to attain it. In other words, the new summum bonum, or greatest good is success. (Machiavelli sounds like not only the first pragmatist but the first American pragmatist!)

Machiavelli didn't just lower the moral standards; he abolished them. More than a pragmatist, he was an anti-moralist. The only relevance he saw morality having to success was to stand in its way. He taught that it was necessary for a successful prince "to learn how not to be good," (The Prince, ch. 15) how to break promises, to lie and cheat and steal (ch. 18).

Because of such shameless views, some of Machiavelli's contemporaries saw "The Prince" as a book literally inspired by the devil. But modern scholars usually see it as drawn from science. They defend Machiavelli by claiming that he did not deny morality, but simply wrote a book about another subject, about what is rather than about what ought to be. They even praise him for his lack of hypocrisy, implying that moralism equals hypocrisy.

This is the common, modern misunderstanding of hypocrisy as not practicing what you preach. In that sense all men are hypocrites unless they stop preaching. Matthew Arnold defined hypocrisy as "the tribute vice pays to virtue." Machiavelli was the first to refuse to pay even that tribute. He overcame hypocrisy not by raising practice to the level of preaching but of lowering preaching to the level of practice, by conforming the ideal to the real rather than the real to the ideal...

To read this article in full go here

April 22, 2009

Pope John Paul II's Rule for Spouses

St. John Paul II From the Catholic News Service:

Italian newspaper, Il Messagero, has published a newly rediscovered booklet written by then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla in 1968 to help couples implement Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae.

The text, entitled "Rule for Spouses," was never made public outside the Archdiocese of Krakow, but was recently discovered by a student from the John Paul II Institute for Life and Family in Rome, Catholic News Agency reports.

The booklet will be officially presented on April 24, but on Thursday Il Messagero published a full version in Italian, as well as Wojtyla's introduction to the Rule on its website (in Italian).

In his introduction, Wojtyla wrote that "the present Rule sprouts from a series of pastoral experiences with some married couples and, at the same time, from the marriage experience of couples themselves."

The Rule, he wrote, "is born simultaneously with the publication of the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which proposes to spouses and their pastors the Gospel's demand for authentically Christian marriages."

"The Rule is aimed at married couples in their entirety and not to spouses as individuals. It is important, indeed, that it is adopted and put in practice by the couple, not solely the husbands or wives without the commitment of their spouses."

The future Pope John Paul explains that "the specific goal of the Humanae Vitae groups is the continuing commitment toward a spiritual perspective, so that the integral teachings of Christ our Lord about marriage and family, announced by the Church, may become real in their marriages, with a full understanding and full love."

"Therefore, it is about creating an adequate spirituality, that is to say, an interior life, that will allow the organisation of marriage and family life in a Christian way," Cardinal Wojtyla wrote.

"Such spirituality cannot exist in a definitive manner based on the model of religious congregations, but must be constantly reworked," the introduction concludes.

April 21, 2009

Saint Thomas Aquinas

St Thomas Aquinas
"Philosophy is the handmaiden of the Sacred Science (Theology)"

- St. Thomas Aquinas

Thomas was the son of the Count of Aquino, born in the family castle in Lombardy near Naples. Educated by Benedictine monks at Monte Cassino and at the University of Naples, he secretly joined the Dominican friars in 1244. His family kidnapped and imprisoned him for a year to discourage his vocation. This failed. Thomas rejoined his order in 1245.

He studied in Paris from 1245 to 1248 under Saint Albert the Great, and accompanied Albertus to Cologne. Ordained in 1250, he returned to Paris to teach theology. Thomas wrote commentaries on Aristotle and Lombard’s Sentences and some bible-related works. After receiving his doctorate he was recalled to Naples in 1272. There, Thomas was appointed regent of studies while working on the Summa Theologica.

On December 6, 1273, Thomas experienced a Divine revelation. He abandoned the Summa, shortly thereafter, saying it was mere straw compared to the Divine glory he had witnessed. He died four months later.

His works have been seminal to the thinking of the Church. 

April 20, 2009

One Minute Catechism

The creation of Adam
________________________

from the Catechism of the Catholic Church
_____________________________

THE LIFE OF MAN - TO KNOW AND LOVE GOD

God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.

April 19, 2009

Prayer For the Unborn By Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen to Our Lady of Guadalupe

The Visitation,

When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice saying, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
Prayer for the Unborn in Danger of Abortion

Prayer for the unborn baby by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen to our Lady of Guadalupe Intercessor for the Unborn
Jesus Mary and Joseph;
I love you very much,
I beg you to spare the life
of the unborn bady
that I have spiritually adopted;
who is in danger of abortion - Amen
Say this prayer each day for one year and a child in danger of abortion will be saved.

Divine Mercy Sunday | 2009


Today is Divine Mercy Sunday

April 19, 2009

You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.

O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.

For information about the image of Christ shown above click here. To learn about Saint Faustina, the Divine Mercy Chaplet or Divine Mercy Sunday see Who is Saint Faustina? and The Sunday After Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday.

April 18, 2009

The Apostle of Divine Mercy


Who is Saint Faustina?

Helena Kowalska was the third of ten children, born August 25, 1905, in Głogówiec, Poland. At fifteen she left school to help support her family. Helena felt called by God to a religious vocation. In 1925, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, taking the name Sister Maria Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament.

This simple nun with only three years of formal education lived a short but consequential life. Through her, God reveled His compassion, His desire to forgive sins, and reconcile mankind to Himself. She endured great hardships in carrying out this Divine mission.

Sister Faustina received visions of our Lord, in which, Jesus instructed her to tell the world of His infinite love and mercy. She kept a diary of these visions; later published under the title Divine Mercy in My Soul: The Diary of St. Faustina. Read it online here.

Sister Faustina was thirty-three when she succumbed to tuberculosis. Following her death her writings were met with skepticism. After the Second World War, the Church would revisit them. The Archbishop of Kraków, Karol Wojtyła (the future Pope John Paul II), reopened the investigation into Faustina's life and writings and approved devotion to the Divine Mercy, including praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

In 1993 Faustina was beatified, the last designation before sainthood. On April 30, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized her a saint and established the second Sunday of Easter (the first Sunday after Easter Sunday), as Divine Mercy Sunday.

Her Vatican biography is here. A PDF on praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet is available here.

April 16, 2009

Divine Mercy Sunday: Get Ready For This Great Feast of Mercy

The Sunday After Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday

How should we prepare for this great Feast of Mercy?

Jesus told St. Faustina that this Feast of Mercy would be a very special day when “all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened.” (Diary 699) Our Lord made a great promise to all those souls who would go to Confession and then receive Him in Holy Communion on the Feast of Mercy, on the Sunday after Easter, which is now called Divine Mercy Sunday through- out the Catholic Church.

Jesus promised that “The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Commun- ion shall obtain the complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.” (Diary 699) He went on to say “I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My Mercy.” (Diary 1109)

We want to encourage everyone to take advantage of this incredible promise and the additional Plenary Indulgence on this great Feast of Mercy “Divine Mercy Sunday”. We want you to benefit fully from these promises, and we also want you to notify all of your family and friends about them too and urge them to return to the practice of their faith About the feastday “Divine Mercy Sunday”, Jesus said “…tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon the souls who approach the Fount of My Mercy. On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.... Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy.” (Diary 699)

It is required of all Catholics to confess their serious sins at least once every year. If you haven’t yet met this obligation then take advantage of this outstanding opportunity to receive an outpouring of an ocean of graces that Jesus promises on this day. Those who have already confessed their sins should make room for others.

The Church allows for one to go to Confession for up to about 20 days, before or after Divine Mercy Sunday.

Excerpts taken from the Diary of St. Faustina, copyright 1987 Marians of the Immaculate Conception, Stockbridge MA., USA. Bulletin insert taken from the www.DivineMercySunday.com website and may be copied and re-produced without permission.

April 15, 2009

Easter Sunday Homily - 2009


EMPTY IS BEAUTIFUL


Fr. Rene Butler

Usually we think of emptiness as not good, when something that is supposed to fill that space is gone.

That was the reaction of most of the disciples who found the tomb of Jesus empty. One important exception was the Beloved Disciple, who ran to the tomb with Peter after Mary Magdalene told them that Jesus’ body was missing. When he entered the tomb after Peter, the Gospel says, “He saw, and he believed.”

In other words, he understood what had really happened, and for him that empty tomb became one of the most beautiful places in the world. You can just imagine him thinking the biblical equivalent of “cool!” “awesome!” “wow!”

We make our churches as beautiful as possible for Easter. And that beauty is enhanced by the fact that our churches are fuller than usual. Ideally the fruit of the empty tomb is a full church, people of faith gathered together to celebrate the Risen Christ, week after week after week.

How wonderful it would be if all Christians realized that their church services are never so beautiful as when they are present, and their church is never so beautiful as when they are in it.

April 12, 2009

St. Thomas Aquinas
Dumb Ox

ENCYCLICAL LETTER
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
JOHN PAUL II
TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN
FAITH AND REASON


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...

Easter 2009

Pope Benedict XVI
"Christ is looking for men and women who will help him to affirm his victory using his own weapons: the weapons of justice and truth, mercy, forgiveness and love." - Pope Benedict XVI


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Rome and throughout the world,

From the depths of my heart, I wish all of you a blessed Easter. To quote Saint Augustine, "Resurrectio Domini, spes nostra – the resurrection of the Lord is our hope” (Sermon 261:1). With these words, the great Bishop explained to the faithful that Jesus rose again so that we, though destined to die, should not despair, worrying that with death life is completely finished; Christ is risen to give us hope (cf. ibid.).

Indeed, one of the questions that most preoccupies men and women is this: what is there after death? To this mystery today’s solemnity allows us to respond that death does not have the last word, because Life will be victorious at the end. This certainty of ours is based not on simple human reasoning, but on a historical fact of faith: Jesus Christ, crucified and buried, is risen with his glorified body. Jesus is risen so that we too, believing in him, may have eternal life. This proclamation is at the heart of the Gospel message...

The resurrection, then, is not a theory, but a historical reality revealed by the man Jesus Christ by means of his “Passover”, his “passage”, that has opened a “new way” between heaven and earth (cf. Heb 10:20). It is neither a myth nor a dream, it is not a vision or a utopia, it is not a fairy tale, but it is a singular and unrepeatable event...

[ ... ]

If it is true that death no longer has power over man and over the world, there still remain very many, in fact too many signs of its former dominion. Even if through Easter, Christ has destroyed the root of evil, he still wants the assistance of men and women in every time and place who help him to affirm his victory using his own weapons: the weapons of justice and truth, mercy, forgiveness and love. This is the message which, during my recent Apostolic Visit to Cameroon and Angola, I wanted to convey to the entire African continent, where I was welcomed with such great enthusiasm and readiness to listen. Africa suffers disproportionately from the cruel and unending conflicts, often forgotten, that are causing so much bloodshed and destruction in several of her nations, and from the growing number of her sons and daughters who fall prey to hunger, poverty and disease. I shall repeat the same message emphatically in the Holy Land, to which I shall have the joy of travelling... Reconciliation – difficult, but indispensable – is a precondition for a future of overall security and peaceful coexistence, and it can only be achieved through renewed, persevering and sincere efforts... Let no one draw back from this peaceful battle that has been launched by Christ’s Resurrection. For as I said earlier, Christ is looking for men and women who will help him to affirm his victory using his own weapons: the weapons of justice and truth, mercy, forgiveness and love...

April 4, 2009

St. Thomas Aquinas Dumb Ox

From the introduction to FIDES ET RATIO:

"KNOW YOURSELF"

In both East and West, we may trace a journey which has led humanity down the centuries to meet and engage truth more and more deeply. It is a journey which has unfolded—as it must—within the horizon of personal self-consciousness: the more human beings know reality and the world, the more they know themselves in their uniqueness, with the question of the meaning of things and of their very existence becoming ever more pressing. This is why all that is the object of our knowledge becomes a part of our life. The admonition Know yourself was carved on the temple portal at Delphi, as testimony to a basic truth to be adopted as a minimal norm by those who seek to set themselves apart from the rest of creation as “human beings”, that is as those who “know themselves”.

Moreover, a cursory glance at ancient history shows clearly how in different parts of the world, with their different cultures, there arise at the same time the fundamental questions which pervade human life: Who am I? Where have I come from and where am I going? Why is there evil? What is there after this life? These are the questions which we find in the sacred writings of Israel, as also in the Veda and the Avesta; we find them in the writings of Confucius and Lao-Tze, and in the preaching of Tirthankara and Buddha; they appear in the poetry of Homer and in the tragedies of Euripides and Sophocles, as they do in the philosophical writings of Plato and Aristotle. They are questions which have their common source in the quest for meaning which has always compelled the human heart. In fact, the answer given to these questions decides the direction which people seek to give to their lives.