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A major aspect of Catholic identity is critical thinking. The ability to hear and dissect something into its most basic components is a virtual necessity of the Catholic life. Asking questions is necessary, not about the veracity of the Faith, but about its depth. There is no greater gift that Almighty God can bestow on a human being than to be baptized into the Catholic faith outside of which there is no salvation.
But the intellectual soundness, the truth of this, has been largely left by the wayside in recent decades by various Churchmen who wish to not offend others. So it isn't taught in Catholic classrooms or seminaries or universities. It isn't preached from pulpits or discussed over family dinner tables. It has become the Church's family souvenirs packed away in a trunk in the back of the attic somewhere.
It's time to open the trunk and bring it out, the rich intellectual patrimony of the Catholic faith. All the emphasis on feelings that we hear and see about today, the spiritual insanity of non-stop blabber about having a personal relationship with Jesus, without any real connection to the Church. That is not possible. And it isn't just a theological proposition. It's also a philosophical one.
There's a maxim of the Faith which goes: Bad philosophy leads to bad theology, which leads to bad morality, which leads to Hell. The Faith is an intellectual proposition which, once apprehended in the intellect, then explodes into joy in the soul. The mind having grasped truth in itself now shares the joy of that with the body. So people cry or completely relax or feel a sensation in their flesh — a tingling, an excitement, a desire to touch, feel, hold. The psalmist points to this in the 48th Psalm: "Taste and see the goodness of the Lord." Once the mind apprehends, the body receives the joy.
This is why the Church has always been so steeped in education; the Great Commission of the Church from Our Blessed Lord was to teach. Inform the mind; enlighten the intellect.
As many of you know, we have a year-long program here at St. Michael's Media we call the PAUSE program, where we have a group of young men who put their lives on pause, on hold, for a year and come here to the apostolate to work in the day and study in the evening. We meet to discuss various readings they are assigned: philosophy, theology, Church history, the devotional life.
And we begin with philosophy so they can learn not what to think, but how to think. We examine questions about the existence of God — the necessity of God, the laws which govern the immaterial world, the meaning of soul and spirit and so forth. It all begins with metaphysics, understanding the principles from which the laws all flow.
Science knows much about the laws that govern the universe. What science does not and can never know is what governs the laws that govern the universe. Why can't earth just slip out of its orbit? Gravity? Well, what governs gravity? Where did whatever governs it come from? Why is there something at all rather than nothing at all? Is existence necessary? Not my existence or your existence, but existence itself? Is it necessary? If so, why so? If not, then why are we here? Could existence, if it's not necessary, suddenly slip into non-existence? If existence would cease to exist, then why hasn't it? Is it going to happen?
All of these sorts of questions, and many others, are at the heart of philosophy, and they have a great bearing on theology. Theology is, after all, faith seeking understanding. Philosophy provides the framework by which we can think and speak of theological truths. This is what the PAUSE men get together each night and go over, in their readings and in their discussions.
The Catholic faith is the highest of all pursuits because ultimately it deals with philosophical truths which are captured in theological realities and incorporated into human intellects. It is the divine mind going with the human. This is what we do in the PAUSE program; we walk the young men through Catholic intellectual truth and slowly unveil the glory of the Catholic Church — not rooted in feelings, but in the mind.
We are just in the beginning months of this year's PAUSE program and have dealt heavily with philosophy. We want to thank those of you who are contributing to the program financially and those of you helping with your prayers. Here at the apostolate we feel a deep sense of gratitude to Almighty God and a desire to spread the truth wherever and however we go. This is just one of the ways we are engaged. We have a mass media presence which all of you obviously know about and a more up-close and personal presence that is more behind the scenes, but still very much needed.
Thank you for continuing to make all this possible.