I’m trying very hard not to engage in heavy philosophy and theology these days. I’m tired, my health is poor, my brothers need my attention, it’s “Franciscan Season,” then I have to rest for the Advent Season. But every once in a while someone says something or publishes something that stirs my juices and I can’t turn my brain off. I keep asking the brothers to elect a new superior. If someone else were the superior, he could order me to stop thinking about A, B, and C and I would have to make an effort to focus on something else. But that’s not the way it works these days.
I read an article, which you can read, if you have time. The link is at the bottom of the page. I refuted the writer’s comments and placed them on Facebook. In a nutshell, the writer interpreted something that the Holy Father said about Mary as making her part of the Godhead and more important than Jesus. If you read the article, the Pope never said such a thing. After my refutation, a poster from Facebook chimed in
To me this is like arguing about which version of Little Red Riding Hood is correct.
I responded like this. I’m just going to give you snippets of my response.
When we come to the person of Jesus Christ, we have to face the question about a real person who exists in real history, but has two natures, one divine and one human and he proved it to those who knew him. He died on a Friday and walked out of a tomb on a Sunday. Dying is very human. Walking out of a tomb after three days is not normal for human beings to do.
I gave a few other examples such as Jesus walking through walls and asking for food, before moving on to this other point.
Now we have the union of two natures in one man. The divine nature is that of the second person of the Trinity and the human nature is that of Jesus of Nazareth. But the second person of the Trinity, who happens to be pre-existent, is also the infant who was born of Mary and who could not be born, had there not been a mother to carry him for nine months and give birth to him.
Yes, I know that God could have taken on human nature using any means he wished. But he’s God and I’m not. Who am I to tell God how to enter the world?
Another post shows up and said “Not buying any of it.” That’s fine, because Truth is not for sale.
As Franciscans, we present it, but we don’t try to sell it, shove it down anyone’s throat, or seduce anyone into acceptance. The Truth is of God and God does not need help to distribute grace. Faith is a gift of grace. God just asks us to deliver the message. He does the rest.
However, I did state that I would give my life for this, meaning that I am willing to die rather than deny that the Second Person of the Trinity broke into human history by taking on human nature from Mary of Nazareth. I’m not about to argue with him why he didn’t use some other way. That’s like arguing about technique with the lifeguard who’s trying to save your from drowning.
Of course it finally came out. The famous question.
Explaining a fairy tale, is just explaining a fairy tale. Where is logic and science?
It seems that some people have elevated science to be the “Source of All Truth”, an assumption that even many non-believers reject.
In a certain sense, modern man is more naive than the ancient Chinese, Romans, Greeks, Aztecs, Incas, Mayans, Brahmans and other great thinkers. The ancient thinkers never believed that one discipline had all the answers. Truth is distributed among science, art, nature, human behavior and development, the environment, math, and other disciplines. Theology studies Truth in order to understand that to which our faith has already given assent. In plain English, science can only answer some questions, the answers to other questions are to be found in other domains out of the reach of science.
Can science create beauty or something that is beautiful? Beauty exists before the beautiful. Science did not create beauty. It created something beautiful using technology. Case in point, science does not have all the answers, so why even ask this question? I explained that science can only deal with that which is contained by space, time or both.
Einstein also taught us that space and time are relative to each other and to that which occupies it. If science could show us all truth, then truth would be limited to space and time. In which case, there would be no absolute truth, because science is not absolute. We’d exist in a world of relativism where nothing can be trusted, because nothing is guaranteed.
If there is no absolute truth, then there is no such thing as absolute love, friendship, fidelity, honesty, patience, kindness, compassion, purity, detachment and many other things. If we contain these things in space and time, they would be relative, not constant. You couldn’t trust that your feelings for a loved one are the same today as they were when you went to bed last night. Einstein’s theory of relativity helps us understand the relationship between space and time. To use a modern word, they’re synced.
I think that Truth has to be bigger than the bubble in which we live. Einstein would agree. He once said,
The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms.
( Albert Einstein – The Merging of Spirit and Science)
Miguel Pro, SJ Gave his life for Christ the King
After explaining why I would give my life for this, I asked my FB friend, “If you were put with your back against the wall and told to believe a falsehood or shot for denying what you believe to be false, which would you choose?”
The response was rather interesting. “What a ridiculous choice. I would pretend to buy it and walk away, wondering at the stupidity of my captor.”
To which I was forced to respond, “There is the difference between you and I. I would never forfeit my life for a lie, but I would for the truth.” Our preoccupation with empirical truth has actually deteriorated our ethical character.
So she hit me with, “Your perception of the truth is not necessarily the truth. You have submitted yourself to ideological brainwashing.”
Here is the weakness in that thinking. You’re assuming a great deal about the other person. She’s assuming that I’m naive, ignorant, weak-minded and that she has no need to walk in my shoes, because she has her stuff and mine all figured out. We can never make such assumptions. St. Francis never assumed that he understood the other person. He allowed the other person to open himself up to him and he in turn reciprocated by opening himself to the other. He took the risk of loving, believing what he could not see and trusting.
I want to do the same. I want to take the risk of sharing my faith. I came to the faith on a risk. I trusted a man named Francis of Assisi. I believed that he would teach me about Jesus and he did.
For a few years, I lapsed in the faith and underwent a second conversion. This time I trusted my eyes. I had completed my studies in neurology and psychology and I’ went through a conversion experience that began in my mind.
As I studied studied neurology and human development. I came to the realization that the
human brain and its concomitant behaviors are too complex, too ordered, too consistent and at the same time outside of our ability to contain in time and space, which makes them consistently fluid and unpredictable, because we can’t create human experience. We have to wait for it to happen in order to attempt to understand it. We can’t create human passions. We have to wait for them and then analyze them.
For anything that precise to exist free of human control and capable of transcending space and time, while obeying natural law, there must be a Law Giver more intelligent and capable of much more than what I give him credit for.
Why do I do this? Why do I engage in discussions with fallen away Christians? Because I’m a Franciscan of Life. God sends us into the world to continue the work of Christ who is the firstborn of many brothers.
What did Christ say was his work, “Icame that they may have life, and have it abundantly,” (John 10:10) The Franciscan of Life is the instrument of Life calling out to life.
The article that triggered the dialogue.