Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Michael Terheyden

8/9/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Truth, beauty, and goodness are interconnected. So it is not difficult to see that moral goodness, conscience, freedom, and our longing for happiness and the infinite are also interconnected and can help us come to know God in creation.

When we look at human experience, we find that human nature desires what the natural world cannot give. However, this apparent contradiction is not telling us that our nature or desires are misleading us. It is telling us that our nature is to desire the supernatural.

Highlights

By Michael Terheyden

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/9/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Year of Faith

Keywords: Catholic Church, Catechism, Catechesis, Christianity, Faith, Religion, Michael Terheyden


KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - When we begin to search for God, we quickly find that there are two ways of coming to know God in creation. The first way is through the physical world, and the second way is through the human person. In this article, I will reflect on the search for God through the human person.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "The human person: with his openness to truth and beauty, his sense of moral goodness, his freedom and the voice of his conscience, with his longings for the infinite and for happiness, man questions himself about God's existence. In all this he discerns signs of his spiritual soul. The soul, the 'seed of eternity we bear in ourselves, irreducible to the merely material,' can have its origin only in God" (CCC 33).

This paragraph is so rich that it will be the entire focus of this article. However, even then, I will only be able to hint at its richness. It references the Vatican II document Gaudium et spes. (The following quotations are taken from the translation on the Vatican website.)

Gaudium et spes says that we are a unity of body and soul. And through man's "bodily composition he gathers to himself the elements of the material world; thus they reach their crown through him, and through him raise their voice in free praise of the Creator" (GS 14).

Human beings are greater than the material world. Persons are more than the mere elements of nature or nameless numbers in the collective of humanity. By virtue of their interior qualities, all persons, at every stage of their lives from conception to their natural end, are greater than the sum of material things.

We can discover that we are more than the sum of material things by looking inward. God, the depth of reality, and our proper destiny can be found in the human heart. When we search our heart and discover in ourselves a spiritual and immortal soul, we are not being "mocked by a fantasy born only of physical or social influences. "Rather, we are "laying hold of the proper truth" (GS 14).

We discern truth with our intellect. In a certain respect, then, our intellect signifies that we surpass the world of material things. This is possible because our intellect dimly reflects the mind of God. Our intellectual nature finds its perfection in wisdom. Wisdom "attracts the mind of man to a quest and a love for what is true and good. Steeped in wisdom, man passes through visible realities to those which are unseen" (GS 15).

The Catechism makes this connection from a slightly different angle. It says, "Truth in words, the rational expression of the knowledge of created and uncreated reality, is necessary to man, who is endowed with intellect" (CCC 2500). But the Catechism does not stop there; it reveals other connections. Our intellect enables us to discern order and harmony in the created world, and we often experience this order and harmony as truth and beauty. Thus, the Catechism calls truth beautiful. It also refers to spiritual and moral beauty.

Truth, beauty, and goodness are interconnected. So it is not difficult to see that moral goodness, conscience, freedom, and our longing for happiness and the infinite are also interconnected and can help us come to know God in creation. Again, I refer to Gaudium et spes.

In the depth of our conscience, we detect a law which is not of our making and which we are compelled to obey. It calls us to love the good and avoid evil. It is a law written by God and placed by Him in the heart of every person. It is so central to our humanity and our destiny that our dignity depends on our obedience to it. "Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths. In a wonderful manner conscience reveals that law which is fulfilled by love of God and neighbor" (GS 16).

However, our obedience to this law only has meaning if we are free to choose the good. "For its part, authentic freedom is an exceptional sign of the divine image within man. For God has willed that man remain 'under the control of his own decisions,' so that he can seek his Creator spontaneously, and come freely to utter and blissful perfection through loyalty to Him. Hence man's dignity demands that he act according to a knowing and free choice that is personally motivated and prompted from within, not under blind internal impulse nor by mere external pressure" (GS 17).

But our freedom has been damaged by sin. As a result, our understanding of freedom has become distorted, and we often use our freedom for perverse and destructive ends. What's more, death has entered the world through sin. The destructive nature of death is the bane of humanity, but it also sheds light on our humanity.

"It is in the face of death that the riddle a human existence grows most acute. Not only is man tormented by pain and by the advancing deterioration of his body, but even more so by a dread of perpetual extinction. He rightly follows the intuition of his heart when he abhors and repudiates the utter ruin and total disappearance of his own person. He rebels against death because he bears in himself an eternal seed which cannot be reduced to sheer matter. All the endeavors of technology cannot calm his anxiety; for prolongation is unable to satisfy that desire for higher life which is inescapably lodged in his breast" (GS 18).

We long for eternal life and happiness. We feel this longing deep within our being. Yet, some people would have us believe that these longings, which reflect the deepest desires of the human heart, cannot be trusted. They tell us that such desires are merely wishful thinking or our collective unconscious. I disagree. I believe specific realities exist that will satisfy the aching hunger caused by these desires.

The Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft sums up this belief in his book, Heaven, The Heart's Deepest Longing.

Dr. Kreeft writes, "Thus the proposition 'every natural, innate desire has a real object' is understood to be true because we understand what a natural desire is and what nature is. Nature is meaningful, teleological, full of design and purpose. It is ecological, arranging a fit between organism and environment, between desire and satisfaction, between appetite and food. 'Nature makes nothing in vain'" (Heaven 228).

When we take a close look at human experience, we find that human nature desires what nature cannot give us, that "our nature contradicts nature," as Dr. Kreeft puts it. However, this apparent contradiction is not telling us that our nature and desires are misleading us. It is telling us that our nature is to desire that which is supernatural, that we are created by God for God.
-----

Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.



Comments


More Year of Faith

The Wedding Invitation of Jesus: We are Called to Live the Nuptial Mystery Watch

Image of There will be no giving or taking in marriage in the kingdom to come because the very purpose and meaning of marriage itself will be fulfilled. (See, e.g. Mk. 12:18-27) We will be living in the fullness of the Communion of Love with the Trinity. The symbol will give way to the eternal reality, the Sacrament will be fulfilled in the fullness of communion. All of human love will be completed in the Love which lasts forever.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

It is not accidental that the Bible, from beginning to the end, uses marriage as a metaphor and a symbol to reveal the plan of God for the whole human race.  Marriage was God's plan from the beginning as we see in the first book of Genesis. Throughout the Old ... continue reading


The Sower. The Seed. The Field. Understanding the Christian Mission Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

"A sower went out to sow. And, as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for ... continue reading


Reflection on the Catholic Catechism: Understanding the Bible Watch

Image of

By Michael Terheyden

How we interpret the Bible is of immense importance! It directly affects what we believe about Christ, the Church, and our faith, but it is also related to many of the grave problems in our society and the world. Yet, despite the gravity of this situation, we have good ... continue reading


Christ the King, the Year of Faith and the Catholic Counterculture Watch

Image of On this Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Year of Faith inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI comes to a ceremonial end. However, in reality, it cannot and will not end, because Jesus Christ is King! The Year of Faith was only the beginning for those who choose to live the Life of Faith.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. It is one of many opportunities the Catholic Church year offers to each one of us to consider the creature called time, receive it as a gift, and begin to really live our lives differently.  This is one of ... continue reading


The Bones of Peter, the Successor of Peter: Close of the Year of Faith Watch

Image of The bones of St. Peter the Apostle

By Deacon Keith Fournier

On the Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Sunday which marks both the end of the Church Year and the end of the Year of Faith, inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis greeted thousands of the faithful and presided over Holy Mass and the ... continue reading


Fr Randy Sly on Becoming a House of Prayer Watch

Image of Jesus drives the money changers from the temple. 

With hearts clear and focused on our Lord, we can follow the advice of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Everything starts with prayer. Love to pray--feel the need to pray often during the day and take the trouble to pray. If you want to pray better, you must pray more. The more you pray, the easier it becomes. Perfect prayer does not consist of many words but in the fervor of the desire which raises the heart to Jesus. (Fr. Randy Sly)

By Father Randy Sly

Becoming a House of Prayer is the best discipline we can take on. St. Ephraem of Syria states that Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy ... continue reading


Jesus Weeps and Offers the Path to Peace Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

If this day you only knew what makes for peace- but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your ... continue reading


The Kingdom of God is Among You. What Did Jesus Mean? Watch

Image of The Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well. Indeed, we call an apostolate every activity of the Mystical Body that aims to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth. (CCC#863)

By Deacon Keith Fournier

In Jesus Christ, the Kingdom has been inaugurated. Upon his return it will be made complete and fully manifested in a new heaven and a new earth. We are members of the Body of Christ which makes it present here and now - as seed and sign for a world which is in labor. ... continue reading


Year of Faith: Bringing the Feast of the Presentation of Mary to Life Watch

Image of The Feast of the Presentation of Mary is celebrated in both the Eastern and Western Churches. It recalls the day in the life of the Jewish girl named Mary (Maryam) when her parents, Joachim and Anne, presented her to the Lord in the temple and dedicated her life to Him.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

On this Feast of the Presentation of Mary, let us make the choice to surrender ourselves to the same Lord who Joachim and Ann honored when they presented their dear daughter in the temple. Their daughter, Mary, became the Second Eve. The New Creation was born through ... continue reading


WEDNESDAY HOMILY: Our Lady's Encouragement Watch

Image of

By Fr Samuel Medley, SOLT

I got off the subway at Termini station and went up to the busy streets of Rome.  I had to walk past the place where all the prostitutes gathered.  I looked down at the street and began to pray in fear.  Suddenly I heard a feminine voice say, "Be a man!" ... continue reading


All Year of Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 4:1-6
1 I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you therefore to ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:54-59
54 He said again to the crowds, 'When you see a cloud ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 24th, 2014 Image

St. Anthony Mary Claret
October 24: Claretian archbishop and founder. Anthony was born in Salient in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter