Sunday, 11 May 2014

The Abiding Presence Of The Holy Ghost in the Soul, by Bede Jarrett, O.P. part 20. Understanding.

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1. There is another gift required to perfect the intelligence when it is engaged upon the principles of truth. The mind was created by God to exercise itself upon truth, primarily, the Supreme Truth; secondarily, all truths which by their essence must themselves be radiations from the Supreme Truth. These truths are of endless variety, both in their relationship to each other and in the particular line in which they operate. They are the truths of arts and science, the intricate yet unchanging laws that govern the growth and development of matter, the complicated processes whereby organic beings build up their tissues and multiply themselves by means of the cell principle. There are again the curious laws, as they are called, that effect gravitation, that have to be counted upon in the science of architecture, and in all the various kindred crafts of man. There are principles, too, that underlie the whole series of the arts, principles of truth and life and beauty. Upon these the mind must feed, and in them all the mind must be able to trace the character and being of God. But there are also far higher truths which are taught only by revelation, safeguarded by authority, grouped under the title of faith. These truths are higher than the others, since they directly concern a higher being, i. e., God. All truths are truths about God, but the truths of faith concern themselves immediately with the being, life, and actions of God. Understanding, therefore, is the gift perfecting the mind for these.

2. It might seem, perhaps, that the light of faith is itself sufficient, and that no further gift were needed, since it is the very purpose of faith to make us accept this revelation of God, enlightening and strengthening the intelligence till under the dominion of the will it says: I believe. It is true that faith suffices for this, but we require something more than faith, or at least if we do not absolutely require more, we shall progress more rapidly and further when we are not only able to believe but to understand. In every article of faith there is always something which is mysterious or hidden, some obscurity due not to the entanglement of facts, but to the weakness of the human mind. Of course this must to some extent always exist, for man can never hope to comprehend God till by the beatific vision he sees Him face to face; but a good deal of the obscurity can be lifted by the mere operation of the mind under the light of God, not arising purely from study, but from the depth of love enkindled by God. It is a commonplace in the lives of the saints that without instruction they do yet manage to learn the deep mysteries of God; the same is true of many simple souls whom we meet from time to time in the world. They not only believe, but penetrate the truths of faith.

3. Here, then, I have ready to hand a most useful gift of God. I desire not only to believe, but to absorb and to penetrate the mysteries of God. I want to taste to the full the meaning of life as a whole, to develop every power that lies in me, to make the truths of revelation blossom out ever more fully, till their hidden and mystical significance becomes gradually more clear. The pages of Holy Scripture are full of instruction, but they will not yield up their secrets save to a soul attuned by God. That can be effected by the gift of understanding. I shall find by its means that these treasures are inexhaustible, that from mere abstract teaching the sayings of the Master and His Apostles become full of practical meaning, that all life about me takes on a new and richer significance. History and social life open their doors to whoever has this blessed gift, and it becomes clearly seen that their maker and builder is God. The dullness of souls who will not believe, or only believe and then stop short, becomes painful to note and bothersome to put up with, but this is the price one has to pay for so fine a vision. By this, then, we peer into the depths of faith, and find them gradually and steadily growing more and more clear and penetrable.