One of the ways I share my faith in public is through my car bumper stickers. I have had different ones at different times-my current one reads “I Believe” in reference to faith in real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. I once had one that says, “Faith is the Climax of Reason and Logic.” This declaration contradicts a secular conception of truth, that is, what passes the test of reason and logic. It goes without saying that what is considered truth from a secular perspective is what is seen to be reasonable and logical. As people of faith however, faith is truth revealed by God who cannot deceive. The greatest gift we receive from God is the gift of faith which the writer of the letter to the Hebrews defines as “the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (11:1). In short, for the Christian, faith is an act of trust in God, and an assurance that what He reveals to us about Himself, our nature and the world is worth believing and living for. Also, as Pope John Paul II teaches in his encyclical letter, Fides et Ratio, faith does not contradict reason and logic, rather faith complements them and they are at the service of faith: “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.”
We are called to faith in God and his revealed truth that we can’t always comprehend fully by use of reason and logic. Our understanding of faith does not contradict reason nor does embrace of faith make us stupid, immature or childish. I once invited a German colleague who is an atheist to Mass when I was working on my PhD at USC, Columbia and she questioned me in reference to my homily that day about Guardian Angels. She says to me after mass: “you don’t believe in childish myths about angels, do you ?” When I affirmed my faith in guardian angels, she couldn't comprehend how an intellectual could admit to the existence of spirits or angels. We don’t have to doubt the veracity of our faith in God and his revealed truth because we have recourse to clouds of witnesses in the bible who faced their difficult existence with courage “with sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith” (Wis. 18:6). We see the existence of the cosmos, their order and beauty to know it is reasonable to trust God as its intelligent creator. We know also that we all, including atheists, live most of our lives by faith; we trust the engineers who built bridges we drive our cars on and pharmacists/doctors who make/prescribe medicines we take respectively. We cannot get rid of faith in God just by denying it, we cannot live reasonably without faith. It is the best gift given to us by God to live our life meaningfully and happily. God has given us the greatest gift, our faith and “much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more (Lk 12:48). Let’s live out our faith, accompanied by reason as we seek truth. On two wings of faith and reason, we approach the light of truth.
With love from a Preacher’s Perspective,
Fr. Bernard Oniwe, OP