Fides et Ratio

Today is the anniversary of what might be John Paul II’s most important encyclical, Fides et ratio. Although I have not the time to give it a full treatment, if you have not read it I strongly urge you to do so as soon as possible. Catholicism’s eager embrace of reason & philosophy not only sets it apart from most other religions but also positions it to best respond to the philosophical failures that are hurting the modern world. If the modern world is to find some redemption, it will be because these words are heeded:

Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves

5 Responses to Fides et Ratio

  • I’d welcome — personally and professionally — any thoughts on how we might facilitate the “incarnation” of papal documents amongst the masses; I’ve got a few ideas, but I’d love to hear any thoughts my fellow contributors and commentators might have.

  • I think on Catholic social teaching as a whole, the best thing is to start referencing them in homilies. If the priests act as if Catholic teaching is important, the faithful will follow suit. Furthermore, I think reading clubs or such that go over the encyclical would be great to getting adults caught up; children should get a LOT more exposure to them in religion class/ccd.

    However, I don’t know if there’s anything the Vatican can do to get them respected by the masses-and that shouldn’t be the focus yet. Let’s get the Catholics to care before we start worrying about the non-Catholics.

  • I meant the Catholic masses, Michael… most of them — as you know — are just as clueless as the non-Catholics, much to our chagrin.

    Reading groups are a good idea, but the problem there is that most Catholics are afraid of even *trying*… I think the term “encyclical” must somehow be intimidating. :-)

    My current thought: start a reading group that emphasizes incarnation, i.e. not just understanding the text intellectually, but embodying it in our lives. And the next crucial step: the participants who value the group need to step up and *invite* others to come! We Catholics aren’t very good at that.

  • I wasn’t sure which masses you were referring to! lol

    Well, most Catholics are afraid of trying-by themselves. They’re intimidated by the philosophy, whatever. I think they can have some success if led by the priest though after the priest builds up some trust in the parish. Even if people are just showing up to hear the priest talk and explain, that’ll do some good.

    That said, I think Catholics could probably use more philosophy in their training so they’re not so afraid of encyclicals.

    And you’re definitely right; the groups need to emphasize that this isn’t just book learning; this is helpful information for how to better live out our lives as we strive for holiness.

  • Agreed, with this caveat: I think those of us who are capable must take the lead; we need to get the approval/permission/endorsement of our pastor, but chances are, he’d be *thrilled* to have us offer something like this… the guys are stretched pretty thin these days, and as much as I’d love to have them doing the actual teaching, I’ll settle for them letting competent laity doing it if he can’t.

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