2001-12-02 Faith is not a substitute for reason...
December 2, 2001
Faith is not a substitute for reason. It is an extension of reason not dimensions beyond limited human intelligence. "Eye has not seen, nor has ear heard, nor has it even entered the heart of man, the wonderful things God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor. 2:9)." It takes faith to trust that those we love and mourn deeply are now alive in a more glorious state. This is a reasonable belief because our Lord, who is Truth, says it is so.
In the first week of Advent, the Church looks at the mystery of death. This is one example of the Church's utter practicality in contrast to the denial of death in popular culture. Dying is one thing we do without training. Everyone who ever existed did it. To do it right is another matter. That is why we pray for the grace of a holy death. Grievous as death may be from a human perspective, life without death would be grotesque. The greatest deeds have been accomplished by men and women aware of the shortness of life. Today's life expectancy is 77 years, but in the perspective of eternity a life span of 100 would be little different from the average age of 37 as it was roughly until the invention of penicillin.
The human condition does not guarantee immortality. Some ancient pagans and modern sentimentalists have believed in immortality as the inability to due. Christians recognize death, and resurrection. Heavenly life comes only through Christ who raises from the dead. It is not a ghostly half-life. It is "fullness of life." Because this fullness is not on earth, all attempts at happiness are inadequate, and boredom sets in. Attraction to beauty and truth and goodness is an intimation that earthly life is not own ultimate destiny.
Since September 11, a deeper sobriety attends Christ's description of the approaching end of the world: "Nations will rise against Nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, plagues and famines in various places, and in the sky fearful omens and great signs (Luke 5:10-11)." All things are temporary, including the Temple in Jerusalem and to the World Trade Center in New York. What matters is not when the world will end, or even when we will end, but rather the fact that we will end and by God's grace be raised in glory. This is great good news from the viewpoint of all those saints who with angels join us at altar at the Sanctus of the Mass.
Fr. George W. Rutler