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 (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2).
1. In both East and West, we may trace a journey which has led humanity down the centuries to meet and engage truth more and more deeply. It is a journey which has unfolded—as it must—within the horizon of personal self-consciousness: the more human beings know reality and the world, the more they know themselves in their uniqueness, with the question of the meaning of things and of their very existence becoming ever more pressing. This is why all that is the object of our knowledge becomes a part of our life. The admonition Know yourself was carved on the temple portal at Delphi, as testimony to a basic truth to be adopted as a minimal norm by those who seek to set themselves apart from the rest of creation as “human beings”, that is as those who “know themselves”.
Moreover, a cursory glance at ancient history shows clearly how in different parts of the world, with their different cultures, there arise at the same time the fundamental questions which pervade human life: Who am I? Where have I come from and where am I going? Why is there evil? What is there after this life? These are the questions which we find in the sacred writings of Israel, as also in the Veda and the Avesta; we find them in the writings of Confucius and Lao-Tze, and in the preaching of Tirthankara and Buddha; they appear in the poetry of Homer and in the tragedies of Euripides and Sophocles, as they do in the philosophical writings of Plato and Aristotle. They are questions which have their common source in the quest for meaning which has always compelled the human heart. In fact, the answer given to these questions decides the direction which people seek to give to their lives.
2. The Church is no stranger to this journey of discovery, nor could she ever be. From the moment when, through the Paschal Mystery, she received the gift of the ultimate truth about human life, the Church has made her pilgrim way along the paths of the world to proclaim that Jesus Christ is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). It is her duty to serve humanity in different ways, but one way in particular imposes a responsibility of a quite special kind: the diakonia of the truth.(1) This mission on the one hand makes the believing community a partner in humanity's shared struggle to arrive at truth; (2) and on the other hand it obliges the believing community to proclaim the certitudes arrived at, albeit with a sense that every truth attained is but a step towards that fullness of truth which will appear with the final Revelation of God: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully” (1 Cor 13:12).
3. Men and women have at their disposal an array of resources for generating greater knowledge of truth so that their lives may be ever more human. Among these is philosophy, which is directly concerned with asking the question of life's meaning and sketching an answer to it. Philosophy emerges, then, as one of noblest of human tasks. According to its Greek etymology, the term philosophy means “love of wisdom”. Born and nurtured when the human being first asked questions about the reason for things and their purpose, philosophy shows in different modes and forms that the desire for truth is part of human nature itself. It is an innate property of human reason to ask why things are as they are, even though the answers which gradually emerge are set within a horizon which reveals how the different human cultures are complementary.
Philosophy's powerful influence on the formation and development of the cultures of the West should not obscure the influence it has also had upon the ways of understanding existence found in the East. Every people has its own native and seminal wisdom which, as a true cultural treasure, tends to find voice and develop in forms which are genuinely philosophical. One example of this is the basic form of philosophical knowledge which is evident to this day in the postulates which inspire national and international legal systems in regulating the life of society.
4. Nonetheless, it is true that a single term conceals a variety of meanings. Hence the need for a preliminary clarification. Driven by the desire to discover the ultimate truth of existence, human beings seek to acquire those universal elements of knowledge which enable them to understand themselves better and to advance in their own self-realization. These fundamental elements of knowledge spring from the wonder awakened in them by the contemplation of creation: human beings are astonished to discover themselves as part of the world, in a relationship with others like them, all sharing a common destiny. Here begins, then, the journey which will lead them to discover ever new frontiers of knowledge. Without wonder, men and women would lapse into deadening routine and little by little would become incapable of a life which is genuinely personal.
Through philosophy's work, the ability to speculate which is proper to the human intellect produces a rigorous mode of thought; and then in turn, through the logical coherence of the affirmations made and the organic unity of their content, it produces a systematic body of knowledge. In different cultural contexts and at different times, this process has yielded results which have produced genuine systems of thought. Yet often enough in history this has brought with it the temptation to identify one single stream with the whole of philosophy. In such cases, we are clearly dealing with a “philosophical pride” which seeks to present its own partial and imperfect view as the complete reading of all reality. In effect, every philosophical system, while it should always be respected in its wholeness, without any instrumentalization, must still recognize the primacy of philosophical enquiry, from which it stems and which it ought loyally to serve.
Although times change and knowledge increases, it is possible to discern a core of philosophical insight within the history of thought as a whole. Consider, for example, the principles of non-contradiction, finality and causality, as well as the concept of the person as a free and intelligent subject, with the capacity to know God, truth and goodness. Consider as well certain fundamental moral norms which are shared by all. These are among the indications that, beyond different schools of thought, there exists a body of knowledge which may be judged a kind of spiritual heritage of humanity. It is as if we had come upon an implicit philosophy, as a result of which all feel that they possess these principles, albeit in a general and unreflective way. Precisely because it is shared in some measure by all, this knowledge should serve as a kind of reference-point for the different philosophical schools. Once reason successfully intuits and formulates the first universal principles of being and correctly draws from them conclusions which are coherent both logically and ethically, then it may be called right reason or, as the ancients called it, orth(o-)s logos, recta ratio.
5. On her part, the Church cannot but set great value upon reason's drive to attain goals which render people's lives ever more worthy. She sees in philosophy the way to come to know fundamental truths about human life. At the same time, the Church considers philosophy an indispensable help for a deeper understanding of faith and for communicating the truth of the Gospel to those who do not yet know it.
Therefore, following upon similar initiatives by my Predecessors, I wish to reflect upon this special activity of human reason. I judge it necessary to do so because, at the present time in particular, the search for ultimate truth seems often to be neglected. Modern philosophy clearly has the great merit of focusing attention upon man. From this starting-point, human reason with its many questions has developed further its yearning to know more and to know it ever more deeply. Complex systems of thought have thus been built, yielding results in the different fields of knowledge and fostering the development of culture and history. Anthropology, logic, the natural sciences, history, linguistics and so forth—the whole universe of knowledge has been involved in one way or another. Yet the positive results achieved must not obscure the fact that reason, in its one-sided concern to investigate human subjectivity, seems to have forgotten that men and women are always called to direct their steps towards a truth which transcends them. Sundered from that truth, individuals are at the mercy of caprice, and their state as person ends up being judged by pragmatic criteria based essentially upon experimental data, in the mistaken belief that technology must dominate all. It has happened therefore that reason, rather than voicing the human orientation towards truth, has wilted under the weight of so much knowledge and little by little has lost the capacity to lift its gaze to the heights, not daring to rise to the truth of being. Abandoning the investigation of being, modern philosophical research has concentrated instead upon human knowing. Rather than make use of the human capacity to know the truth, modern philosophy has preferred to accentuate the ways in which this capacity is limited and conditioned.
This has given rise to different forms of agnosticism and relativism which have led philosophical research to lose its way in the shifting sands of widespread scepticism. Recent times have seen the rise to prominence of various doctrines which tend to devalue even the truths which had been judged certain. A legitimate plurality of positions has yielded to an undifferentiated pluralism, based upon the assumption that all positions are equally valid, which is one of today's most widespread symptoms of the lack of confidence in truth. Even certain conceptions of life coming from the East betray this lack of confidence, denying truth its exclusive character and assuming that truth reveals itself equally in different doctrines, even if they contradict one another. On this understanding, everything is reduced to opinion; and there is a sense of being adrift. While, on the one hand, philosophical thinking has succeeded in coming closer to the reality of human life and its forms of expression, it has also tended to pursue issues—existential, hermeneutical or linguistic—which ignore the radical question of the truth about personal existence, about being and about God. Hence we see among the men and women of our time, and not just in some philosophers, attitudes of widespread distrust of the human being's great capacity for knowledge. With a false modesty, people rest content with partial and provisional truths, no longer seeking to ask radical questions about the meaning and ultimate foundation of human, personal and social existence. In short, the hope that philosophy might be able to provide definitive answers to these questions has dwindled.
6. Sure of her competence as the bearer of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the Church reaffirms the need to reflect upon truth. This is why I have decided to address you, my venerable Brother Bishops, with whom I share the mission of “proclaiming the truth openly” (2 Cor 4:2), as also theologians and philosophers whose duty it is to explore the different aspects of truth, and all those who are searching; and I do so in order to offer some reflections on the path which leads to true wisdom, so that those who love truth may take the sure path leading to it and so find rest from their labours and joy for their spirit.
I feel impelled to undertake this task above all because of the Second Vatican Council's insistence that the Bishops are “witnesses of divine and catholic truth”.(3) To bear witness to the truth is therefore a task entrusted to us Bishops; we cannot renounce this task without failing in the ministry which we have received. In reaffirming the truth of faith, we can both restore to our contemporaries a genuine trust in their capacity to know and challenge philosophy to recover and develop its own full dignity.
There is a further reason why I write these reflections. In my Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, I drew attention to “certain fundamental truths of Catholic doctrine which, in the present circumstances, risk being distorted or denied”.(4) In the present Letter, I wish to pursue that reflection by concentrating on the theme of truth itself and on its foundation in relation to faith. For it is undeniable that this time of rapid and complex change can leave especially the younger generation, to whom the future belongs and on whom it depends, with a sense that they have no valid points of reference. The need for a foundation for personal and communal life becomes all the more pressing at a time when we are faced with the patent inadequacy of perspectives in which the ephemeral is affirmed as a value and the possibility of discovering the real meaning of life is cast into doubt. This is why many people stumble through life to the very edge of the abyss without knowing where they are going. At times, this happens because those whose vocation it is to give cultural expression to their thinking no longer look to truth, preferring quick success to the toil of patient enquiry into what makes life worth living. With its enduring appeal to the search for truth, philosophy has the great responsibility of forming thought and culture; and now it must strive resolutely to recover its original vocation. This is why I have felt both the need and the duty to address this theme so that, on the threshold of the third millennium of the Christian era, humanity may come to a clearer sense of the great resources with which it has been endowed and may commit itself with renewed courage to implement the plan of salvation of which its history is part.
It should be noted, however, that the order need not always and necessarily be as stated. Reconciliation with self may in instances be necessary before one can be reconciled with neighbor, and reconcilation with neighbor may come as a preparation to be reconciled with God. Grace works at times mysteriously through any given individual, so that ultimately reconciliation in whatever order, ends up so that every single person who desires it, may ultimately live in total reconciliation. Reconciliation becomes necessary when one realizes that he/she has caused hurt to some person. This can be the Person of God, the person of neighbor, or the person of self. There is no need to seek reconciliation with non-persons. Likewise, there is no need to see reconciliation until and unless we realize that we have caused hurt. It is spiritually helpful and praiseworthy when one is not conscious of hurting anyone, yet would find it in one's heart to say, "If I had hurt anyone without my knowledge, I am sorry and would wish to be reconciled."
Reconciliation is not possible unless there is a sincere regret within one's heart that he/she had caused hurt. It is an act of charity to be able to go to someone and say, "You may not realize it, but you have hurt me." This helps both parties, the one who unknowingly has hurt, and the one hurt. If one has been hurt and keeps it hidden and/or suppressed, it does not contribute to one's peace of soul. If one, not realizing that he or she has caused hurt, finds out, the opportunity to ask for forgiveness is then given and peace can be brought between two people. It is a helpful practice to examine one's conscience daily in order to become aware of having offended someone. The conscience is God-given so that acting upon it one can better maintain within oneself a state of peace.
In the next installment we will complete this short series, focusing on the fact that to seek reconciliation one must sincerely pray from and with the heart.
Beloved Hidden Flower, I say now to all of my little ones: Why have you hardened your hearts? Why do you persist in allowing satan's lies to cloak your minds and hearts? I solemnly tell you the evil one is enraged. To all who have converted their hearts, the evil one will strike doubly at their loved ones in order to weaken them. That is why I ask for family prayer. My little innocent children, the very young are particularly attacked now as satan's days draw to a close. Crimes shall be committed against and by these little ones, all to cause despair to their parents and relatives. My Divine Son is the answer. A life of total prayer is required.
Now must all of my children call upon their angels for help and protection. Seek heavenly help and it shall be given to you. Arm yourself with my Divine Son. Wear His Cross, and surrender joyfully to Him, bearing all things in Love for His Sake.
Annihilate your bodily passions by means of prayer and fasting. I ask all my little ones to return to deep devotion and reverence for The Blessed Sacrament. I desire that in every church without exception my Divine Son should be adored in the Monstrance, and vigils should be kept at all times. Only in this way shall the evil one be prevented from taking my Divine Son away from you.
You scoff, and refuse to believe. Yet already great sorrow afflicts the world. The sorrow will be universal, and even then many hearts will remain hardened. My days to be with you shall come to an end, and you must be strong, prepared for the battle which will ensue.
Be not afraid but consecrate and dedicate yourselves to my Immaculate Heart and my Son's Sacred Heart. The Flame of Love shall vanquish the darkness. Seek the wound of the Flame of Love that you might not perish.
I love and bless you. Thank you for responding to my Call!
I say now to all of my children: Woe! You have become as rotting corpses. Your very lives are tombs, which you adorn with finest clothes and precious gems. All the while your souls are the victim of your own sinfulness and satan's snares. They have been blackened by unrepentant sin, and their stench has become your daily air.
Therefore, I say to you that the Hand of the Father will not be held back, but all that has been foretold shall now be fulfilled. I weep! O! my little ones, how can you refuse the Infinite Love and Mercy of your Heavenly Father? Yes, now His Justice shall fall. It shall fulfill all scripture. You will not be spared, for God's Justice is also His Love.
Beloved children, the moment for your conversion must be now. There is no more time. Will you not respond? Will you not believe and trust in God? How I long to gather all of you in my Immaculate Heart. How I want to shelter all beneath my Immaculate Mantle.
But you continually refuse my invitation. You turn away from God and seek the world and the evil one. Woe to all who persist. For to them shall come all of God's Justice.
As the Feast of my last apparition at my beloved Fatima approaches, I say to all the world that even at this time the world scoffed and laughed at God's providence. But that which I requested then has not been fully accomplished. You are seduced by the great false peace. You are secure in your nothingness, believing it to be true. In reality the sands have run out of the hour glass. The very foundations of the earth are trembling. At God's command every mountain shall fall and there will be terror. Yet all who are gathered beneath my Mantle shall be at peace. Their voices will praise God in trust and love.
The great apostasy has come to my Son's Church. Yes, this apostasy will tear asunder all that my Son gave, but it shall not perish. It shall be my faithful little army who will persevere and at the moment of my Son's Glorious return they shall be there to welcome Him as King of Kings.
Prepare yourselves. Make constant sacrifice and do great penance, for the world's purification has come. Bow low your heads. Lift high your hearts. The God of All Creation shall cleanse His children. The fire of Heaven shall strike. The angels of heaven shall move among you with swords of justice and truth. The angels shall clear the threshing floor and the good grains of wheat are all too few.
Heed your Mother's Holy Words, and do not despair. If your heart is just and upright you shall not be left alone, but be fed by my Divine Son.
Pray! Pray! Pray! Thank you for responding to my Call!