Saturday, November 29, 2008

True Faith Cannot Be Put Into Parentheses

Over at Chronicles Athos posted Cultural Dialogue linking an earlier NCR blog post by John L. Allen Jr. Here is a newer post on the same topic from Allen.

Allen says, "Put in sound-bite fashion, the pope’s line boils down to this: interreligious dialogue no, intercultural dialogue yes."

Please read his entire post, however I was struck by what Pope B16 says and then I read today's meditation of the day in the Magnificat and it seem to go right along with this idea that we cannot put our faith in parentheses as would be demanded in today's concepts of interreligious dialogue.

The Vigilance of Faith

We believe not in propositions but in the reality which is expressed by the propositions; we believe, not in a creed, but through a creed. The expression of divine reality in human words is necessarily inadequate; the understanding of the divine reality by the human mind is necessarily groping, and we may well make mistakes. It is possible to accept the formulas of the creeds and still to have a quite wrong idea of the nature of God and of his providence; it is possible to worship God and still to fall into a sort of practical idolatry. If you turn your religion into magic, if you expect an immediate and literal answer to all your prayers, if you expect the grace of God to do for you by miracle what only demands a little hard work, you are misunderstanding the faith. If you think of God in such a way as to project on to him the human emotions of jealousy, anger, spite, you are misunderstanding the faith. If you turn your worship into self-indulgence, your progress in virtue into self-glorification or spiritual valetudinarianism, your religion into a purely formal and external affair, your are misunderstanding your faith. If you allow yourself to accept the assumptions of a pagan environment as far as conduct is concerned, and keep your faith in abstraction from practical affairs, you are betraying it. And you are betraying it, too, if you think of it simply as something received from without, a static deposit, which you have only to accept and guard but without making it your own, without becoming it.

The truth is given us from without, yes; but it is something that we have to realize in actual experience: we have to translate the formulas of the creed into the stuff of life; we have to learn so to see the faith in all the everyday circumstances and events of life that it becomes not something we sometimes think of but something we always are.
- Father Gerald Vann, O.P.

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