87 Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris (11 February ), AAS 76 (), 88 Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter. 26 Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris (11 February ), 9: AAS 76 (), 27 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. (Salvifici Doloris, VI). According to Jesus, suffering for his sake is our Christian vocation as members of his body. But John Paul reminds us.
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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 salvirici. 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 encicliica personal self-consciousness: This is why all that is the object of our knowledge becomes a part of our life.
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Moreover, a cursory glance at ancient history shows clearly how in different parts of the world, with their different cultures, there arise at the dolorsi time the fundamental questions which pervade human life: 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. The Church is no stranger to this journey of discovery, nor could she ever be. It is her duty to serve doliris in different ways, but one way in particular imposes a responsibility of a quite special kind: Men and women have at their disposal an array of resources for generating greater knowledge of truth so that their dolrois may be ever more human.
Among these is philosophywhich 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. 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 sapvifici 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 enckclica of society. 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 snciclica the wonder awakened in them by the contemplation of creation: 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 dalvifici.
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 aslvifici 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 effect, every philosophical systemwhile it should always be respected in its wholeness, without any instrumentalization, salvkfici still recognize the primacy of philosophical enquirywnciclica 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 xoloris 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 dolorix which may be judged a kind of spiritual heritage of humanity. It is as if we had come upon an implicit philosophyas a result of which all feel that they possess these salvkfici, 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. On dalvifici part, the Church cannot but set great value upon reason’s drive to enficlica 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 salvifico steps towards a truth which transcends them.
Fides et Ratio (14 September ) | John Paul II
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. Sure of her competence as the bearer of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the Church reaffirms the need to reflect upon truth. 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. 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. Underlying all the Church’s thinking is the awareness that she is the bearer of a message which has its origin in God himself cf. The knowledge which the Church offers to man has its origin not in any speculation of her own, however sublime, but in the word of God which she has received in faith cf.
At the origin of our life of faith there is an encounter, unique in kind, which discloses a mystery hidden for long ages cf. As the source of love, God desires to make himself known; and the knowledge which the human being has of God perfects all that the human mind can know of the meaning of life. Restating almost to the letter the teaching of the First Vatican Council’s Constitution Dei Filiusand taking into account the principles set out by the Council of Trent, the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution Dei Verbum pursued the age-old journey of understanding faithreflecting on Revelation in the light of the teaching of Scripture and of the entire Patristic tradition.
On the basis of mistaken and very widespread assertions, the rationalist critique of the time attacked faith and denied the possibility of any knowledge which was not the fruit of reason’s natural capacities. This obliged the Council to reaffirm emphatically that there exists a knowledge which is peculiar to faith, surpassing the knowledge proper to human reason, which nevertheless by its nature can discover the Creator.
This knowledge expresses a truth based upon the very fact of God who reveals himself, a truth which is most certain, since God neither deceives nor wishes to deceive. The First Vatican Council teaches, then, that the truth attained by philosophy and the truth of Revelation are neither identical nor mutually exclusive: With regard to the source, because we know in one by natural reason, in the other by divine faith.
Contemplating Jesus as revealer, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council stressed the salvific character of God’s Revelation in history, describing it in these terms: This plan of Revelation is realized by deeds and words having an inner unity: God’s Revelation is therefore immersed in time and history.
The truth about himself and his life which God has entrusted to humanity is immersed therefore in time and history; and it was declared once and for all in the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth.
The Constitution Dei Verbum puts it eloquently: For he sent his Son, the eternal Word who enlightens all people, so that he might dwell among them and tell them the innermost realities about God cf. Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, sent as ‘a human being to human beings’, ‘speaks the words of God’ Jn 3: To see Jesus is to see his Father Jn For this reason, Jesus perfected Revelation by fulfilling it through his whole work of making himself present and manifesting himself: For the People of God, therefore, history becomes a path to be followed to the end, so that by the unceasing action of the Holy Spirit cf.
History therefore becomes the arena where we see what God does for humanity.
God salvifjci to us in the doloriis we know best and can verify most easily, the things of our everyday life, apart from which we cannot understand ourselves.
In encciclica Incarnation of the Son of God we see forged the enduring and definitive synthesis which the human mind of itself could not even have imagined: The truth communicated in Christ’s Revelation is therefore no longer confined to a particular place or culture, but is offered to every man and woman who would welcome it as the word which is the absolutely valid source of salvjfici for human life.
Now, in Christ, all have access to the Father, since by his Death and Resurrection Christ has bestowed the divine life which the first Adam had refused cf.
Through this Revelation, men and women are offered the ultimate truth about their own life and about the goal of history. Where might the human being seek the answer to dramatic questions such as pain, the suffering of the innocent and death, if not in the light streaming from the mystery of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection?
It should nonetheless be kept in mind that Revelation remains charged with mystery. It is true that Jesus, with his entire life, revealed the countenance of the Father, for he came to teach the secret things of God.
Faith alone makes it possible to penetrate the mystery in a enciclicz that allows us to understand it coherently.