Hi there! Glad you stopped by. All comfy? Today we’re going to get the horse before the cart, so to speak.
We’ve been trained put reason before belief in to our culture. This type of reasoning and thinking came about in the “Enlightenment” period of history, in the 17th Century, when men began to put reason ahead of faith; and put individualism above Tradition. “If I can’t see it, touch it, understand it myself, it’s not valid.” That’s like parking the cart and then tying the horse to the back of it in the driveway. We could get much further if we re-hitched the cart of understanding to the horse of belief.
“Therefore do not seek to understand in order to believe, but believe that thou mayest understand”. — Augustine of Hippo
“Nor do I seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe that I may understand”. — Anselm of Canterbury
“We can’t have full knowledge all at once. We must start by believing; then afterwards we may be led on to master the evidence for ourselves.”
— St. Thomas Aquinas
So many of the saints of old had this same attitude – that we aren’t to understand in order to believe, but we believe in order to fully know. That’s how faith works. If we exhibit faith, then the Holy Spirit can come alongside and lead us to the understanding to support that faith. If we will look honestly and fearlessly, praying for wisdom and discernment, we will know in our heart of hearts if a thing is true. At that point, it’s up to us to believe and allow Him to teach our understanding.
There’s an ancient saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” So it is with faith and understanding. I found this true many times in my search leading to the Catholic faith. Many doctrines were new and different to my 40 years of ‘solid as a rock’ Protestant beliefs, founded on many years of serious study of the Bible. Conversely, this knowledge of the Scripture may be one reason why my entire journey to the Catholic Church was fairly simple and straightforward: God graced me to believe first, then understand more fully. I chose to believe based on the Sacred Scriptures, then allowed the Lord to lead me to resources to more fully ‘flesh out’ my understanding. He used modern apologists such as Scott Hahn, along with Church Fathers and Doctors of the Church, Early Church writings and history.
Let’s take, for example, Mary. The entire Marian doctrine set was difficult for me, so I prayed a lot – Lord, show me the truth, protect me from error, open my eyes and my heart, and please don’t let me fight anything that is true. He was faithful to again use apologists, mentors and Tradition to help me understand the Scriptures in ways I’d never seen them before. I love the Virgin Mary! Do I worship her? Absolutely not. Do I honor her more highly than any other mere mortal? You bet. She was the ONLY one chosen to bear the true Son of God; He created her specifically for that purpose from eternity past. That should deserve tremendous respect! And while I’m on my soap box here, if we can turn politicians, athletes, musicians and actors/actresses into ‘idols’, how much more can we honor the woman whom God chose to bear His only Son?
I could go on and on with various points of doctrine, devotions and teachings, but you get the idea.
Are there places that you’re holding back belief until you’re shown evidence to your own satisfaction? Are you holding back because there’s something you just don’t want to believe- maybe because if you believed, you’d have to obey? Maybe you should ‘stand down’ and accept it in humility. The Sacred Scripture says that God stands opposed to those who walk in pride. (James 4:6-7, quoting Proverbs 3:34) The original language uses a military term for ‘oppose’ that means He sets Himself in battle array, like an army against the proud. I certainly don’t want to fight that battle!
Choose to believe, then ask Him to show you the rest. Believe that He may enlighten your understanding. He won’t steer you wrong. Luke 11:11-13 says, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
And who knows what blessings may be just around the corner? Try it, I dare you!