Blason

SOME PROOFS OF THE TRUTH OF THE CATHOLIC RELIGION



Of all the truths capable of arousing man’s curiosity, the most important is God’s existence. It is the fundamental basis of all religion. In order to believe, it is first necessary to know that God exists. If anyone wishes to know with certainty whether God exists, he must first be ready to do everything that God will want of him after he has come to know Him. Otherwise, it is to be feared that his bad conscience will heap up so many objections that he will never get to know the Truth. Honestly, he can and must make this prayer: “God, if You exist, deign to make it known to me!”

The truth of God’s existence is so important that each man has the serious duty, both to himself and to his neighbor, to study in depth the adequate reasons for all to believe, and, if he has arrived at the truth, to adhere to it and to be faithful to it in his conduct.

There exist numerous proofs of the existence of God and His Revelation which are accessible to human reason. Here is one that rests on certain data. This proof is rigorous. It comprises seven affirmations which are linked to each other.

1) All order proves the existence of an intelligence.

All men, by reason of their intelligent nature, are obliged to recognize in things arranged in an orderly fashion the effect of an intelligence, and no one would attribute to chance or blind evolution a piece of work that has been carried out with care, such as, for instance, a newspaper, a watch or a house... And the more complicated and perfect the order is, the greater must be the intelligence of its maker.

2) There is order in the universe.

There exists in the visible world an extremely complicated, sublime, constant and useful order. Let us quote as witnesses: geology, botany, zoology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, physiology, anatomy, etc., which show and throw light on the laws and the order of natural things. An example: air is formed of one volume of oxygen to four volumes of nitrogen. A mixture in other proportions would be dangerous for the life of living beings. By what mechanism does the composition of the air remain constant? All breathing, all combustion, all decomposition require oxygen. Animals and plants, by breathing and decomposing, give off carbon dioxide, which is indispensable to green plants. The plants absorb it continuously and transform it, and this transformation is accompanied by the discharge of oxygen. That is how, for thousands of years, the air has kept its constant composition capable of supporting the life of living beings...

3) The order that we observe in the universe proves the existence of a superior intelligence.

The order demonstrated by the physical sciences suffices, from what we have just shown in §1 to prove the existence of a superior intelligence that has put this order in the universe, and this despite certain phenomena as yet unexplained, or apparently disorderly (for example, suffering and death).

4) The intelligence organizing the world is necessarily the one that created it.

The order which exists in the universe is demonstrated by science in the biggest as well as in the smallest beings. This order pertains to what these beings are in themselves. Consequently, the one who arranged this order is the one who entirely conceived and produced these beings from nothing, at least in the primordial elements of which they are composed; in other words, He has created them.

5) The intelligence creating and organizing the world has infinite power; it is called “God.”

Only an infinite power can overcome the infinite disproportion that exists between nothingness and a created being. Let us make a mathematical comparison. To pass from 1/2 to 1, we must multiply 1/2 by 2: 2 x 1/2 = 1. To pass from 1/100 to 1, we must multiply 1/100 by 100: 100 x 1/100 = 1. To pass from 1/10,000 to 1, we must multiply 1/10,000 by 10,000: 10,000 x 1/10,000 = 1, etc. The smaller the first term and the nearer it approaches zero, the greater must be the multiplier to obtain the result “1”. If the first term tends toward zero, to obtain 1, the multiplier must tend toward infinity. Although infinity, which is the absence of any limit, can never be obtained by addition or multiplication, we can say in all accuracy that to pass from nothingness to any being whatever, to create from nothing, infinite power is required (cf. Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiæ, Ia 45, 5 ad 3). This infinite power can exist only in an infinite Being, and the infinite Being, by definition, cannot lack any perfection! It is infinitely wise, infinitely good, infinitely happy, etc. There is only one infinite being, because if there were several, they could be distinguished one from another only by the absence in some of perfection which the others had: they would not then be infinite. This infinite Being is unique, and is called: God.

6) Has God revealed a religion to men?

We still need to know whether God has manifested Himself to men and whether He has revealed to them a way of behaving toward Him, that is, a religion. First of all, let us note that if God has revealed to men a religion including truths that their reason could not discover, this religion is necessarily unique. He cannot in fact, because He is Truth Itself, have revealed several religions whose dogmas (fundamental truths) contradict each other. We must conclude that if two religions teach contradictory truths, at least one of them is false. For example, where the Muslim says, “Jesus Christ is not God,” the Catholic says, “Jesus Christ is God.” If a proposition is true, its opposite is false: Christ is either God or He is not.

God has indeed spoken. Much more, God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that those who believe in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting (Jn 3:16). The historical existence of Jesus Christ has not been denied by any serious historian; it was established by the eye-witness testimony of the Apostles, but also by authors, pagan and Jewish, who were contemporary with Jesus Christ (Tacitus, Flavius Josephus...). The Gospels, historical descriptions of the life and preaching, of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, were written between the years 40 and 100 by Apostles (Saint Matthew and Saint John) or their direct collaborators (the Evangelists Saint Mark and Saint Luke). Their authenticity is indisputable: it is attested by the age and number of manuscripts that are in agreement with each other and have come down to us. Their truth is proven by the martyrdom of the Apostles and of numerous disciples contemporary with Jesus, who preferred torture and death to denial of their faith.

Now, the Gospels teach clearly that Jesus Christ said that He was the only Son of God (cf. Mt 16:16-17; Jn 17:21-22, etc.), and that He proved this assertion by means of miracles, and especially by means of His own Resurrection. We can therefore conclude in all certainty that Jesus is the Son of God, that He is God Himself, equal to the Father: I and the Father are one (Jn 10:30). Consequently, we must submit ourselves to Christ.

7) Did Jesus Christ found a Church? Which Church is it?

Yes, Christ founded a visible society, the Church, which has the vocation to continue His mission and to gather all men in the truth until the end of time. Our Lord in fact said to Saint Peter, in the presence of the other Apostles: You are Peter (which means “Rock”), and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Mt 16:18).

This Church is placed under the authority of the Apostles, who received a threefold mission from Jesus:

to teach: Go, and make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19); he who hears you, hears Me; and he who rejects you, rejects Me; and he who rejects Me, rejects Him who sent Me, says Jesus (Lk 10:16).

to govern: Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound also in Heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed also in Heaven (Mt 18:18).

to sanctify, principally by means of the Sacraments: Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Mt 28:19); do this in memory of me (Lk 22:19).

This Church is a monarchical society of which Saint Peter is the head. Jesus Christ said to this apostle alone: You are Peter (the Rock)... (Mt 16:18 – see above); I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail (...) strengthen your brethren (Lk 22:32); feed My sheep (Jn 21:17).

The prerogatives of Saint Peter and the Apostles have passed to their successors, the Pope and the Bishops, according to the words that Jesus spoke to them: Behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world (Mt 28:20).

Only the Catholic Church preserves all these characteristic elements of the Church of Christ, and in the first place, submission to the Pope, as we are going to see.

SUPPLEMENTARY PROOFS

1) The existence of the Catholic Church is a moral miracle.

The Nicene-Constantinople Creed, which is one of the principal testimonies of faith of the early Church, asserts this formula which Catholics throughout the world repeat each Sunday at Mass: “I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.” These four signs are still found today in the Roman Catholic Church, and this, after 2,000 years, constitutes a moral miracle.

One: The Catholic Church is one in its doctrine; the faithful of all nations profess the same Creed. The object of the Faith is the same for all: these are the truths proposed as such by the Magisterium (teaching office) of the Church. We can obtain an overall view of these truths by consulting the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published in 1992.

The Catholic Church is one in its government. The college of bishops (currently over 4,000 in number) draws its unity from union with the Roman Pontiff, the Pope, the Vicar of Jesus Christ. This unity contrasts with the divisions that we observe in the other Christian confessions; there are over 15 autocephalous, that is, independent, Orthodox churches, and several hundred confessions of Protestant persuasion (very divided on questions of dogma and morality).

Holy: All educated persons acknowledge the lofty holiness of Catholic morality (even those who say they are incapable of conforming to it) as regards the Commandments, counsels of perfection and the powerful means put at the disposal of all: liturgy, sacraments, religious life. The holiness is heroic in the canonized saints proclaimed as such by the Pope after very serious examination. Even in our days, many of the faithful around the world manifest heroic sanctity by accepting even martyrdom for love of Christ and fidelity to His Church. Holiness is common in a large number of priests living in celibacy, in monks and nuns observing vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and in many lay people. No other society possesses so many marks of holiness: it is a moral miracle.

Catholic: The Roman Church is Catholic, that is to say, universal; it extends throughout the world (nearly a billion faithful) and is independent of political powers, a situation that is specific to it. This combination of such unity and such incomparable universality, this Catholicity, surpasses human strength. It constitutes a moral miracle. Indeed, the more numerous and varied the members of a society are, the more difficult is its unity to achieve; now, despite deep differences in language, civilization and culture, in spite of men’s attachment to their own opinions, the Catholics of the various nations profess the same Creed. Despite diverse pressures and influences, the Roman Church maintains its hierarchical unity. That is a sign of divine intervention, which alone can produce and preserve such unity amid such great diversity. The other religions do not possess such universality joined to such unity.

Apostolic: The Catholic Church is Apostolic because it is founded on the Apostles, the witnesses chosen and sent as missionaries by Christ Himself (Mk 3:13-14; Eph 2:20); it keeps and transmits, with the help of the Holy Spirit which lives within it, the true doctrine, the good deposit of faith. The Protestant Churches and Confessions and the Anglican Church have lost the apostolic succession by ceasing to confer on bishops in a valid way the ordination which connects them with the Apostles. As for the Orthodox Churches, although they have maintained the apostolic succession, they lack the submission due to the Roman Pontiff, whose supreme authority they do not acknowledge. These Confessions possess elements of sanctification arising from that part of revealed truth which they have preserved (cf. Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 8); but they suffer from deficiencies of dogma and morality stemming from their historical break with the living Tradition. That is why we must pray that all will come to Catholic unity, so that there be but one fold and one shepherd (Jn 10:16).

The apostolicity of the Catholic Church is manifested in its missionary expansion and in the heroism of all those—priests, religious and lay people—who work to gain souls for Christ in the continents recently evangelized (Asia, Africa), without hope of any reward but the Kingdom of Heaven.

2) Physical miracles confirm that Catholicism is the true religion.

God deigns to help souls to know the truth by effecting physical miracles (sudden and inexplicable cures quite outside the framework of natural laws)—for example, in Lourdes, where each year extraordinary cures occur, medically confirmed by impartial authorities. That Religion is divine which God approves through miracles. The Catholic Church constantly proclaims that it is the guardian of the Word revealed by God (cf. Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum 12:3). If it were wrong, God, by virtue of His Wisdom and Goodness, not only would not have approved it through miracles, but also would not have allowed men to be plunged into insurmountable error. Thus it, and it alone, certainly comes from God.

REPLY TO TWO COMMON OBJECTIONS

a) Certain religions (Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.) have existed for centuries and have almost as many adherents as the Catholic Church.

Reply: These religions include, beside more or less serious errors that are always harmful to souls,—on the subject of God, morality and man’s eternal destiny—some elements of truth which partly satisfy the needs of religious consciences (especially the religions relying upon the Divine Revelation of the Old Testament). The quest for the ultimate and the religious character that are inscribed in the human soul by its Creator explain the success and the continuance of these religions. However, we should nevertheless not deceive ourselves concerning the role of Satan, who tries to lead men astray and seduce them, and succeeds only too often because of the willingness that he finds in them (the result of original sin). Religions with a less austere morality than Catholicism, which more or less come to terms with vice, are certain to make converts, especially if they are supported by the civil powers. The more or less large number of their adherents is not indicative of their truth.

We may pray that God, in His mercy and through the merits of the Passion of Jesus Christ, deign to enlighten, guide toward Him and lead to eternal salvation, men who are ignorant of the Gospel, but who, under the influence of Divine Grace, seek the truth with sincere hearts and strive to obey the divine will as it is known through their conscience.

b) There is much suffering and evil in the world. How can an infinitely good God allow it?

Reply: There is not a stroke of the Christian message which is not, in part, a reply to the question of evil. God created us to be happy and raised us to a supernatural state with the aim of making us forever participants of His infinite bliss. But the achievement of this loving plan of the Creator supposes man’s freedom; it is freely that we must love God, with the essential help of His grace. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, abusing their freedom, disobeyed God, at the instigation of Satan (Genesis, 3). They wished to be “like God,” but without God and not according to God. That was original sin, the first sin, passed on to all men by generation, which had such tragic consequences: loss of holiness and original justice, ignorance, concupiscence; sin has reigned in the world ever since, and with it its consequences: suffering, death, and all the evils that exist in the world. God, in His infinite goodness and wisdom, allowed that as part of a plan of mercy, wishing through the Incarnation and redeeming death of His Son to ransom all men and offer the eternal happiness of Heaven to all those who truly desire it. The Redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ does not abolish suffering or evil, but transforms these trials by giving men the necessary grace to overcome them, and thereby to win a resounding and final victory over Satan. The difficulties that we have in overcoming increase our merit and therefore our future glory in Heaven. From these evils, Our Lord is able to draw a greater good: For those who love God, all things work together unto good, said Saint Paul (Rom 8:28). “For Almighty God..., because He is supremely good, would never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in His works if He were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself” (Saint Augustine, Enchiridion, 11,3).

PRACTICAL CONCLUSION: WHERE ARE WE GOING?

A) What is essential? As we said above, God created us out of love, so as to make us share His divine happiness eternally. For that purpose, He gave us the precious gift of freedom, so that we may reply freely to His plan. If, then, we desire the happiness of Heaven, we shall obtain it by keeping in this world God’s Commandments, with the assistance of His grace. But if we do not desire it, we shall not have it, because God respects our freedom; and that means the eternal misfortune of Hell, the unquenchable fire, where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched (Mk 9:43, 48), of which Jesus spoke so often.

As a result of original sin, our nature tends toward evil; it is therefore necessary to make efforts to avoid Hell and save our soul. That is what is called attaining one’s Salvation.

B) When will the question of our Salvation be decided? On the day of our death, which will be followed immediately by God’s Judgment. When shall we die? We do not know: Watch, therefore, Jesus tells us (Mt 25:13). Enter by the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are who enter that way. How narrow the gate and close the way that leads to life! And few there are who find it (Mt 7:13-14). The fact that such a large number of people neglect the matter of their Eternal Salvation does not make them right.

C) How can we be saved? By faith in Jesus Christ, incorporation into His Church, receiving the Sacraments (Baptism, Eucharist, Penance, etc.) and observing the Commandments. However, because we are weak and because being faithful to Christ can go so far as to require us to give up our life, two conditions are necessary for us to be able to receive the essential grace from above:

Humility: Saint Bernard calls it “the foundation and guardian of all virtues.” Recognizing our weakness, our lowliness, our powerlessness, is the preliminary condition for receiving divine friendship and help. Jesus gave us the most sublime example by humiliating Himself even to death on the Cross.

Prayer: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you, Jesus tells us (Mt 7:7). Prayer must be humble, trusting and persevering. “Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned” (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori, quoted in The Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 2744). The Church particularly recommends recourse to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph.

Jesus Christ assures us: If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes (Mk 9:23). So let us trust in this other word of Christ: My yoke is easy and my burden is light (Mt 11: 30), and, as Saint Benedict recommends, let us “never lose hope in God’s mercy” (Rule, ch. 4).

P.S. You may request further copies of this letter.

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I Believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God, as well as an apologetics manual entitled Jesus Christ and His Church.

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