Frassati Reflection: Faith Seeking Understanding

There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness
will be heard in the light,
and what you have whispered behind closed doors
will be proclaimed on the housetops.
—Luke 12:2–3

Georges_de_La_Tour_006When we encounter a teaching about the faith that we don’t understand, we often take one of two negative approaches. First, we might allow our lack of understanding to cause us to lose faith. We imagine that anything that we cannot grasp with our human understanding must not be real. This might take the form of ignoring rules that we don’t understand, or even drifting into agnosticism or atheism. A second negative approach would be clinging rigidly to Church teachings and not taking any steps to learn more about why the Church believes what it does. While we should always have faith even in the face of confusion, that doesn’t mean that we can be complacent in our misunderstandings. If something doesn’t sit right with us, then maybe we were taught incorrectly, or perhaps we missed the point of the teaching. Either way, we should seek clarity before we go out into the world and preach a misinterpreted Gospel.

The fundamental issue with both of these approaches is a lack of humility: in neither case do we ever consider that our own human understanding might be the problem.

Johann_Georg_Trautmann_(attr)_Alte_Frau_mit_Knaben_bei_Kerzenlicht

The proper approach when we don’t understand something about the faith is to first acknowledge that our human understanding is limited and that the vast mystery of God is infinite; also, because God is Truth, His teachings will resonate with our natural sense of what is good and right and logical. So if we encounter a teaching that seems wrong or difficult, then our understanding of it must be flawed. We can trust that God is good and the Church’s teachings are true, and from there we can seek to improve our understanding. Maybe we were misinformed, or maybe we heard the teaching correctly but from a perspective that was limited or misguided. By taking the time to ask questions and listen to what others have to say about the topic, we can allow the Holy Spirit to enlighten us, and over time, as we sit with these new perspectives and process the information we discover, its truth will resonate within us. We don’t need to be alarmed when we don’t understand something—it is simply a reminder that we are human, and it is an opportunity to draw closer to our Beloved.

When we reach the gates of Heaven, the Light of understanding will fully illuminate our hearts and minds. In the meantime, its rays can shine within the darkness here on earth. If our hearts are aflame with love for God, that Light will guide us on our way.

Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins?
Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God.
Even the hairs of your head have all been counted.
Do not be afraid.
You are worth more than many sparrows.
—Luke 12:6–7

You cannot imagine at all how much you interest God; He is interested in you as if there were no one else on earth.
—Julien Green


1. Georges de la Tour, Magdalena Fabius / PD-US
2. Johann Georg Trautmann, Alte Frau mit Knaben bei Kerzenlicht / PD-US


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