Wednesday, September 17, 2014


It is ironic that on the day we celebrate one of the great teachers of the Church, patron saint of catechists, Robert Francis Bellermine, we have the reading from St. Paul

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

Two mistake can be made with this reading. The first is to think that St. Paul is writing about married love. This reading which contains "love is patient..." Is used regularly at wedding, but word St. Paul uses for love is agape. It is the love all people should share, not the particular love of husband and wife.

The second mistake is to think that love is all you need. If I just love people and am nice I'm good to go. On this feast of Robert Bellermine it is worth noting that St. Paul does not say that comprehension and knowledge are bad. He says without love they are nothing. We need all of them.

We need philosophy (the love of wisdom) and theology (the study of God). Yes they will always be imperfect. St. Paul also says,

At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.

But even-though we can only know partially in this life we should seek to know as best we can.

Yes, Robert Bellermine was wrong to conflate physics and metaphysics. And there will always be those who only want to concentrate on those errors. But his hunger for knowledge, his passion for truth should be a model to us all. Of all of the organs of the human body, I believe I can safely say the brain is still the one we understand the least. But its ability to understand is one of the things that sets us apart from other forms of life.

Four centuries after St. Robert, the words of another saint, Anselm, should still be the motto of us all "fides quaerens intellectum" (faith seeking understanding). May we every loose our intellectual curiosity.