Vatican City (AsiaNews) - " I believe in order to understand" and "to lead men back to the hope of finding the truth": Benedict XVI reiterated these phrases from Saint Augustine today, illustrating the figure of the bishop of Hippo and addressing a theme especially dear to him, the relationship between faith and reason. "These themes are not to be opposed to one another, but must always go together", in order to be able to arrive at the truth, which is a question "central for every man".
So once again, the pope reflected on Saint Augustine in his remarks to the six thousand persons present at the general audience. He is a saint whose intellectual and spiritual journey represents "a model of the relationship between faith and reason, a central theme for the equilibrium and destiny of every human being". These two dimensions "must not be separated or opposed, but rather must be harmonised": they are, in fact, "the two forces that lead us to knowledge".
The pairing of faith and reason is therefore central in Augustine's life and thought: he had learned that faith as a child and had rejected it as an adolescent, "because he did not see its reasonableness, and it was not an expression of his reason", meaning truth. "His search for the truth was so radical that he could not be satisfied with philosophies that did not arrive at God", who "is not only a cosmological hypothesis" but "a God who gives life".
Faith and reason, therefore, are not themes to be opposed to one another, but must always go together. Augustine says that they are the two forces required for understanding, as shown by the famous phrases in which he expresses "this coherent synthesis between faith and reason: 'believe in order to understand', but also and inseparably, 'understand in order to believe'", which for the pope "express with effective immediacy and with equal depth the synthesis of this problem in which the Catholic Church sees the expression of its own journey". These statements indicate that "God is not far from our reason and from our lives", "on the contrary, he is close to every human being, and he is as close to his heart as to his reason".
Photo courtesy of CPP