Not All Mystery Is Equal

Posted 2023/01/10 by Tom Fasano

I ran in to an old friend yesterday at church, who gave me a Benedictus issue for January, which basically has morning and evening prayers, the mass for the day, and a meditation from a saint or classical author. The meditation for today by Fr. John Rickaby, written in 1927, is thought provoking and not easily accessible online, so I wanted to share it here.

The revelation of Christ could not be intelligible without some manifestation of the plurality of Persons in one God. How far the Trinity was declared to the Magi we are not informed; certainly some knowledge of the mystery is indispensable for the Christian faith. The Trinity, as remaining always mysterious after revelation and not intrinsically understood, vastly differs from the unintelligibilities so widely presented today by prevalent Pantheism or Monism. For first, though beyond our intelligence, it involves no real contradictions, and, secondly, it is imposed upon us by One Who certainly knows and Who has a right to command our humble submission knows and Who has a right to command our humble submission of faith; whereas our Monists so contradict themselves - and one another - that obviously they do not know.

If the wise men from the East had been only philosophers, they would have come under St. Thomas’s sentence that not so could they have reached the Christian light (Contra Gentiles, bk. 1, chap. 4). The patent lesson of their trial and its happy result is that spiritual enlightenment is not Oriental self-contemplation nor Western rationalism. In the former system, with which the Magi may have had some acquaintance, the aim is to free the soul from the world by disclosing its nothingness, without explicit reference to God or to any Supreme Reality. But of the Christian Epiphany the whole force is to emphasize the need of divine illumination and the supreme excellence of such light to guide us to the eternal possessions of the Absolute Truth and Goodness.

While the human mind cannot comprehend mystery in the suprarational sense, we can still understand not all unintelligibility is the same. The “All is one” philosophy cannot distinguish all from one, and is a performative contradiction. That one is quite straight forward, but understanding the pitfalls of other belief systems will be a productive mental exercise to help you grow closer to the one and only true faith, free from any contradictions while still contemplatively unbridgeable.

When we have the correct phronema, a greek word roughly meaning innermost mindset, we can attain superior discernment and proper thinking (this is kind of related to Divine Illumination). For the worldly thinker, a contradiction found in scripture or dogma means nothing, as they have shut themselves off from the truth. The Christian opens his mind to the Supreme Reality of God’s light and already understands so called “contradictions” of Christianity are only contradictory in hypothetical fantasies and under faulty presuppositions. The mysteries of the Christian faith were not written down or even widely known during the times of the early Church, and yet their deep truths are slowly redeeming lost souls over 2000 years later, despite all adversity and evil.

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Christianity · Philosophy