8.28.2010

Faith of Our Fathers

"Now," said she, "I know another cause of thy disease, one, too, of grave moment. Thou hast ceased to know thy own nature. So, then, I have made full discovery both of the causes of thy sickness and the means of restoring thy health. It is because forgetfulness of thyself hath bewildered thy mind that thou hast bewailed thee as an exile, as one stripped of the blessings that were his; it is because thou knowest not the end of existence that thou deemest abomidable and wicked men to be happy and powerful; while, because thou hast forgotten by what means the earth is governed, thou deemest that Fortune's changes ebb and flow without the restraint of a guiding hand. These are serous enough to cause not sickness only, but even death; but, thanks be to the Author of our health, the light of nature hath not yet left thee utterly."

-Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy, Book I: The Sorrows of Boethius

Philosophy admonishes Boethius for forgetting his own nature and the nature of the world as God's creation. Notice, though, that he cannot forget these things unless he is able to first know them. Boethius knows that God exists and that He governs the word, and it is his later willful ignorance of these truths which causes him to doubt both Providence and Justice. The above passage relates how the maiden Philosophy chooses to describe his loss of faith. It is not that he has doubted something for which there was never any actual evidence, rather, it is that he has chosen to ignore what he knows in the face of seemingly indominable suffering and misfortune. This is what faith truly is, that a man may hold onto the truth despite his passions and emotional reactions towards the ever changing circumstances of material existence. It is not believing in something that is absolutely contrary to what we know, and it is not blind trust in an arbitrary authority. These are modern notions which seek to define religion as a kind of irrationailty without any foundation in reason. Inasmuch as a Chrsitian implicitly accepts these definitions of faith, he is lost in a desert of the mind where knowledge cannot grow.

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