top of page

Reason and Faith: Friends or Foes? [R1]

Updated: Jul 1

Narrator: The 18th topic of the A-Z of DiscipleSHIP, “R”, is about Reason and Faith. The other day, a young person told me, “I am not a Christian. I am a reason guy”.

I replied, “Me too. And I am also a religion guy.”

We both laughed.

I was not sure what answer he was expecting from me. But I was quite sure that he certainly thought that reason, however he understood it, is not compatible with faith.

When I replied in that tongue-in-cheek manner, I was simply echoing John Paul II’s opening line in his encyclical Fides et Ratio when he teaches that “faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth” [1].

The young guy wasn’t expecting that.

But why not? Why was he, and perhaps many others, surprised that faith and reason, at least according to official Catholic teaching, are friends and not foes?

And even if it is established that they are friends, why is it important for a budding Christian disciple to have at least a fundamental grasp of this topic?

What’s the “bottom line?”

Let us ponder what the Bible [2], the Church and the Saints teach us about this crucial topic.

Play on Spotify to listen to the full podcast:

Opening Prayer – John 20:24-29

“Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.”

Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “You have believed because you have seen me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Opening Song – “Good Good Father”, by Chris Tomlin

Introduction: Should I find your lack of faith disturbing?

It was in the early 2000s. I was then a rookie catechist. We read the account of Thomas and Jesus after the resurrection. And when Jesus gave the “punchline”, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe”, a student got triggered.

“I don’t think it is fair, that we who have not seen the resurrected Jesus, are still called to believe.”

“Thomas initially did not see, and was right not to have believed at first.”

“Since we have not seen. We can be in the position of Thomas, and not believe until we see too.”

My lesson about Jesus calling us “blessed” because “we have not seen him and yet believed”, got thrown out of the window.

I stumbled for an answer. I resisted doing a Darth Vader, “I find your lack of faith disturbing”.

Instead, I have been pondering my student’s question ever since.

Was Thomas’ initial lack of Faith in Jesus, actually Reasonable?

Was his demand i.e. wanting to see and touch the marks of Jesus’ crucifixion for himself, simply a reasonable need for evidence?

And is Jesus’ punchline “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” implying that it is better not to ask for evidence when it comes to matters of faith?

I hope to answer these questions in this podcast. And with this passage in mind, explore what the Church teaches about the relationship between faith and reason and also its practical dimensions for the life of Christian discipleship.

Part One: Unless I see… I will not believe – John 20:25 – Was St. Thomas acting rationally?

Opinion, Doubt, Knowledge and Belief

In a video produced by the Thomistic Institute, Fr. Dominic Legge explains that according to St. Thomas Aquinas, there are four ways to respond to any claim. You can do so through opinion, doubt, knowledge and belief.

  • If someone were to say for instance, “Look, the newspapers say that a lion escaped from a zoo and is roaming the streets”, a person can say, “Yeah it’s probably true, the newspaper probably sent a reporter to verify the news”. This is what Aquinas describes as “opinion”.

  • A person considers a claim “probably true” but is open to changing his mind in the light of new evidence. A person can also say, “The newspaper is likely exaggerating”. This is what Aquinas describes as “doubt.” It might be true, but it is probably not.

  • A person can also say, “I know it’s true, I saw the lion at the back of my house last night”. This response, Aquinas calls it “knowledge” i.e. something based on “direct first-hand experience.”

  • Finally, there is a fourth response: “I know the zookeeper and yes I believe him when he says this”. This Aquinas calls “natural belief.” Aquinas is quick to qualify that this is not the theological virtue of Faith in God. Rather, one could describe this natural belief as “faith” (i.e. in small letters), trust in the word of another person even if one does not have first-hand contact with a particular reality. This type of response i.e. natural belief, Fr. Legge explains is “eminently rational” and “we do it all the time [3].” Indeed, the Catechism of the Catholic Church echoes what Fr. Legge says when it observes that “[e]ven in human relations it is not contrary to our dignity to believe what other persons tell us about themselves and their intentions or to trust their promises (for example, when a man and a woman marry) to share a communion of life with one another” (CCC 154).

"The Triumph of Saint Thomas Aquinas" (1323) by Lippo Memmi

If Aquinas is correct, then his namesake St. Thomas the Apostle could technically be said to be acting irrationally when he negates the claim of the 10 other Apostles and the women by declaring that “[He] will not believe” unless he has had first-hand experience. It would have been more rational if Thomas were to say, “Your claim is incredible. Could you share with me how this happened?”, or even complain, “Why did Jesus appear to you but not to me?” Instead, he simply refused to trust the eyewitness testimony of people whom he knew intimately, whom he knows will not lie to him, but instead dismisses it with a demand for direct, empirical evidence.

Understanding Thomas

Nevertheless, we also ought not to be too harsh on Thomas. In a very insightful homily delivered on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2017 (when this passage would have been read as the Gospel reading), the late bible scholar Father Paul Mankowski zooms in on Thomas’ second name, “Didymus” i.e. “the twin” for a clue.

“Twins,” Fr. Mankowski suggested, “can experience loss differently, and perhaps more deeply, than the rest of us.” “When Jesus died, Thomas’s grief might have driven him to dissociate himself entirely from those places and persons he associated with Jesus.” This is a plausible explanation for why Thomas, who was inseparable from the rest of the Apostles, was absent when Jesus first appeared to them [4]. In his grief, he may have “cut himself” off from the rest of the Apostles for a while, and the rest of the Apostles, knowing him well, might have given him the space to grieve.

When he was finally ready to return to the community, the disciples then said, “We have seen the Lord” (John 20:25). You can imagine that this brought about a new cycle of grief for Thomas. He was just coming to terms with our Lord’s death. And then the disciples said something so incredible as to sound like an (to put it mildly), inappropriately timed prank.

In the Bible drama A.D the Bible Continues, Thomas was actually portrayed as being so angry that he grabbed Nathaniel by the neck and shouted at him, demanding to know why he cracked such a “sick joke” just because he was not with them. The drama series, using plausible dramatic license, subsequently portray Thomas as making his own trip to the empty tomb, and listening to Simon the Zealot reasoning with him, “How could all of us be mistaken in the same way and exactly the same time?” This time, Thomas did not argue, he just kept quiet. He seemed to be working out the logical implications of what Simon said. While he was still working out the logic in his head, Jesus appears to Thomas.

Part Two: “Put your finger here… do not be faithless but believing.” (John 20:27). Jesus seeks to satisfy our need for evidence.

While Thomas’ initial unbelief may not be rational in the strict sense, nevertheless given what he has experienced and what we may know of his personality, it is certainly understandable. Not only that, throughout the history of Christianity, Thomas’ initial unbelief and Christ’s subsequent response has been a rich source of spiritual reflection. St. Gregory the Great writes for instance that:

“It was not an accident that that disciple was not present. The Divine Mercy ordained that a doubting disciple should, by feeling in his Master the wounds of the flesh, heal in us the wounds of unbelief. The unbelief of Thomas is more profitable to our faith than the belief of the other disciples. For the touch by which he is brought to believe confirms our minds in belief, beyond all question [5].”

One of the most powerful paintings exploring the spiritual significance of the encounter between Thomas and Christ is arguably the masterpiece by Caravaggio entitled “The Incredulity of St Thomas” painted in 1602. In this scene, we see Thomas’ finger lodged into the spear wound of Jesus, with his brow furrowed in intense examination, almost as if carrying out an autopsy. The painting also shows Jesus guiding Thomas’ hand to his wound, after all, it was Jesus who had told him, “Put out your hand, and place it in my side” (John 20:27). Jesus is not depicted as passive. Rather, by guiding the hand of Thomas, Jesus demonstrates his active desire to assuage the doubts of Thomas.

And it is not as if it was only Thomas who was interested in the evidence for the Resurrection. The other two disciples, traditionally identified as Peter and John, also have the same furrowed brows and rapt expressions, as they too attempt to make sense of the evidence before them, as they encounter the sacred humanity of Jesus through Thomas’ actions. It was through Thomas’ initial unbelief that the disciples were given further evidence, confirming them in their initial belief [6].

Fr. Mankowski, commenting in 2017 on the spiritual significance of this episode observes that in this scene,

“… in His Mercy, Christ gives each of us exactly what we need. To be healed, Thomas needed to touch Christ’s wounds. Thomas also needed to know that Christ knew that he needed that. And so Christ offered Thomas something He did not offer to any of the other Apostles: He opened His hands, bared His side, and bid Thomas touch.” 

In this powerful episode, we may appreciate that not all doubt is necessarily sinful.

"The Incredulity of Saint Thomas" (1602) by Caravaggio

Not all doubt is necessarily sinful

When we pay close attention to the Gospels, we can see that Jesus had a “complicated” relationship with those who asked for evidence for his Messianic claims.

To the Pharisees and Sadducees who want to test him by asking him from a “sign from heaven” (Matt 16:1), he answered them angrily by calling them an “evil and adulterous generation” and that “no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah” (Matt 16:4). To his enemies who mocked him by daring him to come down from the cross (Matt 27:42), he refrained from doing so (imagine the pandemonium and the likely shrieks of terror that his enemies would have experienced) and responded instead with forgiveness (Luke 23:34).

Yet for Thomas, he went over and beyond what he promised i.e. that he will rise from the dead after three days (Mark 9:31) but actually granted Thomas the exact type of evidence he says he would need, so that he will doubt no longer but be “believing” (John 20:27).

In a different but nevertheless related context, the 2nd Vatican Council’s pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes also notes the complicated reasons for atheism, i.e. those who deny the existence of God. It declares that some who do so “willfully shut out God from their hearts and try to dodge religious questions” and hence “are not free of blame.” Yet some are motivated “not rarely from a violent protest against the evil in this world” or because believers who are “deficient in their religious, moral or social life”, “conceal rather than reveal the authentic face of God and religion” (Gaudium et Spes no 19).

In describing agnosticism, a position that “refrains from denying God” or “makes no judgment about God’s existence” (CCC 2127) the Catechism is careful also not to condemn such a position outright but recognises that it “can sometimes include a certain search for God” (CCC 2128). In other words, the Catechism strives to recognise the varied reasons for unbelief and suggests a need for patient witness, and sometimes even the need on the part of Christians to take personal responsibility.

Motives of credibility

We can conclude from this brief survey that the issue at hand is not so much doubt, but the reasons that accompany such doubt.

For St. Thomas, he wanted to follow Jesus to the end, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16) and was not afraid of the consequences. For such an “all or nothing” decision, he needed clarity, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). His doubt, unlike the enemies of Jesus, was not motivated by a stubborn refusal to accept the evidence, or a hardened heart based on a fixed conception of what the Messiah ought to be.

Rather, as Fr. Mankowski observes, the walls of doubt Thomas “had built around himself” was to “ward off further loss”, due to deep anguish and grief at his crucifixion. It thus “crumbled” when Jesus appeared to him and allowed him to perceive that “although suffering and loss will continue in this life, ultimately Jesus is the Lord of life and has prepared for us a heaven where there is only union and fulfillment [7].”

Echoing this nuanced approach to the phenomenon of doubt and belief, the Catechism teaches that:

“… so ‘that the submission of our faith might nevertheless be in accordance with reason, God willed that external proofs of his Revelation should be joined to the internal helps of the Holy Spirit.’ Thus the miracles of Christ and the saints, prophecies, the Church’s growth and holiness, and her fruitfulness and stability ‘are the most certain signs of divine Revelation, adapted to the intelligence of all’; they are ‘motives of credibility’… which show that the assent of faith is ‘by no means a blind impulse of the mind.’” (CCC 156)

Part Three: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:29)

In the light of what we have discussed so far, we can surely reject the interpretation that when Jesus declares, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe”, he prefers his followers to have faith without evidence [8].

Nevertheless, it remains the case that the disciples saw but we did not. How then can we speak of evidence?

In a lecture he gave shortly before becoming Pope, Joseph Ratzinger carefully analyses how “reasonable faith” can take place, given the fact that the Resurrection is an event that happened in the distant past of history and that we certainly did not meet Jesus “first hand” like the apostles [9].

Acts of faith in everyday experiences

Ratzinger starts off with an everyday experience. I.e. taking the elevator. He asks, “Which of us know how an elevator works?” Most people don’t have the specialised knowledge. They assume the engineers who constructed the elevator, know what they are doing. They make an act of faith. Their act of faith is a reasonable one because it “works”. They successfully go from the ground floor to the desired floor in the building. And they do it without knowing the mechanisms of the elevator.

All this we take for granted and practice “all the time without even noticing and which is at the basis of the life we share everyday”. Ratzinger further observes that:

“A faith of this kind is indispensable in our life. This is true for the simple reason that, if this were not the case, nothing would function anymore; each of us would have to start afresh all the time. This is also true on a deeper level, in the sense that human life becomes impossible if one can no longer trust the other and others if one cannot rely on their experience and knowledge and on what they offer us [10].”

If we were to paraphrase John 20:29 for this context, we can say that the experts use the elevator because they have “seen” how the elevator works. Nevertheless, “blessed are those who have not seen [i.e. the majority of us] and yet believe” that the elevator works.

Analogy to matters of faith

Ratzinger then asks if this threefold structure of “see-ers” i.e. the engineers, “believers” i.e. the laypeople, and “verification” i.e. the elevator actually works, is applicable when it comes to matters of faith.

Zooming in on the testimony of the woman at the well, and the response of her fellow Samaritans, Ratzinger argues that there are parallels.

The woman at the well was allowed to “see” i.e. that Jesus was the Messiah. She encountered him “first hand.” Many of the townspeople, hearing her story, but having never met Jesus, felt she made sense, and “believed in [Jesus] because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39).

Later on, they verified it in their lives when Jesus himself comes and preaches to them, and so they say “[i]t is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world (John 4:42). Ratzinger notes that “in the living encounter, faith is transformed into knowledge[11].

"Christ and the Good Samaritan at the Well" (ca. 1552) by Workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder

Part Four: The science of the Saints, an antidote to unbelief

While that was certainly true for the people during the time for Jesus, who are those permitted to “see” in our own time? Ratzinger explains that these would be the “saints”, not only those who are canonised, but also those “hidden saints” who “receive in their communion with Jesus, a ray of his splendor, a concrete and real experience of God [12].”

In other words, the path to faith passes through the “science of the saints”; “their act of seeing is the reference point of theological thinking and the guarantee of its legitimacy [13].”

One saint whose life and teaching has recently been held up as a sure guide in helping unbelievers make the path towards faith is St. Thérèse of Lisieux, a French Carmelite nun who died in 1897 at the age of twenty-four and who was declared by St. John Paul II as a doctor of the Church in 1997.

Thérèse lived in what Pope Francis has termed the “golden age” of modern atheism, the late 19th century [14]. As providence would have it, she and Friedrich Nietzsche, the infamous German philosopher who proclaimed “the death of God”, stayed at the same hotel in Paris the same year in 1887 [15].

Though they have never met or knew of each other on a personal level, this has not stopped playwrights and philosophers to speculate on what type of conversation they might have had with each other should they have met [16]. For Nietzsche, his attitude towards faith is summed up in his rebuke to his Christian sister Elizabeth, “If you want peace of soul and happiness, then believe, but if you want to be a follower of truth, then seek [17].”

The life of St. Thérèse puts Nietzsche’s claim to the test in surprising ways. In her autobiography Story of a Soul, Thérèse describes her mystical experience on Good Friday in 1896. Sick with tuberculosis, Thérèse had a mystical experience. She felt that she might be dying but that did not fill her with terror but with joy. She described her experience as follows:

“I felt something like a bubbling stream mounting to my lips. I didn’t know what it was, but I thought that perhaps I was going to die and my soul was flooded with joy…. My soul was filled with a great consolation; I was interiorly persuaded that Jesus on the anniversary of His own death, wanted to have me hear His first call. It was like a sweet and distant murmur that announced the Bridegroom’s arrival… I was enjoying such a living faith, such a clear faith, that the thought of heaven made up all my happiness [18].”

If Nietzsche were to read this, he might scoff and say that this is precisely why people believe, it’s all about the good feelings. He might however be surprised by what St. Thérèse would subsequently share. In an ironic twist, on Easter Sunday, where one might expect that a believer might be in an even more joyful disposition, St. Thérèse reports that God:

“... permitted my soul to be invaded by the thickest darkness, and that the thought of heaven, up until then so sweet to me, be no longer anything but the cause of struggle and torment. This trial was to last not a few days or a few weeks. It was not to be extinguished until the hour set by God Himself and this hour has not yet come [19].”

Thérèse would also report being tormented by a temptation to despair with thoughts telling her that she is simply:

“... dreaming about the light, about a fatherland embalmed in the sweetest perfumes; you are dreaming about the eternal possession of the Creator of all these marvels, you believe that one day you will walk out of this fog that surrounds you! Advance, advance; rejoice in death which will give you not what you hope for but a night still more profound, the night of nothingness [20].”

In the face of such darkness, Thérèse had to ask the question, “Why believe?” Her surprising answer? “Why not?” Thérèse writes:

“When I sing of the happiness of heaven and of the eternal possession of God, I feel no joy in this, for I sing simply what I WANT TO BELIEVE [21].”

She explains that her motivation is no longer the consolation of faith. Rather:

“I no longer have any great desires except that of loving to the point of dying of love [22].”

Thérèse's determination to believe, should not be understood as blind sentiment. In a letter discussing precisely this topic, Benedictine monk Dom Antoine Marie illustrates two “motives of credibility”, which served as key moments in her faith life.

As a four-year old, she was faced with what seemed to be a logical conundrum. Her sister Celine questioned her on the Holy Eucharist, “How is it that the Good Lord can be in such a small Host?” Without missing a beat, Thérèse answered, “It’s not surprising, since God is almighty. And Almighty means he can do whatever he wants [23]!”

St. Thérèse, as a four-year old, was engaging in what can be termed “negative” apologetics. She did not attempt to prove the Real Presence. Rather, her task was more modest, she pointed out that the doctrine of the Real Presence is not illogical. If there were already prior reasons to believe in God, then what is so difficult in believing that he can come in such a small host?

Her positive reasons for faith, her second motive of credibility, on the other hand was nurtured by her family members. “Mr. and Mrs. Martin were fully conscious of their role as Christian parents and, with God's help, they placed everything in the light of the Gospel.” Dom Marie shares the following anecdote:

“Enlightened by faith, Saint Thérèse lived in familiarity with the invisible world: God, the saints, and the angels were as close to her as her father, mother, and sisters. One day, when she was not yet three years old, wishing to show her mother the depth of her love, she said to her: ‘Oh! How I would like you to die, my poor little Mother!’

‘Now, Thérèse, what kind of a thought is that? You should not say such things!’

‘But it's so you will go to Heaven, since you say we have to die to go there!’

For Thérèse, Heaven is a reality. Here, in Alençon, there are Daddy, Mommy, and her sisters. In Le Mans, there is her religious aunt. In Lisieux, there are her uncle and aunt Guérin. And in Heaven, there are her four little brothers and sisters who died as babies. Why couldn't Thérèse wish Heaven for those she loved the most in this world? This is all very simple. Later, when asked, ‘How is it that you are able to think always of God?’ Thérèse answered: ‘It's not difficult; we think naturally of someone we love!’

‘Where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also’ (Mt 6:21) [24].”

Conclusion: A personal testimony of faith and reason

This podcast has explored the topic of faith and reason.

In the life of St. Thomas, we see him passing from belief to desolation and finally to belief again, illustrating perhaps for Christian disciples that a journey of testing is perhaps to be expected, as a way to grow, and also as a form of solidarity with those who have not yet received the gift of faith. He held fast to his willingness to not lose sight of the love Jesus has for him.

We have also pondered St. Therese’s motives of credibility for her strong faith, and how her life and teaching are a sure guide in helping us make the path towards faith.

Standing on the shoulders of giants, I would like to end this podcast with a personal story. It was a card I received from my Dad when I was a kid. He gave it to me and said, “Can you see Jesus?”

When I saw the card, 10-year-old me went “huh”?

“Flip over for the story lah,” my Dad quipped.

And so, I did. And this was how it went.

The story that is told about this picture is of a photographer, deeply troubled religiously, who took a picture of the melting snow with black earth showing through. When he developed it, he was amazed to see in it, the face of Christ, full of tenderness and love, and he became a Christian.

I went “wow”. And then felt frustrated, “I can’t see lah. Where is Jesus?” My Dad replied, “He is there! Can you see! That’s his beard, his eyes…”. But I couldn’t see.

My Dad then replied, “You keep this picture, one day you will!”

I went, “This is lame. I can’t see anything. And even if I can, how do you know it is Jesus?”

My Dad got annoyed, “Keep the picture also won’t die right?”

I kept it. I couldn’t see. It was 1991. I tried every day for about one year.

And I still could not see.

And decide to forget all about it.

Fast forward to 2017. I found the card again quite by accident.

I gazed at it again.

And I saw. The outline of what looked like a bearded man.

And I could not unsee this image ever again.

In the letter to the Hebrews 11:1, the Scripture describes faith as the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Elsewhere, St. Paul’s letter to the Romans say that “faith comes from what is heard” (Romans 10:17).

About 26 years ago, I could not see the image of the bearded man. But I never doubted my father was telling the truth when he said that he was indeed there. I had faith that what I heard him say was true even if I could not see. I had good reason to believe because he was my dad and he would not lie to me. And so I trusted him, i.e. a kind of “second hand” faith.

Fast forward to 2017. I could see. I now had a “personal encounter.”

And the words of the 2nd portion of the card spoke to my experience and longing.

It may take you a long time to see the face but be assured that it is there. It will suddenly become visible. It is perhaps a parable that in the perplexities and turmoil of life, one can suddenly become conscious of His presence. Once seen, however, as in the picture, He dominates the scene, and one wonders how it was possible to miss Him.

Concluding Prayer

You have said, “Seek my face.”

My heart says to you,

“Your face, Lord do I seek.”

Hide not your face from me.

Turn not your servant away in anger,

you who have been my help.

- Psalm 27:8-9

* Is there anything in this session which struck you or any thoughts, experiences or ideas which come to your mind? Please leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you.

** Thank you for joining us on the A-Z of DiscipleSHIP. We look forward to having you with us again next month, as we study the letter “S”, for Sacraments.

Recommended Closing Song

Recommended Reading / Resources

  1. Pope Francis, “The Light of Faith” (2013).

  2. Bishop Robert Barron, “What Faith Is and What it Isn’t”.

  3. Joseph Ratzinger, What Does it Mean to believe? In “Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures” (San Francisco: Ignatius Press 2006)

Reflection and Sharing Questions

This month’s podcast considers Reason and Faith and proposes that when correctly understood, both support each other in the quest to encounter God. In the light of these, the following are possible reflection/sharing questions.

  • Question 1: A child has just taken his first holy communion. He complains to his parents, “It does not look like Jesus, how can you say it is Jesus?” His parents replied, “That is because you do not have enough faith?” What do you think of the parent’s answer? Is it an adequate one? Or is there a need for greater clarity/precision?

  • Question 2: The Samaritans first believed “second hand” on the strength of the woman’s testimony. Later on, they encountered Jesus “first hand”. Do you have your own “first hand” and “second hand” faith story to share?

  • Question 3: What are some intellectual obstacles which you may have encountered when people reject Christianity? What are some possible responses?

After this podcast, is there anything that you might change in thinking and talking about faith? What would remain the same? Why?

© Presented by the Catholic Theology Network (writers / contributors / sound): Nick Chui (MTS, JPII Institute for Marriage and Family, AU), Dominic Chan (M.A., Theology, Augustine Institute), Keenan Tan (M.A., Theology, Augustine Institute), Debra Dass (Diploma in Theology, CTIS), Marcia Vanderstraaten (Diploma in Theology, CTIS); publicity & design: Chandra Nugraha; cover art: Azariah Koh Augustine


1. John Paul II, Fides et Ratio no 1.

2. Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture references are taken from the RSV 2nd CE.

4. Sr. Maria Veritas Marks, OP, “Why was Thomas Absent when the Risen Jesus Visited?”  Cited 13 Dec 2023.

5. Gregory the Great, “Forty Gospel Homilies no 26”.

7. Sr. Maria Veritas Marks, OP, “Why was Thomas Absent when the Risen Jesus Visited?”  Cited 13 Dec 2023.

8. This stereotype remains stubborn. In more recent times, biologist Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion describes faith in the following manner: “Faith (belief without evidence) is a virtue. The more your beliefs defy the evidence, the more virtuous you are. Believers who believe something unsupported and insupportable in the teeth of evidence and reason are especially highly rewarded.” Cited in Thomas Crean “A Catholic replies to Professor Dawkins” (Oxford: Family Publications, 2007) pp.146-147.

9. See his masterful lecture “What does it mean to believe” in his book Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006) pp.79-116 (“Crisis”). What follows will be selected salient ideas from this lecture.

10. Crisis, p.81.

11. Ibid p.111.

12. Ibid p.108.

13. Ibid p.109.

14. Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Ce’st la confiance 2023 no 25.

15. Daniel Cote Davis “The Theresian Hope Beyond Europe’s Strange Death”. Cited 4 Jan 2024.

16. See for example Bridget Edman, Nietzsche is my brother: A play. Therese had actually heard of Nietzsche and in her letters had called him “her little sick brother”. See Therese of Liseux Story of a Soul, Study Edition (trans John Clarke, (Washington: ICS Publications 2019) p.357.

17. Pope Francis Encyclical Letter Lumen Fidei  2013. no 2.

18. Story of a Soul, p.332.

19. Ibid p.333.

20. Ibid p.335.

21. Ibid p.336.

22. Ibid p.336.

24. Ibid.

312 views0 comments


bottom of page