Friday, 23 July 2021

23 July, Antonio, Cardinal Bacci: Meditations For Each Day

Knowledge and Sanctity

1. If there had been equal progress throughout the ages in sanctity and in science, men would now be very wise and very holy.

It is a well-known fact that science has made great strides, but it must be admitted, unfortunately, that it has often forgotten its beginning and final end, which is God alone. The object of knowledge is truth, and all truth comes from God, but it dwells in created things like a reflection of divine light. We must trace this reflected light back to its original source. If students had always done this, they could have become wise as well as learned. They would have gained from their studies and research a deeper knowledge of God, the author of all the marvels in the universe, and they would have discovered how to worship and obey Him.

When science goes astray or becomes an end in itself, it ceases to be of real service and can become an instrument of evil. When the history of philosophy was described as the history of human aberrations, this was not altogether an exaggeration. Moreover, the technical and practical sciences which are flourishing in this era have often become the means of human destruction. This is what happens when science turns away from God, who is its origin.

There is a great deal of learning in the modern world, but very little holiness. As a result of their absorption in intellectual labour and scientific research, men have forgotten the most important thing in life, which is goodness.

It would seem that the intellect has stifled the impulses of the heart and the dictates of conscience. Do not let this happen in your own case. By all means, have and promote learning, but more than anything else cultivate in your soul that sanctity which will be your greatest treasure in life.

2. We have no right to speak evil of human learning and industry, which are always a gift from God. But we must recognise that goodness is more important than knowledge. The devil's intellect is superior to ours, but he has lost God and in losing God has lost everything which is good.

“Knowledge puffs up,” (1 Cor. 8:1) writes St. Paul. Pride and presumption can easily spring from a little learning, whereas the fruits of holiness are always beneficial to ourselves and to others.
Let us be humble in our scientific studies and use the results which we obtain for our own progress in sanctity.

3. Padre Cordovans has described the proper progress of the intellect in the following way.

(1) First of all, it studies the things which it knows and mysteriously enriches itself.

(2) It rises from this abundance of knowledge to a keener sense of responsibility in life, until it achieves a Christian harmony. At this stage we have faith, meditation and Christian formation.

(3) Meditation cannot afford to become enclosed within itself, but goes on to become inflamed with love until it develops into contemplation. Now we have the contemplative, who can be a monk, a scientist, or a politician.

(4) If everything goes well, the contemplative abandons his state of solitude and goes in search of souls in the manner of the Saints and of our Divine Master. Otherwise, the contemplative can become a quietist. (Breviario Spirituale, p. 129)

We should try and follow this course in our studies, whether they are sacred or profane. If we do so, we shall achieve personal sanctity and shall engage ourselves in apostolic work for others.

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