Throughout the ages, scholars and theologians have debated the place of faith in the rational man’s mind. Why, some say, would one ever put faith before reason? Can reason alone not provide us with everything we need to make informed decisions about our actions and the world around us?
Well, I hereby announce that after hundreds (perhaps thousands) of years of debate, the question can finally be put to rest. Should the intelligent man set silly concepts like faith aside and rely on sound reason alone to guide his life? No. Not unless he wants to look like a total fool, anyway. And here is my witness to this profound truth:
The Vigil Mass this weekend was absolutely beautiful. It was one of those days where you could just feel the Holy Spirit all throughout the service. I actually did a fair job of keeping my mind from wandering (no small feat!), and remained prayerful for the majority of the time. Afterwards I felt particularly peaceful and in tune with God.
Out in the narthex I ran into a man who’s very involved in the parish whose dedication to doing God’s work I’ve always admired. I’ll call him “Paul” (not his real name — you’ll see why I’m not using his real name later, when this nice story derails into a train wreck of a “Jen moment”). Anyway, he’s one of those people who just radiates the love and peace of Christ. As we chit-chatted it came out that another lady whom I’ve often admired, a nun who visits our parish occasionally, is actually his sister. And he has a brother who’s a much-admired priest. When Paul told me all this I joked, “I don’t want to talk to you anymore! The person I need to be talking to is your mother — I want to know her secret!”
With a warm smile and a laugh he motioned to a group of ladies by the exit, saying that his mother is actually here today. She was seated on a little bench, smiling at someone’s baby, and had a lovely, peaceful beauty about her.
After we were done chatting my husband and I headed out to the car. The exit we were planning to use would take us right past the group of women. Feeling all warm and fuzzy from such a nice day at Mass, I decided that I should stop and tell his mother how much I admired her.
Yet, something seemed to be holding me back — and not just my introverted nature. Something else seemed to be guiding me away from talking to her. It really felt like the Holy Spirit…but yet, that wouldn’t make any sense. What reason could there possibly be for not spreading good cheer? My intellect told me that everyone likes to receive a compliment, and nothing bad could possibly come of brightening a nice old lady’s day by telling her how much I admired her son Paul and his siblings. I must set any erroneous perceptions of “guidance” from the “Holy Spirit” aside and do as my good reason dictates!
But, alas, I was feeling all prayerful and decided to just go straight to my car, on the off chance that that’s what the Holy Spirit was leading me to do. I was grumbling to myself that I was probably just being unreasonable and superstitious as I walked past the ladies. My thoughts were sharply interrupted, however, when I took a closer look and heard some snippets of conversation that indicated that the woman whom I had identified as Paul’s mother was not actually his mother. She was his wife.
And there you have it. I believe that the whole faith vs. reason debate is now settled once and for all.
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