Catechism of the Catholic Church (36):
"Our holy mother, the Church, holds and teaches that God…can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason." Without this capacity, man would not be able to welcome God's revelation. Man has this capacity because he is created "in the image of God (Gen. 1:27)."
Referring to the Vatican I document, Dei Filius, and the Vatican II document, Dei Verbum, the Catechism here speaks to the ability of man to know God by way of human reason. We must understand that God has manifested Himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ, and subsequently Jesus Christ manifests Himself to the world through the Holy Spirit by means of His Body, the Church. Consequently, we should be able to know the Church by human reason, but alas, due to what the Catechism calls "historical conditions (37)" we find ourselves beset by many difficulties that preclude many from understanding by reason alone. Citing Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis, the Catechism explains,
For the truths that concern the relations between God and man wholly transcend the visible order of things, and, if they are translated into human action and influence it, they call for self-surrender and abnegation. The human mind, in its turn, is hampered in the attaining of such truths, not only by the impact of the senses and the imagination, but also by disordered appetites which are the consequence of original sin. So, it happens that men in such matters easily persuade themselves that what they would not like to be true is false or at least questionable.
Our difficulty in understanding fully the relationship between God and man, particularly in the context of the Church through which God directly communicates His means of grace to His people, should give us pause to ponder how we can know this truth. The answer to this dilemma is our "self-surrender" to the outward confirmation of perceived truth, and the "abnegation" of our pride in thinking we are the arbiters of truth. Any truth concerning God and His Church must be determined by both an inward understanding of the proposition and its outward confirmation. This outward confirmation must come from the Church. No individual can claim a "truth" regarding the Church if the Church herself denies this "truth." In short, one cannot have a "salad-bar" Catholicism, e.g., "I'll take this because I like it, but I won't take that because I don't…"
May the Most Holy Trinity bless and keep you,
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