Sunday thoughts for August

By Monsignor John Devine

Many people of my age who were brought up as Catholics no longer practise. Conversations with them follow a pattern. Reaching teenage years they left their childhood faith behind – 'all that stuff'. The world view presented by Catholicism did not stand up to rational scrutiny. They view their rejection of the faith as an inevitable and commendable rite of passage.

Faith is a gift. But that statement alone does not absolve us from taking a look at how we come to adult faith. Christianity versus scientific truth is a false dichotomy. It’s 'apples and oranges'. They are not issues of the same order.

The weather forecast may provide a helpful illustration. It's a sunny day. Why? Is it because God has blessed us with sunshine or because a high-pressure weather system is coming up from Spain and France? These are not alternatives. Both explanations can be held simultaneously. Science does not trump faith, or vice versa. I can hold down a job at the CERN Large Hadron Collider and still say the rosary.

The second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews for the 19th Sunday of the Year tells us: "Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen." Even a Nobel prize-winning scientist need have no problem with that.

If faith is not the antithesis of scientific truth, what is it? There may be a clue in the Gospel reading for the same Sunday: "There is no need to be afraid little flock for it has pleased the Father to give you the Kingdom." The antithesis of faith is not 'objective' reasoning. It is fear. Our faith can embrace both scientific rigour and a childlike trust in God.