The Longing for God and the Phenomenon of Unbelief

Authored by Dr. Gerard O'Shea in Issue #2.2 of The Catechetical Review

“Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!” (The Hound of Heaven, Francis Thompson)

Christian history is awash with the affirmation that human beings have been created to desire God, like the beautiful “cor inquietum” of St. Augustine: “You have made us for yourself O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Since the sixteenth century, however, many academic philosophers have disputed this and have claimed that there is no evidence that human beings are “made for God.” I have no intention of entering into this controversy. Instead, I would like to draw attention to the insights of the saints and the teaching of the Church through the centuries. St. Thomas Aquinas expressed the same thought when he wrote, “Wherefore God alone can satisfy the will of man, according to the words of Ps 102… Therefore God alone constitutes man’s happiness;” and St. Francis de Sales wrote, “Thou hast made me, O Lord, for Thyself, to the end that I may eternally enjoy the immensity of Thy glory.” St. Alphonsus Ligouri had the same idea and worded it thus: “Eternal salvation… is the one and sovereign good of man, seeing that it is the one end for which he was created.” In our own time, the Catechism insists: “The desire for God is written in the human heart because man is created by God and for God… Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for.” We can therefore rely on this desire to draw our students to God. My experience also tells me we can. Before I say how, I need to offer some caveats: first, it is God, who draws his children to himself at his appointed time; second, the individual human being is always free to reject God’s invitation; moreover, the relationship between God and the individual soul can never be reduced to an automated mechanical response: love can only be love if it is freely given and freely accepted.

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!


This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting editor@catechetics.com

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

Editor's Reflections: Adult Faith Formation and Culture Change
By Dr. James Pauley
Free This year marks the twentieth anniversary of one of the most important publications the U.S. Bishops have ever written: Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us . The ideals and principles expressed in this document are deeply convicting and can be summed up with these stirring words: “adult faith formation is essential to who we are and what we do as... Read more
From the Shepherds: Catechesis in the Light of the Papal Magisterium of Pope Francis Evangelii gaudium - An Access to the Church’s Mission
By Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst
Free Looking back on the past and on the development of the church since the Second Vatican Council, there are two well-known and profound documents, which have brought the biblical call for evangelization into our pastoral consciousness: Evangelii nuntiandi in 1974 and Evangelii gaudium in 2013. Both apostolic letters have reflected on the manner in... Read more
Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us: A Reflection on Discipleship
By Peter J. Murphy
Do you feel the Holy Spirit working? Do you sense that deeper calling, that desire for renewal, that burning within your heart? Yes, it is the same burning that the disciples on the road to Emmaus felt as their Lord and Savior journeyed with them. Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us was written twenty years ago as a prophetic and challenging... Read more

Pages

Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now