Daily Reflections
by Cathy

Feeling the Truth!

(c)Mateo Ivankovic 2017


July 12, 2018

Dear Family of Mary!

“…You, with pure and simple souls comprehend-even if sometimes you do not understand the words-and within yourselves you feel what the truth is…” (July 2, 2018)

What does Our Lady mean – “and within yourselves you feel what the truth is…”? I was puzzled at first by her words. How do we feel what the truth is? But then I remembered a phrase that was used by St. John Paul II, and by Vatican II, etc. It is “sensus fidei”. It means the “sense of the faith”, and describes exactly what Our Lady was talking about.

Our Lady said that it is the pure and simple souls who can feel what the truth is. These souls simply and purely love Jesus and listen to His words in Scripture with the heart. They pray with the heart. And so they understand Jesus with the heart. This heart understanding gives them the sense of the faith, the understanding of the truth that comes from knowing Jesus.

There is a document that describes the sensus fidei. It was written by the International Theological Commission, and is called “Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church.” It was written in 2014. I want to quote part of the introduction. I think it helps to make clear what Our Lady is talking about:

The sensus fidei as an instinct of faith
49. The sensus fidei fidelis is a sort of spiritual instinct that enables the believer to judge spontaneously whether a particular teaching or practice is or is not in conformity with the Gospel and with apostolic faith. It is intrinsically linked to the virtue of faith itself; it flows from, and is a property of, faith. It is compared to an instinct because it is not primarily the result of rational deliberation, but is rather a form of spontaneous and natural knowledge, a sort of perception (aisthesis).
50. The sensus fidei fidelis arises, first and foremost, from the connaturality that the virtue of faith establishes between the believing subject and the authentic object of faith, namely the truth of God revealed in Christ Jesus. Generally speaking, connaturality refers to a situation in which an entity A has a relationship with another entity B so intimate that A shares in the natural dispositions of B as if they were its own. Connaturality permits a particular and profound form of knowledge. For example, to the extent that one friend is united to another, he or she becomes capable of judging spontaneously what suits the other because he or she shares the very inclinations of the other and so understands by connaturality what is good or bad for the other. This is a knowledge, in other words, of a different order than objective knowledge, which proceeds by way of conceptualisation and reasoning. It is a knowledge by empathy, or a knowledge of the heart.

We see that the sensus fidei is more of a feeling or perception than it is a rational deliberation. Exactly what Our Lady meant when she said: “even if sometimes you do not understand the words…” This sense of the faithful comes rather from some other kind of knowing than intellectual discovery. It is not through verbal discourse but through a language of the heart that the simple and pure come to the truth. Why? Because through prayer and the simple reading of Scripture, they come to know Jesus as one would know his best friend. They know how Jesus thinks, what He finds important, what pleases Him. And in that knowing they come to know everything good, because Jesus is all goodness, all truth. They know Him, and so they can just intuit or feel what Jesus would do or say in a situation.

This is what the document expresses as “connaturality”. It is the knowledge that comes from being with and loving someone so much that you just know their inclinations and desires as you do your own. You just know them. And when it is Jesus we know, then we have a deep sense of what is true, because Jesus is Truth.

I love this whole idea. No wonder Our Lady has urged us to pray, pray, pray. No wonder she has called us to Adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. No wonder she has counseled us to read Holy Scripture. These are the ways that we come into a deep relationship with her Son. And once we have come to know him intimately, we will feel the truth.

This poor, confused world we live in needs to encounter the Truth now more than ever. If we follow Our Lady, we will become living signs of the Truth through our deep relationship with He who is the Truth. It is a gift we can give to others.

In Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
Cathy Nolan

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