Credo ut intelligam – “I believe so that I may understand.” (St. Anselm of Canterbury)
Continuing with this theme of the Extreme Realist ”new world view” I received through the guidance of St. Joan of Arc by the Divine Will and through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we press forward on the March of Hope toward the Kingdom along The Trail of the Dogmatic Creed with St. Joan of Arc and St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
St. Anselm’s motto above, similarly to St. Augustine’s “Believe so that you may understand,” sums up the effect of the clear lens of Platonic Extreme Realism through which we see the Kingdom of God more distinctly and with far more definition and color than through the fuzzier Moderate Realism of Aristotle, or, worst of all, the opaque blackness of secular materialism. When we read a sign through a fuzzy, backwards lens, we know the letters exist; however, that knowledge does us little good in terms of interpreting the letters. We know enough to believe that the sign will tell us how we should proceed, but we remain confused and therefore unsteady in our steps and unsure about which direction we should walk. On the contrary, when we reverse the lens and see clearly, we understand what the letters mean and walk with confidence.
Catholic Christian Platonic Realism, as understood by St. Augustine and St. Anselm and seemingly forgotten in the modern era, reverses the fuzzy lens requiring that we know and understand before we can believe (intellect before will), such that “we believe so that we might understand” (will before intellect). Our good will clears our sight, and we then know whom to follow and which forks in the road to take. We know how we should form our intellect. It gives us an authentic point of view from which to form our intellect. “Our point of view is the eye-glass through which we peer into the night as did king Gilgamesh; it is the foundation for our actions, words, and intellectual development. Our point of view leads us to decide whose footprints we will follow” (from my book, Seek First the Kingdom – The March of Hope). With our good will, we are willing to be led into truth following the footprints of the saints, rather than demanding that we understand truth before we are willing to believe. This is why without Faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). Faith leads us to Hope. We do not think our way to Hope. We believe that we might know how to think. There, we find the theological virtue of Hope.
This is why it was important that my journey on the Trail of the Freedom Dance, as told in Journey to Christendom – The Freedom Dance (my first book), came first. The certainty of faith I received on the evening of my conversion, the Feast Day of St. Thérèse, brought me out of the Dark Forest of materialism and into the sure light of the “Son” on the trail. The certainty of Faith she gave me through her intercession and care helped me stumble along until the moment when Jesus Christ rewarded my good will and opened the gates to a panoramic view. From chapter 12 of Journey to Christendom – The Freedom Dance:
“Oh you see, dear brother,” she (St. Thérèse)
Slowed for me
“It is the very certainty that makes you
“You are free to act, others only to
“For so many in the Dark Forest
From where you came” she cried out
“Are slaves to useless arguments
“Always wondering if they are right,
Never free to dance”
“Or so often” she continued on
“They wear the chains of power
“Trying to prove, no less, to
Themselves their own thoughts”
“For they see” she finally stopped to
Look at me square
“All things in themselves, they are
Their own gods, you see”
“Lost to mortality and speculation,
But we have a certainty we trust”
That certainty that I came to trust led me by the grace of God Our Savior to the March of Hope with St. Joan of Arc.
St. Thérèse’s care over my soul and her guidance and protection on my spiritual journey “To Christendom,” (a real Universal) brought me step-by-step to the gates of the Kingdom as I stumbled and struggled to see through the backwards, fuzzy lens of Moderate Realism that held these universals in my own mind, grounded in my subjective understanding and resulting in mere opinions and trepidation. Yet, despite my doubts, opinions, and fears, St. Thérèse guided me through her own lens by the Divine Will and through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is the clear view in the Kingdom of God. On July 17, 2006, the day we celebrate St. Joan of Arc’s victorious entry into Rheims, that gate opened, and I could see a Kingdom, a Castle in the distance through St. Thérèse and St. Joan’s lenses. I knew that this Kingdom was real; it is an objective universal outside myself. I knew that this Kingdom was from all eternity in the Mind of God as an objective reality. It was Extreme. And it was Real. To put it again in the words of Seek First the Kingdom – The March of Hope:
“‘Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on God’s saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well.’
How this majestic proclamation rang through my soul! It was as if Our Lord and Our Lady wrote a personal prescription to heal my devastated heart, a heart broken into tiny pieces as the result of seeking first in my life everything other than God’s kingdom. This was the verse that imbued my heart throughout the balance of the retreat. It was my personal direction from the Virgin Mary.
‘Seek first the Kingdom of God’ was my new first philosophy and driving force. It became the foundation for a new world view. Just as I came to know during my conversion in 1984 that Jesus was truly present in the Eucharist, that Mary was the Mother of God and my Queen, and that St. Thérèse of Lisieux was my spiritual sister, I knew immediately at that retreat over twenty years later that my life would be put in order only by redirecting my priorities and all of my values in life toward the kingdom that Jesus Christ established.
I left the retreat with the sure knowledge that the answer to life’s deepest questions, the pathway to peace and happiness, and the journey of hope to the great eternity promised by God require the rejection of the world as seen through the lenses of our modern culture. Only by orienting my life to the values, philosophies, reasoning, culture, and spirit of Christ’s kingdom would I find the restoration of my life here and the hope of life resurrected hereafter.
My world view changed. I now desired heaven.”