Never has the necessity of an intellectual defense of Catholic principles been more imperative and general than in our days, when every department of human knowledge is made to yield weapons for a concerted and systematic attack on the very foundations of supernatural belief. The front of the attack has broadened, for, it is no longer confined to the scientific world, but extends to popular literature. Hence what was formerly the duty and privilege of the clergy becomes now the universal task of all educated Catholic laymen.
Every reflecting Catholic must render to himself an account of the faith that is within him. None but an enlightened faith will be proof against the crafty and villainous onslaught of modern infidelity, which is magnificently equipped for its work of destruction. Ignorance of fundamental principles is the treacherous rock on which faith has frequently been wrecked. Many a man harbours in his heart a secret distrust of his most sacred convictions, because he has never taken the trouble to examine the strong foundation on which they rest. Thus a man owes it to himself to investigate the rational grounds of his faith and to study the motives which have prompted his firm assent to revealed truth. It will give him a peaceful sense of intellectual assurance when he finds that, in adhering to revelation, he does not abdicate reason, but elicits the most sublime act of enlightened reason. The little effort devoted to such studies will be amply rewarded by a deepening of religious convictions and a greater cheerfulness of faith.
Particularly is it to be deplored that the clamorous methods of infidels so readily mislead the young, who do not realize the utter worthlessness and shallowness of their plausible objections. There is only one remedy, and that is a thorough knowledge of the intellectual basis of faith. It is most opportune to enable young men to justify their faith to themselves and to make them see that it is the infidel, and not the believer, who stands condemned by reason and common sense. Religious knowledge must keep pace with the general progress of one's education or else a weakening of the faith that seems discredited by the new information will be the inevitable result.
From a serious inquiry into the impregnable foundations of divine truth a joyous faith will spring that glories in the consciousness of its strength and falters not in the presence of difficulties brought forth by infidelity and sectarianism....
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