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The Feast Day of the Little Flower and the Science of Love

October 1, 2011

I haven’t posted much lately, but this article by Matthew Hanley at the Catholic Thing struck a chord. A little message from God tying all things together.

On this feast day of the Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux, we have an article talking about the science of LOVE which states:

One of the passages in Story of a Soul, the autobiography St. Thérèse of Lisieux, whose feast day is today, that has most struck me is when she recounted coming across the words Jesus spoke to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque: “I want to make you read in the book of life, wherein is contained the science of LOVE.”

This made quite an impact on Thérèse: “The science of Love, ah, yes, this word resounds sweetly in the ear of my soul, and I desire only this science.” Her famous vocation of love was crystallizing.

Science and love don’t ordinarily seem to go together. Love we tend to associate with feeling, attraction, and passion – not exactly the stuff of science, which goes with reason, empiricism, and progress. But love as science is not an unfounded mystical metaphor or eccentricity.

The article goes on to say:

Not long before St. Thérèse’s time, the concept known as positivism, which holds that no sciences exist except those that study the phenomena of the natural world, had begun to gain traction. The great Russian philosopher Vladimir Soloviev, however, wasn’t buying it. In his 1874 book The Crisis of Western Philosophy: Against the Positivists, he dismantled the view put forth by the French philosopher Auguste Comte that humanity was entering into an era in which scientific knowledge alone is fit to replace all other forms of knowledge, such as “primitive” theological knowledge or even philosophical knowledge. These, Comte felt, were merely outdated precursors to an emerging historical phase of strictly “scientific” advance. “Order and Progress” – Comte’s motto (emblazoned on the Brazilian flag, by the way) – would simply follow.

History didn’t quite get that memo. Yet St. Thérèse perceived at age fourteen that the learnéd, despite spending their whole lives in study, would have been astonished to discover that she could understand things they, in all their “knowledge,” could not. Feats of the intellect pale in comparison with acts of the will grounded in love.

Soloviev felt the Western philosophical crisis had resulted from mistakenly elevating (not just unnecessarily pitting) one form of knowledge (reason) above another (faith). He maintained this had begun to emerge even prior to the Enlightenment, which accelerated the promise that science would solve humanity’s perennial problems. The Enlightenment also solidified the idea that science should supersede traditional moral and ethical systems, which could, after all, easily be dismissed as “unscientific.”

And what is this tying together in my life right now? I’m taking two classes at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Introduction to Spirituality and Ancient and Medieval Philosophy. These classes are very eye-opening for me. Hanley’s article further states:

Shortly before her death at Auschwitz, Edith Stein wrote a detailed philosophical study of the thought of fellow Carmelite St. John of the Cross, entitled The Science of the Cross, which is the pinnacle of all wisdom. In it, she equated what she called the “science of the saints” with “the truths of the faith” (which never contradict science or reason).

Truths of the Faith never contradict science or reason. At this point in my philosophy class we’re still on the ancient Greek philosophers. They had an endless wonder of why things are. Yes, they didn’t know Christ or our heavenly Father, but yet they wondered about Him and His creation. They had the wonder of little children. They could see so much about human nature by developing this wonder. Then we take this wonder a step further into the Christian world and we wonder about God directly and how His Love can save the world, one soul at a time. The enlightened think that all of our problems can be cured by large-scale science and programs. It really begins in the heart of each individual. Wonder and awe and love  for our God, and love for our fellow-man. It’s the science of Love that will save you and the world.

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