"God: Conferences delivered at Notre Dame in Paris"
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THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
But where shall we find a basis in order to found doctrine and appropriate it to ourselves? Where shall we find terms of comparison and means of verification? We shall not need to seek far. God has placed near to us the instruments destined by his Providence to lead us toward himself. He has given them to us in nature and in intelligence, in conscience and in society. This is the quadruple and unique palace which he has built for us; quadruple in the diversity of its constructions, unique in the relations which they hold to one another, and in our indivisible abode therein. As God is whole and ever present to every part of the universe, man is whole and always present to nature, to his intelligence, to his conscience, to society; he draws from them a life which constantly receives light from their reverberation, and which never leaves him in the solitary gloom of himself. Nature speaks to his intelligence, his intelligences responds to nature, both meet in his conscience, and society places the seal of experience to the revelations of all the three. Such is our life, and there all doctrine finds its verification. A doctrine contrary to nature, intelligence, conscience, or society, is a false doctrine, because it destroys our life; a doctrine in harmony with these is a true doctrine, because it strengthens and enlarges our life, and because our life, taken in its totality, is heaven and earth, matter and spirit, time and space, man and mankind, whatever comes from God and bears with it a demonstration of him and of ourselves.
It behooves me then to show you the conformity of Catholic doctrine with nature, intelligence, conscience, and society; and to draw from that comparison, unceasingly rising before you, rays of light which will lead us to the depths of the invisible and the immensity of the supernatural. This will form the last part of our conferences, and although it must necessarily employ several years, I cannot divest myself of a feeling of sadness in thinking that the day draws nearer when I must separate from you, and when I shall see no longer, save from a distance in the feebleness of remembrance, those great assemblies in which God was with us.
Nevertheless some consolation is blended with the feeling of our coming separation; the consolation of the man who reaches his end, who has finished a career, and who foresees the hour when he will be able to say with St. Paul, I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course (2 Tim iv. 7). Share with me this sadness and this joy; for our conferences belong to you as much as to me: they form a monument which has risen up from your hearts and from mine as from a single principle; and some day, if it please God to grant us the repose of old age, we shall each alike be able to say, on recalling the times which we loved: I formed part of those conferences of Notre Dame which held our youth captive under the word of God.
God: Conferences - Notre-Dame in Paris (1871)
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