"God: Conferences delivered at Notre Dame in Paris"
(series begins here)
THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
The Church and the country thank you together for the example you have given to us in these days of great and memorable emotion (The Revolution of 1848). You have called us into this cathedral on the morrow of a revolution in which all seemed to have been lost; we have responded to your call; we are here peaceably assembled under these antique vaults; we learn from them to fear nothing either for religion or for country; both render thanks to you for having believed in this indissoluble alliance, and for having discerned in passing things those which remain firm and become strengthened even by the changeableness of events.
Doctrine is the science of destinies. We live, but why do we live? We live, but how do we live? We, and all that is passing around us, move by a motion that never ceases. The heavens move onwards, the earth is born along, the waves follow each other on the old shores of the sea; the plant springs up, the tree waxes great, the dust drifts along, and the mind of man, yet more restless than all else in nature, knows no repose. Whence and why is this? All motion supposes a starting-point, a term to which it tends, and a road by which it passes. What is then our starting-point? What our end? What our road? Doctrines must answer us: doctrine must show us our beginning, our end, our means; and, with them, the secret of our destinies. All science does not reach so far. The lower sciences teach us the law of particular movements; they tell us how bodies attract and repel each other; what orbit they describe in the undefined spaces of the universe; how they become decomposed and reconstituted, and numberless secrets of that restless and unremitting life which they lead in the fertile bosom of nature: but they do not make known to us the general law of motion, the first principle of things, their final end, their common means. This is the privilege of doctrine, a privilege as far above all the sciences as the universal is above the individual.
Now of these three terms which comprise the system of destinies, the one which doctrine should first reveal to us is doubtless the principle of things; for it is easy to conceive that upon the principle depends the end, that from the end and the principle proceeds the means. The principle of beings evidently includes the reason of the end assigned to them, as their principle and their end determine the means by which they are to attain and fulfill their vocation.
I ask then this supreme question, I ask it with you and with all time: what is the principle of things? Catholic doctrine answers us in these three first words of its creed: CREDO IN DEUM PATREM OMNIPOTENTEM – I believe in God, the Father Almighty.
God: Conferences - Notre-Dame in Paris (1871)
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