Choose a topic from Part 1:

1. Sacred Doctrine

1. Man's most urgent need is to know truths about God. Some of these truths can be known by philosophy, that is, by thinking them out. Other truths about God are made known to man by divine revelation. And indeed divine revelation is required for the proper understanding of all truths about God, even those which philosophy teaches. For without revelation man could not know quickly and accurately the naturally knowable truths about God so as to make these truths the rule and guide for his responsible life right from the start. Therefore, philosophy is not enough for man; divine revelation is required.

2. Truths about God manifested by divine revelation constitute sacred doctrine or supernatural theology. Sacred doctrine is a true science. For a science is a body of truths established with certitude, and sacred doctrine is a body of truths imparted on God's own authority, and hence established with absolute certitude.1

3. Sacred doctrine is a single science rather than a group of related sciences, for it brings all its truths into the one precise focus of what is divinely revealed.

4. Sciences are speculative or practical. A speculative science contemplates truth; it fixes on what is so. A practical science considers what is to be done in consequence of the truths it contemplates; it fixes on what to do. Sacred doctrine is both speculative and practical, but it is primarily a speculative science, for its chief effort is to teach men truths about God.

5. Under either aspect, speculative or practical, sacred doctrine is the most noble of sciences. On the speculative side, it treats of the noblest object, that is, God himself, and it affords the most nobly satisfying certitude because it speaks with God's own authority. On the practical side, sacred doctrine is the noblest of sciences because it guides man to the noblest goal - God and everlasting happiness.

6. Sacred doctrine is wisdom. Wisdom involves deep knowledge of a valuable end to be attained together with a suitable and pleasing plan for attaining it. Sacred doctrine gives man the deepest knowledge of his infinitely valuable end, and stirs and directs him to attain it.

7. The object of sacred doctrine, that is, its subject matter and also its special focus of attention, is God. All truths manifested by sacred doctrine are either truths about God or truths about creatures in reference to God.

8. The principles, that is, the basic truths, of sacred doctrine are the articles of faith. Sacred doctrine does not argue about these principles, as philosophy does, to show that they are in accord with reason; sacred doctrine presents these truths on God's authority and proceeds to draw other truths from them by study and reasoning.

9. Holy Scripture is a source of divine revelation, and hence a source of sacred doctrine. Scripture sometimes imparts a truth by figurative language, but not in such wise as to confuse us. This is right, for truth is often taught most effectively by making comparison with material and familiar things, that is, by using a figure of speech such as a simile or metaphor.

10. Sometimes scripture uses a term with an extension of meaning or a spiritual implication, as when St. Paul (Heb. 10:1) calls the Old Law a figure of the New Law. Here the term "the Old Law" receives the added meaning of a forecast or promise. It is suitable that scripture should thus manifest its richness by conveying in literally true words an abundance of implied meanings or suggestions.

"The supreme perfection of man in this life is to be so united to God that all his soul with all its faculties and powers are so gathered into the Lord God that he becomes one spirit with him, and remembers nothing except God, is aware of and recognises nothing but God, but with all his desires unified by the joy of love, he rests contentedly in the enjoyment of his Maker alone."
St Albert the Great

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"If you wish to learn and appreciate something worth while, then love to be unknown and considered as nothing. Truly to know and despise self is the best and most perfect counsel."
Thomas á Kempis

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"Before a man chooses his confessor, he ought to think well about it, and pray about it also; but when he has once chosen, he ought not to change, except for most urgent reasons, but put the utmost confidence in his director."
St Philip Neri

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