Exploring the World Around Us

St John the Evangelist by Domenico Zampieri

Archbishop Ullathorne in his book Endowments of Man explores our quest to understand the true nature of things. He states: “The just and due relations of things with God and with each other constitute their essential order. And this essential order of things is what we call their eternal law. . . . And the light which shines from this essential order into our minds, making known to us the just and due relations of things towards God and towards each other, is what we call right reason.” Defining human reason, he says: “Deeper than his errors, deeper than his opinions, deeper than his mythologies, is the light of man’s reason, an image of the eternal reason, an image of the Trinity.”

In his Second Letter on the Rambler, he comments on our attempts to understand the nature of things: “There is but one world within our reach, and we are not permitted to examine more than its rind. Its substances are not of an active but of a passive nature, moving as they are acted upon, and so, like the machine, requiring an author, sustainer, and director of their activity. Only the omnipotent Author of the earth can authentically say how it originated, how it is set in motion, what changes have been introduced into it, and when and by what successions of interventions those gigantic changes have been brought about. . . . We may conjecture on this or that hint; God alone can speak with certainty. . . . Where God has spoken, His word stands: it may be interpreted, it cannot be rejected.”

Finally, in his Observations on the Use and Abuse of the Sacred Scriptures, he reflects on life’s journey: “I am placed in a strange country, over which I have to travel before I can reach my destination. Ignorant of the way, and of the difficulties and dangers I may meet, I, naturally, procure a map of the country. Not yet feeling secure, I seek a guide. I am now assisted; but, nevertheless, I do not forego the use of my eyes, to which these are only assistants. The eyes are my reason; the Scriptures are my map; the interpretation of the Church is my guide, who, I ascertain, is duly qualified.”

Quotations from Michael F. Glancey, Characteristics From the Writings of Archbishop Ullathorne (London: Burns & Oates, 1889).

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