Why study at CCS?

The Centre for Catholic Studies is dedicated to spreading, in the spirit of wisdom, the understanding and love of “the truth that the Catholic faith professes” which is what we can know about God and our relationship with God by faith. It is only insofar as it is revealed by God and taught by the Catholic Church, and held therefore as a matter of faith, that we make the claim to wisdom as Catholics. Does that mean that we are only concerned with matters of faith that transcend our reason; and are not therefore concerned with the truths that we can know by the use of our natural reasoning power? No, as St. Thomas points out, there are plenty of truths of reason that come within Revelation, the whole of natural or human morality, for instance – but they are all to do with God and our relationship to God.

This is why we believe you should study at the Centre, because it is one of the few places where you will find fully expounded the truth that the Catholic faith professes. Indeed, such is the pervasiveness of academic relativism, there are few other places which even profess that what they teach is the truth.

‘Wisdom’ and truth’ are not words that are much used today in academic and educational institutions. The aims stated tend to be expressed in more non-committal terms, like “excellence in education”; and research and scholarship seem to be promoted for their own sake, as if the accumulation of factual information and acquaintance with the opinions of the learned were all that education was about. The possibility of much education ending up as learned folly does not seem to be acknowledged.

If we are too intellectually modest to aspire to true wisdom what are we forgoing? Let St. Thomas answer this:

“the pursuit of wisdom especially joins man to God in friendship. That is why it is said of wisdom that she is all infinite treasure to men, which they that use become the friends of God” (Wis. 7:14)

It is no accident that the words ‘wisdom’ and ‘truth’ should be unfashionable in a culture, such as ours, that ignores or denies God. For, as St. Thomas notes, the pursuit of wisdom and the love of God go together.

We at the Centre stress the importance of philosophy and the rational defence of the truths of faith “that reason can investigate. This is particularly critical in a climate of secularism in which God is virtually excluded from the public consciousness.

The aversion to proclaiming things as true is especially evident at the higher levels of education. One of the most urgent intellectual tasks of the present time, therefore, is the restoration of a healthy confidence in reason itself. The Centre sees the need for this even amongst those of our fellow Catholics who are tempted to succumb to the sceptical spirit of the age. This now long-prevailing spirit was succinctly summed up by G. K. Chesterton when he said:

“A man was meant to be doubtful about himself but undoubting about the truth” (Orthodoxy. c. 3)

They rather profess to provide an educated awareness of what the various experts on a particular question have to say regarding it. This is useful to determining the truth but, if delivered with an underlying sceptical philosophy, which it unfortunately tends to be, it can undermine our confidence in our ability to determine the true answer to the question. Many, if not most, of our higher educational institutions indeed end up by treating the answer to the most important questions as a “matter of opinion” only, which is to insinuate that we cannot know the truth.

But, as St. Thomas repeatedly points out, and we should not need to be reminded of it, the purpose of intellectual studies is not for us to know the opinions of others (quid homines senserint) but to know the truth about things (veritas rerum):

Furthermore, many educational institutions today provide only an accumulation of useful information towards obtaining qualifications for future gainful employment. That is not necessarily an unworthy object. But, in educational terms, it is a secondary one. We concentrate upon the true object of all education which is to grow in wisdom and understanding and the love of God, which is only to he found by coming to know the truth that the Catholic faith professes.