Catholic Apologetics



"Lord, I believe!"

The Son of God has appeared among us at some point of time to help us become a perfect image of God, by preaching the truth and by giving us his grace.
Without the Revelation He brought us and the sanctification that made us become greater than ourselves, we would still be the same chanceless seekers of truth and happiness as when we had only our own weak natural reason and human iniative to try and praise the Creator and perfect ourselves.
The God-Man answered our essential needs, which made us ask for enlightenment and strength, by giving us the light of faith and the force of grace in an inconceivable way.
He calls all of us to participate in a divine life of knowledge and happiness as much as possible.
For He asked us to rely on His word, and gave us the forces we need to reach the divine ideal which the God-Man showed us with His life on earth.

The doctrine Jesus brought us is not natural but supernatural. And with his redeeming death, He interferes in our lives to justify us.
There's no reason to suppose the Revelation of Jesus in Gospel and Tradition can itself convince us of its truth and possibilities.
Fides non apparentium - faith is not about the obvious. The creed of the faithful is about the things he doesn't see.
The divine truths are to great and too far beyond the limits of nature to be fully discovered by human reason, if reason could only rely on itself to find new horizonts and panoramas.
Of course, God's revealed truth does admit some insight, because otherwise we couldn't speak of a revelation, and we could never absorb any revelation if we should know nothing about its context. But we can't see through the Revelation, because of its divine nature, full of mysteries and secrets.

The faithful can't show to himself or others his faith is reasonable by saying his creed is understandable, because man's natural intellect can't understand this creed.
Natural insight in a truth is a gift of God we can rely on, since we received our abilities as a natural and personal gift from God when we were born. But faith is a gift of God we can't rely on, because we have no natural right to see through divine secrets.
Things God can perfectly understand may be obscure to man.
Indeed, God understands all truths, even the most elevated ones. But man can only sufficiently see the nature of things close to himself, so things with a contingent existence and a relative essence.
Faith is only possible beyond the limits of natural reason. Faith isn't evident, and man can't deduce the truth of its object from the fact it's evident to God.

Nor can we prove the truth of Revelation with natural reasoning.
Its seems simple, doesn't it?
Philosophy shows God exists and is the Beginning and the End of everything. He created mankind to make man glorify God and perfect himself.
And from history we know God came to the rescue of man by sending his eternal Son. This Son, being the way and the truth and the life, broadened our outlook and taught us the only correct way to meet with our obligations to God. He brought us the true religion and gave us the means to be like God as much as possible.
It's clear we have to be attached to the Son of God, who is truth itself and can't lie nor deceive. We have to confess his truth. And we have to serve him according to his norms for religion.

We fully respect the word of Saint Paul who called the religion that Christ brought to us a 'reasonable worship'. And we appreciate the apologetic work of those many fathers and writers of the Church who supported Christian doctrine with natural arguments.
And it's true that no religious a priori and no philosophical or historical doubt can undo the value of systematical apologetics.
The apologist has to fulfil his apostolical vocation.
But if apologetics wants to prove more than the natural credibility of Revelation, which makes faith reasonable, it overshoots the mark.
Since it can't give natural insight in the transcendental and supernatural reality of things purely divine, it can't ever actually make people accept faith. In spite of all philosophical and historical certainties, the nature of the object of faith remains mysterious. Indeed, apart from many practical difficulties that natural reason must meet in its search into the credibility of revealed truth, via speculative thinking and studying a long past history, there's still the problem that this revealed truth isn't evident.
Faith is not a natural consequence of its philosophical and historical defence.
Faith is beyond the things reason can attain to, because natural reason can't demonstrate nor reveal the object of faith.
Although we know by natural reasoning it's God who is communicating the truth to us, we still have to face the fact that this truth remains hidden to us.
But although we recognize the problem, it's still there, and we can't solve it on the authority of somebody else. In fact, if we accept the faith, our intellect surrenders to supernatural truth.
Our intellect doesn't surrender because of natural insight, which doesn't exist, but because of a motive that's supernatural like faith itself.
We can only find this motive in God: not God whom we know from nature as the Creator, but God who comes to meet our weak natural intellect by communicating his Essence and giving more light and certainty than we can reasonably expect.
Faith is supernatural by its origins, its contents and its motives, which man can't force to appear in his little natural domain, since they are things only God can decide upon.
We can neither earn nor independently grow faith as a virtue and an act. It's a free gift of love with which God makes human mind accessible to the highest truths and gives it a certainty that the restrictions of natural insight and fallible human reason don't detract from.
To the question how the faithful attain to a sure knowledge of truths they only see 'as if they were reflected by enigmatic mirrors', we can only give one answer: "in and by faith itself".
The faithful person renders his mind to truths he doesn't see, because God's truth attracts him miris and occultis modis - in miraculous and mysterious ways - and makes his mind see the supernatural things in a light that's otherwise too bright and permeating.
The faithful don't deny natural things may influence his faith, too, because God does respect the laws of nature, even though He wants to bind people with the sweet ties of grace.
However, it's not the authority of parents, priests and other educators nor the impressive acts of prophets and wonderworkers that make the faithful say his unconditional creed. It's the voice of God's Spirit that calls him and makes him yield to the truths historical Revelation shows to him.
There's some reason to say there's an irrational element in faith.
But this irrational element has nothing to do with the enigmatic 'certainty of feeling' so many non-Catholic Christians think they can refer to when they have to account for their religious convictions.
The irrational element of faith is the essential impossibility to reason about it. The cause of this impossibility is not we can't ever know the revealed things - because of course the things of God are clear in themselves -, but that our minds have natural limitations. That's why human reason needs God's help to find its way in sure faith.
The certainty of faith is greater than any natural certainty.
It hasn't been brought about by some troublesome voyage of discovery of the fallible human reason, but is fixed in the infallible certainty with which God knows himself.
God know himself completely.
The blessed in heaven have the privilege they can participate forever in the perfect and certain knowledge of God.
But the faithful viator - the mortal human being -, who's still on his way to the immediate contemplation of God's Essence, has a privilege, too: that God's spirit teaches him and makes him live and guides him through the labyrinth of imperfect images and words that aren't completely understood.

{{Whereas the Catholic concept of faith emphasizes the intellect, which has to accept the truths God revealed, the Reformation says the faith is only complete when it relies on God's good will and on the fulfilment of Christ's promise of salvation, and thus raises the unreal historical faith to the level of the true sanctifying faith.
Luther already repeatedly said sanctifying faith is quite distinct from the intellectual acceptance of evangelical truth. He thinks it's "ein göttliches Werk in uns, das uns wandelt und neu gebiert aus Gott" - a work of God in us, which transforms us into a new person. Since true faith gives us not only God's truth, but also the grace of salvation, it enlightens our minds, strengthens our hearts, and makes us glad: "solche Zuversicht und Erkenntnis göttlicher Gnade macht fröhlich, trotzig und lustig" - when we recognize God's grace and are confident about it, this makes us happy and proud."
From the beginning, Calvin fought against the scholastic theologians, because he thinks they consider faith only intellectual knowledge "and don't reckon with the confidence and the certainty living in the hearts."
Ever since, Protestant theologians always emphasized the heart, which they consider the center of religious feeling and experience rather than a place of knowledge and insight. The Heidelberg Catechism answers "What is true faith?" as follows: "True faith is a sure knowledge whereby I accept as true all that God has revealed to us in his Word. At the same time it is a firm confidence, which the holy Spirit brings about in me through the Gospel, that not only to others, but also to me, God has granted forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness, and salvation, out of mere grace, only for the sake of Christ's merits."
In faith, the entire person has to render himself to the living Christ, as He comes to us from the Gospel. Rather than to receive God's truth we have to meet God's reality that captivates us. So faith can't be an object of the intellect alone, but has to be an object of the heart as well. JJ van Toorenbergen says the important thing is to have cordial confidence.

The Catholic doesn't think the Protestant concept of faith is very plausible. He doesn't deny it has a certain attractiveness, which is strange to the Catholic concept of faith, but he thinks it's too nice to be true. Although Protestants say, referring to the Scripture, the Catholic concept is false, they can't convince anybody, referring to the same Scripture, that the Protestant concept is true.
In the Scripture there's no text that represents faith as a knowledge and experience that does entirely convince people of his salvation, nor says any text that faith is an instrument that is the direct cause of his justification.
Protestants like to refer to Hebrews 11-1, where it says faith is a firm base for hope. However, this text says confidence is as distinct from faith as a building from its base. When the sacred writers speak of 'believing with the heart', the context shows they mean 'surrendering ourselves to the data of faith', as opposed to 'confess our faith by word of mouth, without enthusiasm and inner conviction'. And when Abraham is confident the promises of God will come true, this doesn't mean his heart is confident but his mind is.
In their Lehrbuch der Dogmatik, Pohle and Gierens say: in Romans 4-3 faith or belief doesn't mean 'confidence in justification', but 'believing the promise will come true that Abraham will become the ancestor of many nations'. 'Fiducia' means confidence in the power of Christ to do miracles, not faith as the condition and cause of entrance in the kingdom of God.
The Catholic theologians, following Saint Thomas Aquinas, are convinced the Scripture and the Tradition support their doctrine that faith is in the intellect and that a virtue of the intellect makes us agree with the supernatural truths and enter in eternal life.
We can't deny that the holy Scripture says faith is a necessary condition for justification. But faith alone isn't sufficient, because baptism, hope, love and good works are necessary too.
What the Protestants call 'faith' is more than faith alone. It's not only the base of the things hoped for, but the base and the hope and the confidence together: it's "Anfang, Mitte und Ende zugleich". However, neither Saint Paul nor the Evangelists know such a faith. What they do know is that faith is the assumption the revealed truths are true because God says so. The object of their belief is not personal justification, which should force itself upon us through an immediate perception and convince both the will and the mind, but the doctrine of the Gospel, which enlightens the intellect about God's plans.
Therefore the Council of Trent decided faith is the beginning of our happiness and the base of our justification. This means the supernatural act and virtue of faith, which acknowledges on the authority of the Revelation and with the help of the holy Spirit that God is our final object, is the base of full Christian life. In this life respect for the Lord, hope, love and repentance are important, too. These virtues are natural companions of faith, because they spring from it and flourish by it. Without love, faith is sterile, lifeless and weak, but it still is faith, although it can't justify us. If love inspires faith, it's really alive and justifying. This remains true if by circumstances we can't receive the sacrament of baptism.}}

Catholic faith

Other Christian denominations hold that Catholicism values human intellect too much and forgets God's Revelation is beyond it.
They say Catholics underestimate the holy Scripture and overestimate the philosophy of Aristotle, whose pagan doctrines Saint Thomas Aquinas integrated in Catholic thinking without many corrections.
They believe Catholics developed a theology that begins with the natural proofs for the existence of God and ends with detailed analysis of what we can and must do. They think this theology has no other purpose than to rationally explain what the transcendental influence of God's Spirit means for our lives.
Saying we Catholics overestimate the intellect and violate the real Christ is a grave reproach.
We also have to defend ourselves against the accusation we have delivered ourselves to superstition with numerous mystical and unbiblical practices.
There was a time when Dutch leaders of the Reformation arrogantly despised stupid papacy that lacked real faith and tried to compensate this with superstitious abuses.

{{We can't deny the relations between Catholics and Protestants have improved. However, classical antipapism is still alive in our fatherland. Many a desperate clergyman clings to the old delusion that Catholicism has no value for our country.
Not only a few clergymen from some liberal reformed communities, or some selfconfident Christian reformed with a grudge against 'superstitious' Rome, but also common Dutch reformed people hate Rome. They are convinced Calvinism is the only just religion in the Netherlands and can only flourish on the ruins of the old motherchurch.
Did they learn nothing? Or do they intentionally fail to appreciate the truth?
All sensible people understand the old lampoon "Catholics, wake up!" is stupid, and it has often been disproved, but many clergymen think they have to force it upon friends and enemies.
Although our bishops gained the respect of most fellow countrymen with their clear instructions during the war, some orthodox antipapists despised in public the alleged cooperation with the enemy. Catholics can't respect such tactics.
Apart from individual acts against Rome, there is the Evangelical Society, which plans 'to fight Ultramontanism as the enemy of our religious and political freedom'. After battering the gates of Rome during almost a century, but in vain, they still think they may have success; they continue under the direction of reformed clergymen like JF Beerens, HH Dorgelo and J Eikema. However, Catholics don't need to worry about it. The booklets of the Evangelical Society can't do any harm, since sensible people can easily see through them.}}

Fortunately, the Voetians, who preferred to despise weakness when they should have prayed for the weak, are few nowadays. And Dordt reduced despising 'superstitious Rome'. Catholics rejoice in this milder and more Christian attitude. They are glad the Protestants acknowledge the strength of Scholastic theology in Catholic life, although they oppose intellectualism.
But how should a Catholic answer their loving admonitions, which still are accusations? Does he have to capitulate and admit he is reasoning about his faith and at the same time resorting to unreasonable superstition?
It's not enough to say the Protestant doesn't have a right to speak, because he criticises the Scripture and doesn't accept the logical interpretation of Jesus' words - like when He says the bread is his Body or Peter is the rock whereon He is building his Church. As for the alleged 'superstition', it's not enough, either, to say we'd better expect too much from God than too little.
The Protestant would answer his interpretation of the Scripture is the right one, because he minds the spirit of the Scripture more than its separate words or sentences. And he would say he does trust God's power so much he can't appreciate man's powers in comparison.
Moreover, it's easy to fight an adversary with his own weapons, but this doesn't directly support the own standpoint. Our Protestant fellow Christians expect more from us than clever acts to silence them. They have a right to ask we defend our faith and life by referring to the Revelation in the Gospel.

The questions of them who promote free research of the Revelation are quite understandable. For Christianity is most paradoxical in Catholicism, because its theology wants to make a synthesis of natural knowledge and revealed mystery and may be called intellectualistic or scholastic. And Catholicism thinks its theology justifies Catholic practices which other Christians call superstitious.
Catholic theology has to explain its scholastical reflections and suspicious practices. When Protestants say Catholic theology is reasoning too much about faith and thus deducing strange conclusions, it's surprising for them that Catholic theology admits it's based on principles that are not evident at all.
Nevertheless this theology is honest and true, although no theology can be fully deduced from natural knowledge.
For sacred theology is about things divine and mysterious and isn't based on human knowledge, but on God's knowledge. But it is also a science, so it has to accomplish its scientific task. It gives reason the opportunity to bring hidden truths to the light by analysis and deduction in accordance with logic. It's a system of conclusions from logical proofs, so it's a science like, for instance, philosophy.
However, logic alone can't justify theology.
The value of theological speculation depends on its starting-points. If these starting-points aren't certain, the logical constructions are unsettled, too, may the logic be ever so sharp-witted.
The starting-points of Catholic theology are the mysterious principles Jesus revealed, which, again, aren't evident. This distinguishes theology from the other sciences. Although human reason is active in it, it still is a revealed science.
The other sciences are only possible because God made people conscious of nature. But what seems to be the weakness of theology, is in fact its strength. For who can be more certain than God who knows his own Essence, or Jesus who knows God's nature? In the end, it's not the theologian who decides Christian faith is reasonable, but Christ, speaking in history.

What about the alleged superstitious practices in the Catholic Church? Can logic deduce them from Revelation?
We may admit Catholics present themselves to non-Catholics in a way that seems less spontaneous than an expression of personal contact with the Spirit. However, outsiders judge Catholicism too much by its exterior appearance. And they often ascribe to Catholicism characteristics it doesn't have at all. It's striking how Protestants use to explain their objections against superstitious Catholicism with examples that don't apply to Catholicism.
Even the well-known preacher Herman Bavinck, who must have been conscious of his responsibility, thinks he has to accuse Rome of superstitious practices like, say, adoring virgin Mary, worshipping the Saints, wearing mascots (sic), believing in mystical appearances, and giving attention to the deceptions of Leo Taxil.
Such accusations may speak to people who don't understand Catholicism and think adult shouldn't give attention to 'puppet shows', but they are not fair. Honest adversaries of Catholicism should ask themselves whether alleged Catholic abuses apply to Catholicism. They should ask Catholics what their manifestations really mean to express. They should think it possible Catholic life is more than counting beads and bearing flags.

We can't believe the orthodox Protestant can ever appreciate Catholic visible cult, unless he change his religious attitude completely. Nor does the Catholic demand this.
We do demand a more thoughtful and honest judgment, because our standpoint might be stronger than the Protestant observer can see from his standpoint.
Orthodox Protestants are exaggerating when they say the help of measurable and tangible things like rosaries must kill the spontaneous devotion of praying people.
Catholics are convinced the lower things of creation are intended to perfect the higher things and the visible things are meant to help them deliver themselves to God. Protestants will always attack this conviction by referring to their personal faith, because they hate natural reason and the authority of the pope in questions of faith and grace.

But now we have a new question.
Does the Catholic really render himself to God's Revelation? Does Catholicism prefer the Church, whereas Protestantism prefers the Gospel?
Protestants think they can show Catholicism is man's work by posing this question, which sums up all their objections against Catholic religion.
Indeed, how will Catholics answer the reproach they surrender to the strict authority of the Church and subject God's word of Revelation to human control? Because Rome says what Catholics have to believe. So Rome makes itself the foundation of the faith, whereas Christ should be the foundation.
Catholics confronted with this most important complaint of the Reformation again and again realize answering it is almost hopeless. Although we have enough arguments to free ourselves from it, the misunderstanding and the literature it generated are so persistent they will probably survive as long as there are Protestants.
Nevertheless, we Catholics are right. We have more respect for the Gospel than many think. Our deep respect for the Revelation makes we listen with love and obedience to the Church when it explains the Gospel.
We think it's odd to suppose the words of Jesus could contradict each other. Indeed, truth is one and undivided. The truth Jesus brought is God's truth and therefore the base of unity.
We mistrust God and his power if we say the eternal Word can't reveal itself to the world without being misunderstood even by its truest followers.
Furthermore, it's impossible to explain the Gospel in distinct ways. There's only one Word, and the holy Spirit can't contradict himself.
The true sense of Revelation in the Bible has to be explained by an institute God himself called to life, because people apparently explain it in contradictory ways.

Protestants say the Spirit of God illuminates the mind of humble people of good will when reading the Bible, but Catholics can't believe this.
We admit human reasoning and the power of the Church can't make us believe, since only the Spirit of God can, but to make sure we own the correct interpretation of the Bible we need more than a reference to the Spirit, because the history of schism in Christendom shows we can't trust this reference.
We Catholics are convinced, because of Jesus' words, it's not the individual faithful but the Church, as servant of the truth, who explains the Revelation under guidance of the holy Spirit.

The Catholic thinks his creed is more than something personal that happens to resemble the creed of his fellow Christians. Protestants think two creeds resemble each other because the two faithful are both elected by God, who primarily takes care of individuals, giving form and essence to the Church by assembling some of these individuals. So, for them, the Church is only the assembly of the true faithful of Christ.
The Catholic isn't satisfied with such a minimal valuation of the Church as an institute.
The resemblance of the creeds is important to the Catholic, too: it gives him his position in a circle of his own, and the own religious atmosphere broadens and strengthens his life. But this is not the essence nor the characteristic of the relation between his personal creed and the creed of the Church. This relation is deeper and more intimate, more than a resemblance alone. Between the faithful and the Church there are relations of ordination, of rights and duties, that can only be explained by the fact the Church is the spiritual Mother of all, and that explain in turn why the creeds resemble each other.
The Church is the necessary condition for the religious life of the individual faithful. Within the one and undivided community of the Church, the individual has still a right to exist, but not to exist without connections, as if he could create a creed and spiritual atmosphere of his own. Here the (impressive) number of faithful is not important, because "Where two or three are together in my name, I am with them".
But the creed is not personal in the literal sense of the word. And the Church is more than the sum of the individuals. The Church is the Mother of the faith of the individual, so the faithful is her child, born from her womb, and drinking the milk of her grace. The faithful don't make the Church, but the Church breeds the faithful.
Of course, God alone can give the faith, but God does this through the Church. Who says God alone can give the faith, is right, but who says God can only give the faith immediately, fails to recognize God's omnipotence, and to distinguish between the order of salvation and the common distribution of grace.
For the Catholic, the question is not whether he is a child of God or a child of the Church, nor whether he has to obey God more than the Church. Here he doesn't see any dilemma. He only has to choose between obeying God through the Church and not obeying God.
Catholics consider the vocation to the faith an expression of God's will to save all. As Adam's sin brought curse to mankind, so Christ, the new Adam, brought blessing to mankind, and through mankind to the individual faithful. Whereever individuals answer God's call, it's the Church that gives them the grace of faith. The individuals only believe in so far as they participate in the faith of the Church. The Church is God's instrument of grace, and hence the Mother of the faithful.
When Saint Paul calls the Church the Bride of Christ, he reveals to man's weak intellect a bit of the powerful mystery of the Church, which will only be fully revealed in heaven. By comparing the intimate relation between Christ and the Church with marriage, he gives an intelligible image of the Church' spiritual fruitfulness. Christ raises the children of God in his Bride. From her womb the faithful are born, and they grow up under her care.
A Catholic can't deny he's dependent on the Church, nor separate his personal faith from it. He can't test his faith by referring to an alleged direct message from God. God reveals, but through the Church. The fruitfulness of the Church may be a secret, but it helps explaining we are children of God. The faithful understands his individual relation with God and his destination in heaven are dependent on his Mother, the Bride of Christ.
Because he's convinced God only meets him through the Church, the faithful won't leave the organism he's a member of. Whenever his personal judgment contradicts the judgment of the Church, he has to obey the Church. The Catholic knows his faith is rich, so he accepts it without causing troubles. Whereas others may dislike the alleged tyranny of the Church, he knows he can rely on the dogma.
Friction between the dogma and the personal opinion can only arise when the individual thinks he's more important than the Church, which is the Mother of the faithful and the Bride of Christ. This may damage the Church, since as a Mother she wants to keep her children, but it is more harmful to the the individual who leaves her, seeking his ways and relying on his own opinion. The history of heresy is tragical, because the heretics are disobedient to the Church which is the teacher of truth, giving the true Gospel to the faithful and judging their creed: "Whoever doesn't listen to the Church, treat him as you would treat a pagan or a tax collector."
The Catholic listens to the Church, because he hears in its voice the voice of Christ.
Who can hear the word of the Church outside it? Who can follow Christ and neglect his Bride?
Faith may be personal, but it has its obligations to Christ who revealed the secrets of God and his obligations to the Church which maintains the purity of these secrets.
Christ gave the Church its authority to teach the Gospel as heiress of the authority of the Apostles. This authority doesn't depend on the fallible judgment of people, but is the infallible authority of God himself who sent the Word to the world to preach the truth and thereafter sent the Spirit to help the Church being the substitute of Christ.
So the Church isn't above the Word and it doesn't tell Christ what He has to say. Nor does it demand its children believe in revelations that are strange to Christ.
The Church only explains what Jesus taught. It explains the meaning of Jesus' words, without adding a jot or tittle, and denounces as a false prophet anyone who is preaching a false gospel. It can do this, since the Word itself asked it to do so, and because the help of the Spirit makes it infallible.
We may call the Catholic creed a creed of the Church, which has the authority and the capability to teach with its dogmas the doctrine of the Saviour. We may also call it a creed of Christ, because the unique and unchangeable doctrine of Christ gave to this creed its form and contents.

{{Because Protestants think faith doesn't only imply the intellect is accepting the revealed truth, but also the whole person is trusting in God, his faith must rely on an immediate contact with God's Spirit and a personal experience of salvation wherein the Church is absent. The task of the Church is only to prepare the faithful by preaching, and the symbols and formulas are only instructive. The Church can never become an authority imposed by God. For the Protestant, the faith doesn't belong to the Church, but to the individual faithful. The Church doesn't cause the grace, but is caused by the grace. The Church doesn't form the faithful, but the personal faith of the individual faithful helps to form the Church.
Catholics can't accept so individualistic and subjective a concept of faith. They don't deny faith is personal and the Spirit speaks to the individual faithful. They only deny faith is exclusive, as if the Spirit reveals and explains the Gospel to the individual person. This is the task of the Church. Through the Church, the Spirit speaks to the faithful and reminds him of all Jesus taught. The testimony of the Church is not superfluous, nor does it subtract from God's honour, but the testimony of the Spirit makes use of the Church. There's a synthesis of the internal testimony of God's Spirit and the external testimony of Jesus through the infallible authority of the Church.
The Church is more than the assembly of the true faithful, because it's an organism that continues Jesus' human nature and is full of Him. Therefore the individual faithful don't carry the Word into the Church, but rather the Church gives the Word to its children.
The task of the Church in preaching the Gospel is more comprehensive and sublime than the Protestant can imagine. Nevertheless, it's a serving task, because, when the Church, as the Teacher of truth, is explaining the meaning of the Gospel, it does so under the direction of the holy Spirit, and God himself guarantees the truth of the faith.
P Kreling OP writes: "The Word of God has been entrusted to the Church, but the Church isn't a judge who can independently decide upon the Word. Instead, the Word of God is judging the Church. So the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is not that Catholicism made the Word subordinate to the Church, whereas Protestantism thinks this is terrible. It's not a different valuation of the sovereign Word of God, but a different concept of Revelation and the subject Revelation speaks to. The Catholic thinks Revelation has a social function and forms the community, so God didn't reveal Himself by whispering to the individual faithful. Although nobody is converted without the grace and the enlightenment by the Spirit, we presuppose the Revelation of Christ. We may refer to the influence of the Spirit on persons, but we realize revelation came to us through the preaching of Christ and the Apostles. God revealed Himself through Christ. He is speaking to all of us at the same time, although some don't hear it. We think Protestantism sacrifices the public character of his speaking through Christ to the personal character of his speaking through the Spirit. The Catholic doesn't eliminate the role of the Spirit, but neither does he want to push the role of Christ to the background."}}

Catholic life

The Catholic view on world and life is based on the revelation of Christ which the holy Spirit explained whenever heterodoxy made this necessary. Its firm idealism is inspired by God's love which lights the mystical fire of grace that makes the mystery of salvation visible and brings the human heart close to Jesus and far from the passing joys of the world.
It's wrong to think Catholicism is intellectual, as if it would only appreciate the brains and not the whole mind and heart.
People sometimes say Catholic theology studies everything, whereas Catholic life leaves much to be desired. It seems the Church overestimates the faith as a principle of knowledge and science so much that its many speculations about Christian life make a fruitful life in Christ almost impossible.
This accusation against the sense of duty of the Church and its faithful is unjust. Catholicism is full of Jesus' life and truth.
The Church unfolds so much power and grace that both the Church and the individual person participate in the activity of Him who gave life and fruitfulness to all people by delivering himself to the stiffness of death.

Catholics are convinced by the sound philosophy of nature and the supernatural revelation that human nature has not been changed into the opposite by Adam's sin.
Although God punished mankind by clipping its wings, subjecting it to suffering and death, and taking away the supernatural life it had received as a gift of love, human nature kept its essence and the power to find itself back.
And it did find itself back, although not by its own strength or merit, because nothing in man obliged God to restore the original situation of fallen mankind.
It was the Son of God who liberated mankind from the misery of a hopeless exile by sacrificing himself as the new Adam.
By Jesus' incarnation, passion and death, God invited mankind to take back its original dignity. Man can accept this invitation by being baptized, because this way he is born again, cleaned from sin, and made a child of God, participating in God's nature and inheriting heaven together with Christ.
So the ideal of Christ is the most important thing in human life.
It is necessary to know this, and to know the best gift man may receive is being a member of Jesus' mystical Body.
However, God gave us even more graces than the grace of faith. We are sure faith as divine knowlege is residing in the intellect, but the grace of salvation is a gift for the whole person with all his talents rather than for the intellect alone.

The vitality of Catholicism is most impressive in all respects.
It works miracles of Christian self-denial and heroic willingness to make sacrifices in saints of all kinds.
It gave the Church all those holy names connected with the noble and successful fight in all fields where Satan is using his evil plans against grace and virtue.
It gave superhuman power to Saint Augustine, the weak youth who turned to God and used all his talents to make people happy, - to Saint Francis, the poor mendicant friar with his childish joyfulness and his great love for nature, - to Saint Thomas Aquinas, the firm philosopher, who wrote tens of important books during a short life, - to Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the militant fighter for the honour of God, - to Saint Teresa of Avila, the nun with mystical gifts who loved to sacrifice herself, - to Saint Thomas More, the high officer of England, who had to pay with his life for his resistance against the Anglican Schism, - and to numerous famous or anonymous servants of God, who preached Christ the Crucified with their life and prayers and sacrifices.
The vitality of the risen God-Man is working in the lives of contemplative munks who retired from the world of loud and sensual pleasure, and in the silent sacrifices of humble people whom the world have forgotten, but the Church also brings God's blessings to all people who listen to its voice and receive the sacraments with a pious heart.
The Church comforts and sanctifies all devout people by bearing Jesus' cross through the world and recovering glorious after all attempts of its enemies.
All people are called to rejoice in being God's children through the medium of the Una Sancta. They are called to acknowledge it's the risen Christ in heaven who through his Bride on the earth is working miracles in everybody.
Everybody will at some moment have to account for the way he brought his own strive for happiness into accord with the honour of God.
Christ himself as the Son of Man will appear on the clouds and ask each individual person the same question he asked Saint Peter:
"And you, who do you say I am?"
No evasive answer can save us, because the sign of the Lamb had always been shining ardently in the sky.
Many will say: "I don't know you. I never learnt your name nor did I ever hear or read about the works of your life."
The anger of God will hit them, because they denied the truth purposely.
Others followed non-Catholic teachers, but discontent didn't completely extinguish their love for the Bride of Christ. They will acknowledge they didn't understand what Jesus meant by Peter who had to confirm the faith of his fellows, the rock that had to bear the Church, the shepherd who had to tend the sheep, and the keys that can open the doors of heaven.
Again, others loved the Lamb, but this couldn't light in their hearts the love for the Lady of the Lamb. They will say they stuck to an erroneous idea when they proudly wished to ban humanity from their fallible minds.
All these people who accepted God's truth but for a egoistic reservation, will feel liberated when the Lamb will speak loving words of forgiveness and consolation, while showing them into the room of the Bride, where a new truth and a new love is awaiting them.
Finally, the people who understood the whole truth, will answer:
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. You were sent by the Father, and a Virgin gave birth to you. You wished to be the Saviour of all, but some accepted your love, whereas others denied it. When ascending to heaven, you handed over the many merits of your holy sacrifice to the Church. The Church is your pure Bride, and in her womb you begot our new life. She is your mystical Body, wherein you nurtured our souls with the Bread of heaven."
The Son of Man will say to them:

O living life and heavenly bread,
o way of truth and divine being!
Your Father raised you in a pure Virgin,
because you wished to cure everybody.

From the 'speyghel der salicheyt van elckerlyc (mirror of the salvation of everybody)'