In 1980, just after I had met him for the first time, Father John Hardon, S.J. said something to me privately that also became more and more important in my own later life, especially in my growing understanding of our Catholic Faith. He simply said: “We must live the Parable of the Sower.”
As Father Hardon then proceeded to shed a little more light on these words, he noted that in the Parable of the Sower–where Our Lord also gave His Own exegesis to that Parable, His longest Parable–there is an especially intimate analogous relation between “the soil” and “the soul.” That is to say, between the attentive “Cultivation of the Soil” and the attentive “Cultivation of the Soul.” He then added: “If we do not continue to grow in the disciplined and cultivated and more fertile understanding of our Catholic Faith, we shall lose it.” Father’s words were to me also a deep and fresh way of understanding the incisive Latin formulation, “Fides quaerens intellectum.” Faith seeking understanding–and continually! We must not (by our allowing them to remain unexercised) let our faculties atrophy. And we must keep an increasingly fertile field “well-weeded’! For–as Beatrice taught the negligent and all-too-slack Dante the Pilgrim in Purgatory–weeds grow faster in a very fertile soil, in a soil such as loam. We must, God willing, thus come to exercise the full range of our faculties along lines of excellence. Hence more and more to live a life of virtue: the fuller range of the virtues, both in nature and in grace.
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