Many people argue that the teachings of the Church cannot be believed, because they include seemingly impossible doctrines such as transubstantiation or the Trinity. The mysteries of the Church are treated as grounds for disbelief.
But the fact that we, as humans, cannot understand the full measure of the Trinity and other divine mysteries is one of the greatest signs of the truth of the Catholic Faith. In the famous (and apocryphal) words of the early Christian theologian Tertullian, “I believe because it is impossible.”
For as Christians, we believe our God is infinite. We know that He acts and moves in ways beyond our understanding. We believe He can do all things – even things seemingly contrary to physical nature, because He made physical nature.
By contrast, we, as human beings, have limited intellects. There are many things, even in the physical world, that humans cannot and will never be able to comprehend. The same is infinitely truer of the spiritual world. Indeed, it would be presumptuous for us to expect that we could understand God and the spiritual realm completely.
The veracity of the mysteries of the Faith is not destroyed by the seeming impossibility of transubstantiation or the virgin birth; indeed, it is strengthened by those divine paradoxes. It stands to reason that since God is so far beyond us, we as human beings will not be able to understand everything about God. As Isaiah says: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts your thoughts.” (Is 55:9)
Could a God that humans fully understand be truly God? Or would a supposedly infinite God that limited humans could fully understand be merely a human construct and nothing more?
(By now, longtime readers should know my policy on rhetorical questions.)
The question is not whether we, with our limited intellects, can fully understand all the mysteries of the faith. The question is whether belief in a God we could fully understand with our limited intellects would even be possible.