Humility comes in many forms throughout our life, but no humility is as damaging to our pride nor as restorative to our souls as intellectual humility. As human beings, we have a right to think and have opinions. As faithful Catholics, the Church both respects our rights to think as free,
intellectual being and asks for obsequium religiosum (religious assent). Religious assent here is defined as an assent of the will and an assent of the mind. During an assent of the will, the Church asks us, especially those studying and teaching theology, to restrain our wills by not Saint Catherine of Siena publicly speaking out against the Church (Donum Veritatis, 27). Meaning, we may disagree with something being said or taught, but we must never be the source of scandal. An assent of the mind is much more difficult for it asks us to change our interior motives and thoughts towards the truth held by the Church. This assent is meant to guide us in our assent to the truth, the goal of all theological enquiry.
At the same time, intellectual humility is not only practiced with theologians in a religious assent, but also exercised on the parish level. As members of our Dominican church family, we must first practice intellectual humility when we show charitable thoughts for one another. This can only occur when we give one another a certain benefit of the doubt. When you and I move away from an "us vs. them" mentality towards an environment of reconciliation, understanding, and collaboration. St. Catherine of Siena reminds us, "For there is no obedience without humility, nor humility without charity." Therefore, may intellectual humility reign in our hearts as we strive towards our primary goal, veritas!
-br. James Martin Nobles, O.P