1. There is so much talk about reason and faith among Catholic intellectuals. But much of them are easily misunderstood or misinterpreted precisely because there is no right reasoning; and the sad consequence? There is no faith.
2. The Catholic Church is the only institution that loves to use right (or sound)reasoning, and preserves it. Other philosophies or pseudo-religions either hate it or forbids the use of it. If a philosophy or religion is suspected of error, its promoters will forbid the use of reason lest their errors be discovered. Sometimes this prohibition comes in the form of forbidding their followers to analyze their beliefs. Or sometimes they forbid them to study other beliefs. Or some resort to downright threat of capital punishment for wanting to discover the truth or analyze one's error. Now that is terribly unreasonable!
3. Fortunately, (though unfortunately for many), Truth is supernatural, i.e. it is over and above natural human reason. Commonly referred to as Divine Revelation, we would need divine grace to know and obey it. But we need a functioning reason to receive this grace. Considering that man has a fallen nature due to original sin; he is ruled by concupiscence which constantly tries to over-rule reason. In fact, it is the rule of rational psychology that concupiscence and reasoning cannot function at the same given time.
4. As long as man is ruled by fallen human nature, concupiscence dominates him . He will begin to reason rightly only after he has overcome concupiscence through repentance. Repentance is the main message of the Old Testament which was perfected by Christ in the New Testament. After repentance, man becomes poor in spirit and receives the gift of the Holy Spirit called the Fear of God; and only then does he receive the grace to reason reasonably or think rightly.
5.Thus, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, because that is the only time man begins to use reason: this is the beginning of faith. Thus faith is built on reason. Man cannot think of Divine revelation unless he frees himself from his fallen human nature. Man cannot make an act of faith unless he uses his reason, because faith is an assent of his reason to the truths of faith. And he needs grace to be able to go deeper into the knowledge of God. In fact the first act of reason is to know God, commonly called the preamble of faith.
6. Man, as long as he is ruled by his fallen nature (which for many would be their entire life) cannot think rightly. (This is why it is impossible to talk about the true God except between thinking individuals.) That's why no one can talk about the true God with just anyone. Discussion must be among thinking individuals. The very act of belief is an act of syllogism.
7. Pope Benedict is right when he says that there is no hope in any discussion unless we begin with the premise that reason must be the basis of discussion and reason must prevail. Otherwise, concupiscence, that dark inner self in man which St. Paul describes as the source of all evil, will prevail. (Picture is fragment of painting of St. Thomas of Aquinas.)