I grew up hearing sayings like: “curiosity killed the cat” (poor cat) and “what they don’t know won’t hurt them!” It is so interesting how it is built into our human nature that we want to know things. I have a few examples of this from my own life. I like to read…very much…and when I was working at a library during my High School years, I would pick up books to read… but I would be very anxious to know how they ended. So…instead of reading the book, I would just read the end. Another time it was my sister’s Birthday, and she wanted to know everything she was getting for her birthday…her birthday was just the next day…I couldn’t hold it in anymore…so I told her everything!
Knowing is so key in relationships and helps us in our interactions with other people. Knowing people’s temperaments and how they respond to certain situations is really helpful! Some people are very much extroverts and find joy in being around people. Some people like their space and prefer to spend time in quiet and solitude. Some people have a drive to get things done and enjoy a good challenge…while others prefer to take it easy and enjoy life as it comes. Learning about each other, getting to know our strengths, gifts, and weaknesses can really serve well in the long run both in family life and community life. We need to know ourselves before we can fully give ourselves.
Jesus is the Truth. He said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). He told Pilate, “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice” (John 18:37). He who lives in a web of lies and deceit is not at peace with himself or others. He who is living in the Truth is at peace.
Knowing is a big part of our relationship with God for we are created to know, love and serve Him. We know that the intellect is made to know the truth of things and to be able to contemplate God’s beauty, truth and goodness. St. Anthony the Great said, “The intellect in a pure devout soul truly sees God the unbegotten, invisible and ineffable, who is the sole purity in the pure of heart.”
There are various acts of the mind. The mind gazes upon reality through the senses, makes judgements on the reality that it has perceived and it can reason by moving from one truth to another. Let us take prayerful meditation on the Prodigal Son story as an example. I am able to read the story as it is on the page and picture all the events in my mind. I can see that the young man asks for his inheritance, leaves home, spends it all, and all that time his father is watching patiently for him. As I reflect on what I read, I can draw conclusions from it: the mercy of God, God is Father, we are sinners. The purpose of meditation is to rest in the Truth, allowing the Lord to work from within, and eventually that turns into a burst of love.
St. Maximilian Kolbe once said, “What we can do and should do is to seek the truth and to serve it when we have found it.” It is our duty to seek after truth and once we have found it, embrace it with all our hearts! There are five ways of knowing: moral reasoning (mind is led by objective truths), emotional reasoning (the mind is led by the emotions), volitional reasoning (the mind is led by the will, for example a Supreme Court decision made), sacred reasoning (the mind is elevated by the light of faith and is led by Divine Revelation as taught and guarded by the Magisterium), finally contemplation (the mind is silent before the mystery of God and is led through the dark night by the Holy Spirit).
Since the mind has been wounded by ignorance in the state of original sin, it is prone to error in judgement. There are various examples of this: curiosity, intellectual pride, and spiritual blindness. Man was made for contemplation of Divine things. Curiosity can be dangerous because it is possible for the mind to neglect the things of God and salvation and be preoccupied on less useful things. We can be so fixated on truths that do not give life. What can be done? Contemplation. Contemplation communicates life to the soul by pondering the truths of God and allows us to ponder truths already known in order to be transformed by them.
Do we take enough time in our day to ponder the truths of God? Do we waste time thinking about things that do not help us grow in our relationship with God?
Intellectual pride can also occur where someone is so confident in their own judgement and reason that they do not want to seek help or counsel from anyone else. This mentality takes away the light of the Holy Spirit. Heresies were born sadly because people in history put their judgement above the Church which put out the light of faith all together! Spiritual blindness is another wound where persons lack the light of faith…they are not able to see the things of God because of intellectual pride and curiosity. This leads into all sorts of difficulties! Lack of faith in the Real Presence, preferring temporal goods to eternal goods (soccer game over going to Sunday Mass) are some examples. Divine light is taken away because of repeated sins.
What purifies these wounds of the intellect? Faith. Someone with faith must cling firmly to the truths of the Faith on the authority of God. With faith, we are able to judge according to the mind of Christ. The light of faith must be animated by charity and the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that we can be guided in all we do, think, say and avoid. For example, it takes faith to realize that sometimes persons are brought into our life in order to help us grow in virtue, understanding and patience. It takes faith to believe the Word of God even if we do not fully understand it. It takes faith to accept suffering as it comes. Faith is needed in every walk of life! Let us pray for greater Faith in God…because greater faith will lead to greater love!