In our desire for purpose, several necessities must occur, the conditions for the possibility of a deeper union with Christ. These necessities might be broken down into three basic categories. First, the initial awakening to the reality of Christ and the choice to either follow or deviate from the mission He calls us to. Second, the foundational acceptance of Christ, as facilitated by reception of the initiating sacraments, such as Baptism and Confirmation. And lastly, the continued relationship and intensification of sharing in the divine life of Christ through regular participation in the Church’s sacraments. More often than not, the second and third necessities are brought into focus by the Church and those who teach the faith. In more recent years, the evangelistic outreach of the faithful has brought the lens of labor back onto the first initial awakening.
Note that the first step in the process of faith is an arousing of vision, a change in the way we see things, as it seems clear that even in a time and culture where the desired view of God is often dimmed through a relativist-bent intelligence, where the divine is outmoded opium of the past.
Yet still we see quite often this reoccurring theme of a change of heart, a change in the way we experience and come to know our surroundings. Could it be that there might be an indelible mark on the hearts of humankind to search out this need for change, this ‘rebirth’? Perhaps the sleight of hand that relativism offers cannot fulfill that need. The change of vision it offers is less oriented toward transcendence and growth, and more toward interiorizing the desire for a greater good. If we mechanize every aspect of our culture, even the rose might lose its purpose. The sun becomes nothing more than a burning ball of light, irrelevant to the sure sign it represents. The moon might simply become a crony rock which floats above us, no mind towards the incredible reflection of that light which guides us. A destitute existence might befall the evocative nature of the poem. However, if we change our way of thinking, awaken our senses to a contemplative desire for supremacy, we can bring about this stirring within our soul for more than the material worth of those things around us.
There might be several ways in which this divine change might take place. I thought I might delve into three specific ways and provide examples from a culture which yearns for this way of seeing. First, is the proverbial unplugging from the materialistic existence which pervades many today. This change of perception reveals a much wider world than we often allow us to see. The masters of excavating this reality might be those incredible authors from the turn of the century; Tolkien, Lewis, Chesterton, Newman, etc. I can’t help but remember the blockbuster hit, The Matrix, when discussing such a change. The main character Neo, knew in his heart that there had to be more. It wasn’t until the intercessory actions of men and women like Morpheus that he was able to be, quite literally, unplugged from the entrapment of materialistic existence, one in which humans were used and discarded and the ultimate end of the materialist philosophy is fulfilled. This unplugging might be painful, but in the end, it reveals the world as it ought to be. Now, I know that the world he then entered was one where the sun was scorched and life was hard, but it took a self-sacrifice to enter into the darkness, give his life so that true light might re-enter, thus reminding us of the choice we all face: will we do what is necessary now that we have been given the chance to ‘see’ for the first time?
The second path is one in which an experience draws us deeper into the union with true reality. This experience is an eye-opening reality of the slavery of sin. However the hope lies in the viability of the following movement, once the choice is made, that from here on there is no mediocrity. Rather, this moment calls us to a greater good, one which bids us to come along for the ride towards a higher gain, a summum bonum. This slavery which binds our ability to experience love and grace draws us away from hope. Most often we find this among those dealing with addictions; nevertheless this happens to nearly all those who want a deeper relationship with the divine. This recognition of the human condition is not the blurry incongruence due to a checkered past. Rather, it is an eye-opening grace in which we are finally able to experience the divine within our own lives through this identification of the fallen, though worthy of salvation, human nature. We can experience such a path through the great literature of the past. Charles Dickens’ character ‘Pip’ in the masterpiece Great Expectations for example, who is drawn towards the worldly and thus falls into the trappings of wealth and stature, recognizes his fallen character through the inquiring of a fellow man. He then must take a deeper look at his life as the scales have fallen from his eyes and there is now no turning back.
Lastly, a third path which might be as adventuresome as it is a merriment, is the recognition of the meaning in the simple and contemplative. For example, did you know that merely pondering the meaning of a color might actually lead you to a higher and more profound good? The Church in Her ancient wisdom has intertwined the use of colors throughout the liturgical year in a way of remembrance of the times we currently participate in. Or, have you ever thought about what the deeper meaning and hidden treasure of the simple tree might hold? All of these wonderful creations of God have the inherent distinction of leading us toward the Creator. A fantastic book entitled, The Meaning of Blue: Recovering a Contemplative Spirit dives deep into the wells of such considerations and I highly recommend a prayerful reading of it.
Our lives are meant to be a great adventure. One filled with wonder and awe towards the higher things of God. While it might be easier to sit back and take things for the face value, it certainly isn’t worth our time when a vast world of mysticism, wonderment, and journey await us. Are we willing to remove such scales which blind us to the wider world where a fairy might seem more real than the nominal existence in which we find ourselves? Will we fulfill our calling as homo viator? What needs to occur in our own lives is the searching of those things which will change the way we see the world, and once that change occurs, to decide if we will take the hand of Christ and voyage into the cosmic unknown through the sharing of the divine life found within the sacramental offerings of Holy Mother Church.