Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Recovering Our Sight

Life. It is a beautiful experience, one that I have spent a little time over the last couple of weeks thinking about more closely, as my niece has recently had a baby. This child, a precious little girl, is at the start of a journey that will last all of eternity. She is just now starting to see the marvels of God's creation. Looking at a world, full of opportunities for exploring, which a thousand lifetimes would never be able to exhaust, she beholds a multitude of wonders. For at this stage, though she is only an infant, she has a power that most of us lose quite early in life. I refer, of course, to the power of sight. She sees (or at least will see) more of the world from her crib every day than most of us see in our widest travels. For most of us see nothing.

That almost all of us are blind, I suppose, is something that goes without saying. It is one of the most obvious things in the world. For the pedantic out there who insist that, in fact, they see quite well, I should perhaps clarify that I am not referring to physical sight, but rather a vision of things as they really are. That we are so blinded is obvious from the fact that we are so often "bored". For why should we be bored? Why must we have a thousand amusements produced by others in order to keep us occupied? We have, in fact, practically been trained to believe that if we do not have these amusements, that we are doomed to be "bored". But it is an illusion. For if we simply could *see* what is already in front of us, we have enough material for contemplation to last us for an entire lifetime. There is nothing that is not a starting point for admiring the fact of existence itself. At the least we can always be satisfied with the materials right in front of us, and use them to keep us entertained. And this is proven by the fact that little children are able to do so. Give a little child a cardboard box, and see how much enjoyment he can get out of it. Surely if he can get so much immense enjoyment out of a cardboard box, we should at the least be able to get immense enjoyment out of what we already have, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. We have no excuse for boredom. When we are bored, we are experiencing a (hopefully temporary) blindness to the marvel of life. For life is indeed a marvel, even on the natural level.

What is true on the natural level is also true on the supernatural level. Just as we have all been born into this natural life with the power of sight, and perhaps have lost it over the years, so we all have a spiritual sight when we are spiritually reborn in the sacrament of Baptism that we must be on our guard against losing. Some of us receive the sacrament of baptism when infants (just as the niece of a good friend of mine was only a couple of days ago); some of us when we are older if we are converts. But whenever we are "born again", we are granted a vision of supernatural realities that are inspiring enough to make whatever tribulations we experience in this life pale in comparison. We are granted the grace to make a journey, the end of which (if we stay on the path) is eternal Beatitude with Him who is our Supreme Good. What could be a greater goal than that? We have a supernatural family, the Saints, "so great a cloud of witnesses" (cf. Hebrews 12:1), already united with God, and always ready to intercede for us whenever we ask, as well as fellow Christians on earth who we can turn to as we make our journey. We are not left alone to attempt to discern God's will, but the Holy Spirit, operating through the Church as well as through our own hearts, guides us. God has written us a letter as well, in Holy Scripture, and its interpretation which is the heart of Tradition. We as well are able to commune with Him in prayer, going "with confidence to the throne of grace" (Hebrews 4:16). Is there a marvel in creation that can parallel that? And we can do that at any time! Finally, we are given strength through the holy sacraments, and none so tremendously as the Holy Eucharist, consecrated in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in which our Lord is really present to us, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine. What greater union can we have with Christ?

And yet..how often many of us do not truly *see* these things. We acknowledge them; we profess our belief in them to others. And indeed, we do truly believe in them in our hearts. We have supernatural life within us. But do we have supernatural sight so as to acknowledge the above in our daily lives; *constantly* seeing them, that is, as realities, and not forgetting them? If we did so, would not our lives be much different than they are now? I speak of myself most of all; I cannot comment as to the state of others. But I know that *I* do not think of those things nearly as often as I should. It should be something constantly before my eyes. But it is not. Most of the time, I struggle to view those gifts from God, distracted as I am by the concerns of this natural life. I have, in fact, to the degree I am so distracted, developed a spiritual sort of blindness, in that I do not see what is really there, which causes me problems. But just because I do not direct my attention to these supernatural realities, they do not cease to exist. I need to redirect my attention obviously.

A person when they are bored does not see what is right in front of them, not to its full extent, and that is (speaking purely on the natural level) a sort of blindness. In order to recover their sight, they must become as a little child again. Then they well have an abundance of gifts, first granted to them simply through the gift of being alive, of having been born to natural life. That is the reward of appreciation. A Christian who does not see all the gifts they have received from God must likewise become as a little child again in order to receive the fulness of their spiritual sight again, which has become impaired. They must become as they were when first born to supernatural life through baptism. Then they, too, will be able to appreciate the abundance of gifts that they have received, which, in turn, will help them recover their "first charity" (Apocalypse 2:4). And is not that a gift to be desired by all? It leads them more surely to the greatest Gift, God Himself, which is our ultimate Goal.