Our senses and our faith
HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - August 1, 2020 - 12:00am

A common “complaint” God makes of us, if we may call it that, is that we don’t use our senses sight, hearing, smell, touch, etc. to perceive what’s really most important for us to perceive.

This “complaint” is expressed, for example, in the Book of Jeremiah where our Lord said, “Declare this in the house of Jacob and proclaim it in Judah: Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear.” (5,21)

In the gospel of St. Mark as well as in the other gospels: “Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear?” Christ asks the people. (Mk 8,18; cfr. Mt 13,13; Jn 12,40)

The problem is that the senses aren’t united or inspired by faith. They are just left on their own, ruled mainly by instincts and other biological factors. Or at best they may be guided only by an intelligence not yet enlightened by faith.

And things can become so bad that these senses can get quite hostile to anything related to faith that definitely involves spiritual and supernatural realities. That’s why Christ said at one time: “In them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing, but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has grown callous; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.” (Mt 13,14-15)

We need to realize that the first, last, and constant object our senses should perceive is God since he is the origin of everything, the maintainer of the existence of all things. He is everywhere.

As St. Augustine said: “To find where God is may be difficult, but to find where he is not, that is even more difficult.” God’s presence in everything isn’t something cold and indifferent. It’s full of love and solicitude.

We need to train our senses to be guided by our Christian faith, hope, and charity, so we can capture this very consoling reality. They shouldn’t just be left on their own, ruled only by factors other than our faith, hope, and charity. That state of affairs would lead us nowhere other than trouble.

That is why there are so many problems around. It’s because God is ignored in our life and our dealings. We practically avoid the grace he’s willing to give us. We ignore his teachings and ways of how to handle different situations in our life, including the difficulties and problems we encounter.

In other words, we resist his constant help. We prefer to be on our own, relying on our own devices. We really need to wake up from this self-inflicted predicament and have a general overhaul of our beliefs, attitudes, and skills.

We have to activate our faith to such an extent that whatever we see, hear, smell, or feel, we always perceive God and his will and ways. We have to learn the discipline of contemplation, of recollection even while we immerse ourselves in the rough and tumble of daily human affairs.

Obviously, this discipline will have a number of requirements. We have to be very familiar with the teachings and the example of Christ, the fullness of God’s revelation to us. We have to see to it that Christ’s teachings and examples become the main impulse-giver of our senses.

To be able to perceive God always even from the level of our senses is never an undermining of our humanity. It in fact purifies our humanity and puts it in its ideal state!

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