Having Faith: Expanding Reality

In a meeting with my spiritual director the other day, he mentioned something to me that really hit on a core issue for the modern person. Although I can’t remember exactly the words he used, the point was something like this: reality is overwhelmingly big—and dense—and far too much for the human mind to understand, unless we expand the limits of that reality by having faith in God. I understand that this may perhaps make absolutely no sense upon a first reading, but I think there is some real substance here that needs to be thrashed out.

To begin, the idea of reality being dense (again, that wasn’t Father’s word, but it is my interpretation) is something we don’t often consider. Oftentimes it seems quite the opposite; we are able to think so many different things that there really appears to be no hope for a cohesive unity in the vastness of the universe. But, this idea of complexity really translates into a density—in some sense—that needs to be unpacked. We need to use our minds to figure out the intricacies of the reality we exist within. However, the human mind alone cannot solve all the problems, much less the ‘mysteries,’ of our spatiotemporal existence. All of us can attest to this, and all of us know that if there is truly to be a resolution of our existence and the ‘meaning of life,’ there must be some help from the outside. In short, the world itself cannot be its own solution; there is no room to work.

Enter faith. By ‘expanding reality’ beyond its normal limits—the limits we denote when we think in purely human and physical terms—we find some space to work with. No longer are we constricted to our own mental capacity, but rather we find ‘answers’ to reality’s problems and ‘resolutions’ for its mysteries that are truly supernatural and superhuman. Our endless mental wanderings can finally, with the assistance of faith, be put to rest, and we can be sure that something beyond us does exist—namely God—and that our trust in his providential creation and intervention into human reality is enough to ensure that all of our deep and sometimes painful questions are in fact answerable. Certainly, this solution might seem somewhat superficial to many, but speaking in both philosophical and theological terms it is an ultimate end that, as human beings, we are quite destined to encounter. All we have to do is follow the course of knowledge and curiosity that nature (i.e. God through his creation) has laid out for us.

Ultimately, this supernatural rationality which aides us in understanding reality is nothing other than the Logos—the word St. John uses in his Gospel to denote Jesus Christ, who became man for our salvation. For this reason, our salvation is not only of the physical and spiritual order, although these are present, but also a salvation of the human capacity for understanding. Our natural end—viz. the ultimate goal of our earthly humanity—is to know, love and serve God as fully as possible. This requires our being able to grasp the existence in which he has placed us! Only then, after we understand and appreciate this, can we proceed to our supernatural end, which is the unmediated encounter with God in the beatific vision.