By: Fr. Roy Cimagala
WE need to have a reality check on reality itself. Our concept of reality and truth seems to stand on shaky ground. For many, reality is simply what they see, hear or feel, a product of their senses. Or, it can just be what they understand.
While this concept has a lot of truth in it, it is still lacking, and in fact is lacking in a very fundamental way. Reality cannot be confined simply to the sensible nor to the intelligible. It has other dimensions that transcend the grasp of our senses and intelligence.
Our ideas, for example, while subjective have elements of reality and truth in them. We cannot say that just because these ideas are intangible and abstract, then they are not real or true. Reality cannot escape from our ideas, since our very contact with reality will depend on our ideas, judgments and reasoning.
And when these ideas correspond to the objective reality of things, not only in the physical order but also in the spiritual and supernatural order, then these ideas stop being simply subjective, but are also objective. These ideas are therefore true, not false, real, not illusory.
Reality therefore cannot be restricted to the sensible and intelligible dimensions only. Restricting it that way would miss out many very fundamental values and ideals, like justice, charity, patience, mercy, the value of suffering, and ultimately God, the very author of reality.
We have to understand this point well, since for years we have been locked away in a very deficient understanding of reality. We have just been too dependent on the physical and reasonable, and have largely ignored the more fundamental aspect of truth provided by the spiritual and supernatural sources.
Of course, our usual problem is that we tend to ignore these spiritual and supernatural sources of truth. The underlying predicament is that we tend to rely more on our own estimation of reality than on another source of reality outside of ourselves. And, unfortunately, it’s a tendency now supported by an already well-developed system of questionable attitudes and habits.
In short, we tend to make ourselves the maker of reality and truth, rather than their reflector and conveyor, their lover and user. We usurp the role of God in our pursuit for truth.
We often say that these sources are difficult to access, or that they are not felt readily. While these observations are partly true, they simply do not have the last say. The difficulty involved simply means we just have to try harder. And that’s where the real problem lies—we are often too lazy to exert the needed effort.
We need to reconcile ourselves to the basic truth that reality can only be had when we develop a very personal and intimate relationship with God and follow as best as possible all that God tells us. Otherwise, we would be living in a world of our own making, with some truths in it, but in the end, would just be a fantasy.
To have a reality check therefore is basically to go to God, to know and follow his will and commandments. This may sound like a raving of an overly pious person, a fanatic perhaps, but again, after everything is said and done, this is simply what we get. Reality has God as its beginning, end and the in-between as well.
That is why God came and revealed himself in full in Christ whose presence and action is pursued all throughout time in the Holy Spirit. We need to acknowledge this truth and conform ourselves to it as best as we can. Otherwise, our estimation of reality and truth would be shaky ab initio.
We have to learn how to be consistent with our relationship with God while being immersed in the things of this world. This is a big problem to us, since we often think that God and the world are incompatible. We have to outgrow this bias, and start to develop the proper attitudes and skills to keep ourselves in line with this basic truth.
We have to know how to live in the presence of God all the time, how to discern his will in an ongoing way. This can mean many things—we have to learn to pray, study the doctrine of our faith, develop virtues, avail of the sacraments, follow the example of Christ who told us to deny ourselves and carry the cross.
We have to learn to deal with the Holy Spirit. That’s when we can really say we are in reality.