By Fr. Roy Cimagala
A PRAYER struck my attention recently.
“Grant us the gift of knowledge,” it said, “to make us understand properly what created things are, and what they ought to be according to the divine plan of creation and elevation to the supernatural order.”
It was a prayer addressed to the Holy Spirit who gives us the seven-fold gift of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, piety, fortitude and fear of the Lord. But it reminded me of what knowledge is all about.
The pursuit of knowledge should always be understood as an effort that is linked with God, with his will, plans and designs for us, with the fact that we and everything we know and discover are meant for a supernatural life.
It should not be done independently of God, and much less contrary to his laws. We should never think the knowledge we accumulate, no matter how mundane, has no relation to God.
This is because everything comes from God and belongs to God, and everything is under a divine plan that is of course completely mysterious to us. Yet, in spite of the mystery, we are capable of knowing and understanding at least parts of it.
Our problem, of course, is that we often pursue knowledge fully at our own designs, with our own motives and purposes. We hardly relate it to God and his plans.
We sometimes even go to the extent of thinking that God has no business in this effort, or worse, that there’s really no God, and that we are just on our own to know and discover whatever we want and whatever we can.
In this kind of set-up, we make ourselves prone to all sorts of dangerous possibilities—vanity, pride, greed, sensuality, exaltation of pleasure and earthly power, etc.
And the knowledge we accumulate is of the distorted and corrupted kind. Legal knowledge becomes legalism, the sciences develop without ethics, and the arts and entertainment easily succumb to immoral pragmatism.
The higher knowledge of philosophy and theology cannot help but get entangled with the allures of relativism. They transform into ideologies with extremist and fundamentalist molds, or with lax and happy-go-lucky tendencies.
Thus we need the constant effort to remind ourselves of relating our work and knowledge with God. As much as possible, we should articulate this link personally. We have to develop the habit of asking ourselves what relation any piece of information and knowledge we get, has with God.
The ideal is that we automatically become conscious that what we are doing and knowing are directly related to God and his plans, and that our knowledge of earthly things brings us closer to God.
This, of course, is not easy to achieve. We have to contend with so many difficulties. First, there are our weaknesses, like our laziness and our attachment to worldly things. They hinder us in our effort to connect our knowledge of things with God
There also are temptations from the devil and the world itself that seek to bind us to our own world, keeping us quite egotistic and increasingly unmindful of God and of others.
Besides, the objective connection itself between our knowledge and God is charged with mysteries that can easily lend itself to confusion and indifference. It can lead us to get discouraged at the dark prospect of ever knowing it clearly.
But if our mindset is to know and discover this connection and relation, sooner or later we will see it more and more clearly. Obviously, we have to be patient, pursue the effort without let up, and use all the means to make this possible.
We, for example, need to reflect and pray. This practice has to be deeply ingrained in us. Our problem is that very few people realize this need. Many prefer simply to be very active and to enjoy things.
Then, we need to know more about God’s doctrine, fully revealed by Christ and now taught by the Church, so we can begin to be familiar with God’s will and ways.
We also have to develop virtues that conform us more and more with God. Hopefully, with these things, we can readily see the connection between our knowledge and God’s will, between the events of our life and God’s providence.