Tuesday, August 07, 2007


I have come to experience over the past few weeks that people seem to lack a sense of mystery. This is not just something that is apparent in just a select few, but really, in the end, I think we all lack that certain sense of mystery.

I will give an example. There are many times that people will ask for a reason behind a certain action. There are certain times that giving a reason is acceptable and indeed proper. However, it is not always the case that we ought to have to give an answer. There may be a valid reason, but it may just be that they ought not to be privileged to such a reason. If a Bishop moves a priest, he is not required to explain why, or if someone is not wanting to go somewhere, they do not have to always give a reason why it is they don't wish to go there if it is personal and are uncomfortable with the public knowing about such decision.

This all leads to the culture in general and, in a certain sense, the Church. A loss of mystery follows from a loss sense of Beauty. When we loose sight of what is True, Good, and Beautiful, we loose sight that we can not comprehend the True, Good, and Beautiful. This is, for example, the danger of technology. Technology makes everything accessible, tangible, explainable. Technology becomes, as Fr. de Souza said at a lecture here one evening, about technology becoming anti-sacramental.

The Sacraments are meant to be mysterious. We can have an understanding of them, but, in the end, we can never comprehend the total reality, and this is most true in the Eucharist.

This is why I believe intellectualism can go too far. St Thomas, after his mystical experience, stated that "All I have written is but straw". Intellectual pursuits are true, good, and a gift from God, we are supposed to explore that gift according to the size of the gift given. However, just as it is with the grace of freedom, the gift can be misused. We can come to worship intellectualism. Intellectual pursuits are only so good as when our lives reflect holiness. If intellectual pursuits are not bearing fruit in our souls and the souls of others, then we have to question if we are using this gift accordingly.

The danger of intellectual pursuits I find is that people tend to want to know about everything, even if you do not feel they have the right to know. It is true that we are supposed to give a reason for the hope within us, but I think we can take this pursuit too far when attampts to understand things we were never meant to understand. I think that mystery is a good thing because it leads to contemplation. Intellectual pursuits are only so good as to when they lead us to contemplate the beauty of God in a deeper and more profound way.

I may be wrong in this and would gladly accept any comments.


1 comment:

Colm said...

I think you're half wrong and half right. There is certainly a large part of our society that has lost sense of mystery, sanctity and reverence, but then there is also another, even larger part of our society that has not. The former you could say is comprised of public intellectuals, media personalities and far too many academics, while the latter is made up of the general public, religious leaders, civil servants and so on. You get the idea.

Society hasn't lost a sense of mystery, it has just focused it on things that aren't necessarily or even particularly religious. Supernaturalism, including things like ESP, space-aliens, and witchcraft, has never been so popular. Even in the secular sphere, mystery thrives on as people become consumed by political , industrial and social conspiracies theories and other bizarre tidbits which ooze esotericism from their very cores. And you can hardly blame us as a society for becoming so wrapped up with silly things like all of the aforementioned: We're constantly bombarded by them on our tvs, cell phones, video games, newspapers, books and movies. One thing we're not bombarded by is Christianity, and again, you get the idea.

Great post though - I look forward to our brainstorming session in September!