In a world dominated by an increasing array of media, how and why is it necessary to focus on what is real? Natural law is described as dealing with factors of absolute reality. The logic goes that natural law is the law of nature and nature’s God (per Thomas Jefferson) and is therefore supreme, eternal, basic, comprehendible, rationale, and the most important to follow and keep. As with most aspects of our supreme creator, the triune God, we should not perceive Him as unreachable or too difficult to follow. Any person seeking the voice of God in quiet and solace can determine the right and wrong choices for his or her life through reason. Once of our challenges today may be finding the quiet time necessary to reflect and adjust our direction as it may be necessary.
What we have to do is take control of our own time and use it to inform our intellect and shape our will in conformance with the comprehensible things of God, who is Truth itself. It is in these times that we have the opportunity to discover and reinforce what is truly real. We have a number of choices including reading, taking a class, spending scheduled time just with the family, going for a walk and making observations, playing music, studying the faith, serving other people, and, of course, praying and seeking grace through the sacraments. When we do these things we can give glory to God by focusing our gaze on Him and the wonder of what He has provided for us in His creation. While this can sometimes seem laborious at first, if we take our time at it, we will eventually desire to seek real beauty more often and on a regular basis. The end result will be a clearer picture of the direction of our life, what is real, what we should move towards, and what we should stay away from. Just as the law of God is natural, we will naturally move towards what is right for us. Keeping Jesus and His Church family in the forefront of our daily thinking is the key.
If we do not take control of our time, we will lose the battle for reality. We may have a general awareness of what is true and some type of foundation present from our childhood but we will eventually get sucked into the whirlpool of competitive opinions and be exhausted by either combating false proclamations or struggling to stay away from being swallowed up by them and wondering years later what happened. Spiritual destruction of our heart and mind is the risk we take in not proactively living in truth. As with all other aspects of the role of provider, protector, and leader, this battle for reality is one that we need to purposely and daily prepare for and engage in.
The loss of what is real is such an epidemic today that most would think my emphasis on focusing on what is real to be extraneous or silly. After all we are told to do what feels right and that any assessment of what another is doing as right or wrong is invalid because it is subjective. Instead of parents correcting children, we require systems of schools or villages to raise him or her. But these systems often fail because the people running them are not worried near as much about truth as they are about what others’ perception is of them.
Think about how much of our time is spent within the context of truth? Let’s start with crossing off the number of hours spent in front of the television. Here we find sometimes entertaining and relaxing diversions but we don’t find truth. Often we are watching other people pretending to do things. This is contrary to our nature which is satisfied by us using our mental and physical faculties to achieve accomplishments. If we are not watching people pretend, we are watching unrealistic accomplishments (for the average person) on home, athletic, cooking, or fashion shows which emphasize specialized skill or natural gifts over moral integrity or pursuit of overall excellence with the gifts that God has given us. What is most real to God is that which is in alignment with the grace, law, and virtues that He has blessed us with. What is most real to God is most real to us because He created us.
Another example today is political rhetoric where the protagonists and declared leaders frequently tell people what they want to hear rather than what is true. Who doesn’t support platitudes pushing benefits for the elderly, children, and veterans? Who is against clean air to breathe or good health? But how many of these politicians have facts, math, and the legitimate use of the scientific method behind their arguments? Not only do they not have facts, such as how their programs would be paid for(yes there are no free lunches in the real world), but they have no consideration of negative ramifications beyond the initial perceived good, such as is the case of abortifacents and blood clots as side effects of contraceptives, depression as the result of abortion, AIDSs as a side effect of homosexuality, or loss of economic production and jobs as the result of population control.
When it comes to paying for things that we want to have, it is clear that most of us do not face the reality that if we do not have the money for something then we cannot purchase it. This used to be an indisputable fact many years ago. If someone wanted a house but no means of building it or buying it then they did not get it. But the continual barrage of commercials and programs, movies, and computer paraphernalia tempts and distorts the lens by which we see reality and we live outside of our means. In the workplace, rather than face up to and declare the truth about a given result, we are pressured to gloss over the thorny details to save face – leading to unsettledness both for the worker and the company, which if not eventually confronted, leads to the ultimate termination of both.
Entire colossal peoples such as the Roman Empire have collapsed under the weight of not facing the truth. Entire nations have been persecuted, tortured, and murdered by dictators that made up their own version of truth. Families are torn apart on a regular basis through divorce because of either direct mistrust through past indiscretions or an unwillingness to participate or outright ignorance of the sacrifice required that the marriage vows declare. In the United States, Her recent weaknesses and the rapid decline of the family are not disconnected. This brings us back to natural law and what is truly real.
The truth is objective and this is a gift from God. God’s law is love and justice because it is as real as gravity. What goes up comes down and what is sinful tears away at our spiritual, emotional, and mental fabric. We are called to be guardians and standard bearers of truth for ourselves and our families. All fronts are inter-connected. All battles can be met with the same tools of prayer and actionable virtue. There is no such beauty as when listening to the words of the prayers of saints or the words of sacred scripture, or a father leading his family in these sublimities and taking them literally. Indeed, what does it profit a man to gain anything at the cost of his soul? The pinnacle of beauty are the words of Christ Himself which are powerful guideposts to live by and cannot possibly steer you wrong. It is not just to keep the truth from others. It is not right to leave an uninformed person to their own devices when it may lead to their peril. And it is evil to lie to others because it leads them away from truth. Jesus Christ told us that we are set free from the truth. Those that oppose Christ or refuse to proclaim Him are enemies of what is real and they are direct threats to the fabric of your being unless you make a conscious decision to peacefully oppose. We cannot straddle the fence. We cannot ignore what is around us. We cannot cower into a hole. We must engage in the battle for what is real.