To find truth we have to be willing to train the intellect:
Neither Drew, nor I grew up as strong practicing Catholics. We did not have Bibles in our childhood homes, night prayers, or a relationship with Jesus in our youth. But we both grew up in homes that valued learning, and this cultivated a desire to seek the truth.
The Goal of the Human Intellect
We both were searching. As Catechism Paragraph 27 states, “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for.” Are you searching, do you feel restless?
Saint Augustine famously states, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, my Lord.” But how do we rest in the Lord, in his truth and happiness? First, we have to train our intellect. Because it is our intellect and will that make us more like God and less like animals, and the goal of human life is to know God and become more like him.
The goal of the human intellect, according to philosopher Aristotle, is to determine the first cause. This is why we believe that if you are genuinely seeking truth, it will lead you to God, who is the first cause. Ultimately this will lead you to the person of Christ and his one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church.
Engaging the Culture
But learning requires conversation. Not preaching or teaching but honest dialogue that engages the other. Honestly, wanting to learn and understand another’s point of view. Far too often, we stop the conversation before it even begins. Agreeing to disagree, or just avoid hard or meaningful topics.
Our social media algorithms limit what we see instead of a variety of opinions, and we become pigeonholed. To foster growth in ourselves and others, we have to be willing to engage the culture and foster conversation beyond small talk. We have to practice this by starting to learn how to fist have a conversation with God by using the Scriptures.
Mixing Up Good and Evil
Isaiah 5:20 states, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” How do we ensure we are on the right path, that we know what truth is? First, coming back to the Word of God in both prayer and study turning to the words of truth. The biggest temptation to redefine evil is when we are hooked on a sin.
Scott Hann in The Lamb’s Supper, discusses that we must first try to resist temptations that go against both natural and moral law, when we fail we need to repent. If we choose not to repent, failing to accept responsibly for how we have hurt ourselves, others and our relationship with God, then God allows us to have our way an experience the natural consequences of our choices.
Over time this will form disordered habits or vices that darken out intellect and weaken our will. Sometimes mercifully God allows for us to hit rock bottom to try to provide a wake-up call. But we also have the free will to choose to return to Confession, to repent.
Turning from a vice isn’t easy, it will require sometimes a painful purification through fire. It requires breaking habits that have brought comfort, pleasure, and numbing. But we trust what God has for us will lead to greater joy, peace, and fulfillment. This is the sanctification that grants true freedom.
So how do we practically train the intellect? We start by study, developing curiosity about truth. The incredible gift in our faith is we are not going at this alone or the first to have questions. There are more than two-thousand years of people much smarter than me who have asked these philosophical, theological, and moral questions and have discovered incredible answers.
Our study can first be in the form of books. Matthew Kelly says, “You become the books you read.” So tell me the last five books you’ve read, and I will tell you who you are becoming. Dynamic Catholic offers a ton of books and CDs for free, you just pay shipping. One lent we ordered every book they offered in this program to build our Catholic library and be able to grow ourselves and gift others these resources. Our favorite books on leadership, parenting, setting your faith on fire and spiritual resources can be found here.
But it’s also what we are watching, listening to, and filling our downtime with. What we zone out to and watch to relax affects us. What music, articles, images, and social media we enjoy. It forms our conscience, and either strengthens our intellect and will or helps us rationalize our addictions. We love watching and listening to things on Formed.org, if you haven’t checked it out, it’s like Netflix for Catholics!
Ultimately, we need to keep searching for truth and know that he too is searching for you. Because the truth is a person, Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
We are providing these videos to help form your intellect. To learn more about this watch the video below.
Train The Intellect
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