‘We live in interesting times’ so says a Chinese proverb. And we do indeed! As many people today as there are diverse backgrounds almost sound unison in admitting that today’s world is as confused as the number of products available in the market. Is this good or bad? Well, I think it depends on how you look at it even from a simple cost-benefit analysis. Why do people do what they do? A logical reason is they are out to attain what is good for them. Which brings us to another point. What then is man’s highest good as he seems to stumble from one claimed good to another?
That a superior being created all that you see is no longer a myth. If you did not know this, then you must have missed out on many publications reporting that even agnostic scientists and renowned atheists have acknowledged the existence of an intelligibility that is far superior to any intelligence claimed by man whose reach only goes as far as what he can sense and measure. In short, the existence of this intelligibility we call God is now a given. But let us say that you are one of those skeptics who rarely believe unless there is something in it for them, like the godfather role played by Al Pacino. In one of the final scenes, the future Pope challenges him to convert to the Christian faith before it was too late. When invited to Confession, the aging godfather says it was of no use as his sins could not be forgiven. The road to perdition was his. To this the Cardinal replied: ‘I heard you are a practical man. What have you got to lose?’ The godfather then confessed and choked on his tears as he did. But he most probably did the right thing.
When people shout ‘separation of church and state’ so people in the latter can keep on sinning and not be reminded of their sins, the claimed demarcation is I think all the more testimony that it should not be there at all. When people go to mass, it is not so they can separate themselves from the world according to the demarcation. Going to mass is done precisely so that people can go back into the world strengthened by their faith to do good and avoid sin found in the world.
I go back to my earlier point. If man struggles to survive in the world, what then is his highest good? I think this is a very important question. I for one would like to know what it is so that I can prioritize my time and effort towards this end. Is it wealth? Being rich is good as it will allow me to buy all the goods my heart desires. But wealth does not last and even the wealthy claim that it does not bring true joy. Is it power? Many pursue power as it is a life of entitlement. But even power fails to last and the powerful are not the happiest people around despite what they are or have. Is it honor? But honor only lasts for a while and soon one is forgotten. Is it pleasure? Same thing. Pleasure lasts only for a moment then it is gone. The pleasurable are not the happiest persons around. Thus, people seek wealth, power, honor, and pleasure more and more only to get frustrated. Truth is that these are not our highest good. Only God is. Why? Because God is the source of all that is good the highest of which is charity or love. All that are good are derivatives of this highest virtue called love and all are from God. God is our highest good as written by St. Thomas Aquinas. And as St. Augustine says: ‘Our hearts are restless until they rest in God.’ All that are ordered to God find their true place in life. All not in communion with Him scatter as they find themselves in disorder.
Given this and man’s search for his good, is there really still a divide between what is secular and spiritual? I think not. All individuals and all organizations seek success which is something positive if it is ordered to God. For instance, industries manufacture and distribute man’s needs for food, shelter, security, safety, etc. The security industry enables the environment that allows industries to flourish. Etc. These are all goods that are ordered to God, the source of our highest good. Meanwhile, crime and terrorism are those that are disordered and therefore not aligned with the Source of all good. Our behavior and those of others, if ordered to the common good, only manifest that we are ordered to God, the source of all that is good. We have been spiritual all along without being too fussy about it.