Gaudium et Spes, the Intellect, the Truth, and Wisdom.
The next section of Gaudium et Spes is about the dignity of Intellect, of Truth, and of Wisdom. Christianity has always been in the world with Greek Philosophy. Even the Galilee where Jesus was born and did most of his preaching was a heavily Hellenized part of Second Temple Israel. We have always incorporated and challenged philosophy as a religion. It’s no wonder therefore, that Intellect is important to Roman Catholicism.
The document says, “Men and women, sharing in the light of the divine mind, rightly affirm that by their intellect they surpass the world of mere things.” The human person has the great gift and responsibility of being the consciousness of our planet… perhaps the whole universe, as we don’t know if there is other sentient life out there or not. The human mind is capable of seeing and making meaning of the world. It doesn’t stop with the senses, though. It is with intellect that we grasp at unseen parts of our world as well. It is this part of the human person which can discern God’s call. Someone who doesn’t believe there is anyone there to give a call can’t understand this intellectual grasp of things unseen. Science is good. But it isn’t everything and can’t understand everything.
“Wisdom… gently draws the human mind to look for and to love what is true and good.” While we can’t always tell what is true or good in our world, we know to look for it. My whole vocation story, I think, is this searching for the Good and True. It isn’t just the intellect, though, or at least not intellect defined by knowledge. We know in other ways. The emotional response and the gut instinctual response are both important ways of knowing. We know this to be true. If only the intellect could draw us to God then those with diminished minds couldn’t know God and we know this is not the case. I can’t intellectually tell you why I joined the Capuchins. I didn’t reason myself into a vocation. If I had reasoned myself here, I could reason myself out. If I had only come here because it felt good, and it does feel good, then another strong emotional experience could pull me away. It is in my gut, though, my intuition, that I know I’m in the right place and that in Religious life is where I’ll discover the True and the Good. Knowing is what we are created to do. It’s our heritage and gift as human beings.
(Both images are care of WikiCommons. The first is a fractal and the second is an image of Wisdom by Titian)