SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

How Can We Know the Way to God? (Part II of II)

May 18, 2015 by  
Filed under Fr. Bartunek, Loving God

Editor's Note: In Part I, we looked at the effects of a darkened mind and the coming of the Light. Today, we will reflect on the deepest questions and talk about the fullest answer to them. Here is the particular issue we are examining:

Dear Father John, I know the apostles ask Jesus this same question: How can we know the way? But, seriously, what if we want to go to God but we don't know how. How can we know the way?

The Deepest Questions

Who are we? Where do we come from? What is our purpose? What will make us truly happy? Why is there evil in the world? How can we live life to the full? What happens after death? How are we supposed to deal with the challenges and sufferings of life?

Mankind has posed these questions throughout its turbulent history. They are the basic questions of the human mind, because they respond to the fundamental human need and desire to know the truth–not just a few individual truths, like the laws of physics and the contents of our neighbor’s cupboards, but the truth, the way things are. Until we know that, or at least some key elements of it, we cannot be completely free to flourish as God means us to; our minds remain unfulfilled, groping in the dark.

Since human nature is always the same, these questions are always the same. Every epoch, every culture, every religion has to face them. We are compelled by our own nature to answer these questions somehow, for the good of our minds, just as we are compelled by our own nature to find food and shelter for the good of our bodies.

The Fullest Answer

This is the real reason why the different religions seem so similar when they are looked at from certain perspectives: They all seek to give answers to the same basic questions that come with our fallen human nature. And some of the answers that the different religions and philosophies offer contain shards of the truth, because our minds are made to find truth, and we can indeed find some truth through sincere searching. St. Paul also made this point in his discussion about the wickedness of idolatry:

For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them. Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse. (Romans 1:19—20)

JesusResurrectionCorbertGauthier2And yet, if our own efforts were sufficient, Jesus would never have had to come to give us his revelation. Only in that revelation do we have access to the fullness of truth that we crave and are created for, the truth that will free us from darkness and allow us to live life abundantly, now and for all eternity:

Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31—32)

As the Catechism instructs us, human reason unaided by the light of revelation will always remain, at some level, frustrated:

In the historical conditions in which he finds himself, however, man experiences many difficulties in coming to know God by the light of reason alone….This is why man stands in need of being enlightened by God’s revelation. (Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), paragraphs 37—38)

Learning to love God with all our mind–coming to know, understand, and accept deeply all that he has revealed to us about himself, ourselves, and the world–is the path out of that frustration. We cannot truly seek God’s kingdom without following it.

Editor’s Note: This is another excerpt from Father John Bartunek’s new book “Seeking First the Kingdom” filled with “practical examples and down-to-earth wisdom which will show you how to bring Christ into each facet of your life”. Click here to learn more about the book…or if you wish to get it for a friend or relative who doesn’t read on line.

Art: Resurrection, Corbert Gauthier, 2010, copyright, all rights reserved, used with permission.

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college, he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". His most recent books are "Spring Meditations", "Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength", and "Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions". Fr. John currently splits his time between Michigan (where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as a confessor and spiritual director at the Queen of the Family Retreat Center) and Rome, where he teaches theology at Regina Apostolorum. His online, do-it-yourself retreats are available at RCSpirituality.org, and he answers questions about the spiritual life at SpiritualDirection.com.

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