Life can be challenging at times. We can feel overwhelmed by the burdens we face, especially the decisions we must make and the consequences that come with them. The good news is that we are not alone as we journey through life. We have the Holy Spirit to guide us! Even though we may feel like we do not have the tools needed to complete our mission on Earth, the Holy Spirit does, and He will help us.
We live in an indoctrinated age of novelty and dissatisfaction. We are always looking ahead to what is new and then find ourselves achingly tired with it only moments after its arrival. With this comes the growth in the popularity of various trends in the staple aspects of human life, such as parenting, education, governance, and even art.
This flight toward novelty has disconnected us from the older traditions, isolating modern humankind from the wisdom of the past, developed from minds that ruminated and prayed over the nature of humanity and the many aspects that make up our human life.
Some today, however, seek the wisdom of the ages and the truths discovered long before us and handed down through time. Particularly in the Church’s tradition, we have a storehouse of treasures to explore and share in aiding humanity down the complex and narrow path. And it is good for us to continue in this program of returning to the wisdom of the ages and updating it as we renew our understanding of the riches found within the teachings of the Church. However, due to the rigid break of our modern society with much of tradition’s guiding lessons, we must depend upon the power and loving guidance of the Holy Spirit to honestly know what is right and wrong.
Why We Need Wisdom from the Past
While I do tend to romanticize past ages—and of course, there are teachings from the past generations that should be ignored—there has been much ground covered in advancing the human person along the path to virtue and living a most satisfactory and sanctified life. Imagine the crowds of people who have walked this planet who have been worthy philosophers and theologians with a solid bite on reality. How can one best benefit from their efforts? We remember much of what they said, and we do our best to apply and live the wisdom they have advanced so that we can find the destination of perfect beatitude toward which their guidance directs us.
If I were more creative and organized, I would write a book to give an image to this idea in the style of C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien. I imagine something like: “A far-off land in which dwells a tribe of human-like creatures whose youth on the cusp of maturity must make a journey through forests, across lakes and rivers, to the top of a mountain and return home. They are each given a map drawn and added to by the many who have made the journey before them. Some follow the map and, even amidst peril and difficulties, succeed! Others, choosing their directions and methods of travel, find only great loss.”
I see in this image an allegory for our age. How beneficial it is to listen to the wisdom of God, spoken both before and after the first Christmas. We have been given a map to follow to reach our Heavenly destination and the happiness seeking such a place brings.
The Island of Modernity
Unfortunately, there have been great strides in closing the door on such a map, keeping its legend and markings at a distance. Whether in the name of progress or to gain the appearance of cleverness, many of us have put forward our ideologies and hypotheses regarding human life that either confuse or contradict the proper teachings from the past.
Furthermore, there seem to be some who like to make maps without looking to those who have gone before us. Some might look out onto the horizon and make their own conjectures, leading us astray, not to find our goal but something far less satisfying.
Humanity has done this in many ways today to lead us to a place where we should ask ourselves if we want to be. Furthermore, in cutting ourselves off from the wisdom of the past, we have set up a new tradition, a tradition of no tradition, in which the opposite of knowledge, foolishness, is handed down.
What Can We Do
There is great hope for finding what we truly seek for those of us who have remained connected with the past—maybe we even keep a long ago received map in our nightstands. At Baptism, each Christian is recreated into a Temple of the Holy Spirit where the Spirit dwells within us. It is in our hearts, the little room where we can close the door and pray in secret, that the Holy Spirit abides and guides us.
We can trust in the Holy Spirit. We must condition ourselves in silence and spend time with Him to know His call, but we can go to the Spirit to learn how to cut through any poor formation we have received. We can trust that the Holy Spirit will be there to make us like God and be to the world what we are meant to be.
We must not expect the Holy Spirit’s work to look the same in each of us. We are the many parts of the body, and He knows what is in store for each of us. Just like the same sun has a different effect on the many other creatures of the Earth, so too will the mighty fire of the Holy Spirit have a different impact on each of us.
Trust The Holy Spirit and the Map We Are Given
We will overcome anything with the Holy Spirit and learn God’s Wisdom. We have been given the map. Therefore, let us take upon ourselves the task of following what has been handed down to us from the past and leaving fruitful and faithful witness for those in the future.