Ideas affect us. Bad ideas affect us for the worse. Like smoke in the air, they make it hard to see things as they really are, and breathing them in makes us sick. We’re bombarded with smoke from every direction on a daily basis. It’s unavoidable. We breathe in the fumes of utilitarianism, Marxism, consumerism, rationalism, emotivism and other mindsets. They don’t even belong together. Utilitarians despise consumerism, consumerists detest Marxism, and Marxists don’t like anything very much, yet all these ideas mix to form a noxious, pervasive cloud that makes the sky gray. We breathe them all in and they nauseate us. Internal tensions and philosophical contradictions abound.
The smoke is a result of original sin. It’s hard to avoid, but it can be cleared up. The grace of baptism introduces us into the life of faith and enables us to see the world in the light of Christ. Jesus, in addition to giving us the Sacraments, also gave the Church many holy teachers who help us distinguish between the smoke and the light. Their holy study from the heart of the Church gives us wisdom. Clear, wise thinking cuts through the smoke and enables us to judge our implicit ideas according to the Gospel. It takes humility to realize that one has been mentally picturing everything on the wrong terms. It’s easy to fall into thinking of human relationships as economic exchanges or assuming that everyone only has self-serving intentions. Realizing that these are errors based on particular false philosophies makes the truth evident and shows us where we need to grow in charity.
The spiritual life is a process of cleansing. When the truths of faith penetrate our minds, we do not live in the same way. Christ, the way, the truth, and the life, cuts through the smog, gives us pure hearts, and lets us see things as they are. Creation is good. Every human being is made in the image of God and deserves to be seen as such. God providentially works through every circumstance for the salvation of souls. The seven Sacraments give eternal gifts and their font of living water brings souls to God every day. With minds made clean by Christ’s light, we not only see the clear blue sky—we perceive the radiance of the faintest stars.