FAITH AND CULTURE | Acting in the Spirit

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An advantage of our technological world is the ability to engage almost any subject and quickly learn about it. We've grown accustomed to finding things at will, and become uncomfortable when online searches don't yield the desired information. What used to remain unknown or a mystery, now is met with technological searches satisfying our impulses, curiosity and thirst for knowledge.

It isn't unusual to have a conversation in which an unanswered question promptly triggers a "Let me Google that." The idea that a question remains unanswered often feels irresponsible or naive, especially in light of the immensity of accessible data.

More than ever, we live in a cultural age that provides all kinds of information — from the most mundane to the most sublime. This plethora of knowledge and unfiltered facts have in many cases proven to be practical and helpful, such as how-to advice on home repair projects or self-care.

While the breadth and depth of material available is indeed encyclopedic and impressive, what seems lacking are the tools to discern accurately what should be trusted. We're keenly aware of the dangers and problems that result from blindly following someone else's advice or attempting to apply quick solutions. And we know that accumulation of data can't make up for the virtue of prudence.

Furthermore, the propensity to approach life's questions pragmatically doesn't always transfer well to other dimensions of our lives that are more subtle and nuanced. Intuitively, we recognize that human development requires more than the immediacy to technological improvements and successes. Life can be complex and, at times, paradoxical.

Yet, in the midst of all the human progress and scientific advances, we detect the need to step back and reflect more intentionally about the elements of mystery and surprise that are part of our complex lives. Through personal experiences and life in community, we see how the mystery of life demand more sober, alert and prudent dispositions.

And in our day-to-day living, we encounter moments of unimaginable surprises. Music, literature and paintings, for example, transport our mundane human spirit to what is most good, true and beautiful; and, in this manner, connect us to something far more transcendent and bigger than ourselves.

For us Christians, this way of living beyond the nearness of the technological and purely pragmatic is to come closer to the mystery of wisdom in the Spirit. In our spirituality, we have experienced moments of profound insight and guidance. "May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of Him" (Ephesians 1:17).

In faith, we know that the questions we have are ultimately related to the Spirit of generosity, guiding our every step. "So I say to you: 'Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you ... How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!'" (Luke 11: 9, 13).

Only by asking in trust and acting in the Spirit can our deepest desires, questions and curiosity find genuine rest and direction. Let us continue to pray for a spirit of discernment, knowing that God will always provide.

Orozco is executive director of intercultural and interreligious affairs for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. 

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