On Knowledge and Ignorance


Many a time we would hear that while knowledge is power to some there are those who use their lack of it as an excuse as if their ignorance were carefully planned and living that way was a difficult decision that they had to make and only with incisive disposition that they were able to choose wisely and great effort to succeed on being ignorant, for knowing, to them, creates accountability and that they cannot afford to have. In truth, their ignorance is a product of plain laziness: of not wishing to proceed any further where learning becomes an effort. 

On the other hand, for those who believe that knowledge is power, desiring too much can be just as dangerous and unfruitful. Among other things it is possible that one might regard knowing as an end. And that to me is far more tragic because when we have exhausted the little time our sins had left us of our life our Lord will not ask us what we know but what we did.

We have to learn how to balance ourselves. And this we can do not by avoiding the extremity of both ignorance and wisdom but by learning the ways in which these two realities of our intellect can invite from us the virtues that, in the first place, is the main purpose of the state of our being and the gifts, of intellect and freewill, that we received.

Frank Sheed, in his book, Theology for Beginners, when told that some Irishman saying his rosary is holier than he is, with all his study he replied,  

I hope he is. But if the only evidence is that he knows less theology than I, then it is evidence that would convince neither him nor me. It would not convince him, because all those rosary-loving, tabernacle-loving Irishmen I have ever known were avid for more knowledge of the faith. It does not convince me, because while it is obvious that an ignorant man can be virtuous, it is equally obvious that ignorance is not a virtue…

He continued,

“…men have been martyred who could not have stated a doctrine of the Church correctly, and martyrdom is the supreme proof of love. Yet with more knowledge of God they would have loved him more still.”

And here is the most important part:

“Knowledge does serve love. It serves love in one way by removing misunderstandings which are in the way of love…because each new thing learned and meditated about God is a new reason for loving him”.

To this I add that it is in the awareness of what we do not know that invites humility of the heart. And through that humility we realize our dependency to our Lord and through that dependence we unlock the gates of our hearts to charity. A love that is forever growing as we gain knowledge of things and ways we can love Him more and reasons why we love Him. Not that we need reasons to love but we are to be reminded that more than anything else we are created in His image and likeness, that He gave us intellect so that we may know Him, and freewill to love Him.

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