Can I Trust My Own Eyes?

Français : La Conscience (d'après Victor Hugo)

Français : La Conscience (d’après Victor Hugo)

I have a peculiar type of Juvenile Macular Degeneration that does not get worse but is hereditary. It is interesting in that I never knew that I had this condition in my right eye until 2007. I was sitting in a sales conference room and noticed that a chart that had horizontal lines all appeared to be wavy lines though I knew that they were straight lines. Thinking that I might have had a mild stroke I first went to an eye doctor and then to a retina specialist where I was diagnosed.

I was told that I had probably had this all of my life. Now that is interesting because I had never experienced this abnormal vision before. The doctor says that our brains will compensate for this and give us a view that matches our memories and our preference. I apparently was taking information from my good eye and rejecting the information from my bad eye.

Sure enough as soon as I quit worrying about the eye problem, I once again was seeing as I always had: normally without wavy lines. Now this brings up an interesting question in the real world and in the spiritual realm as well: can I believe my own eyes?

Well obviously if I knew that my eye was giving incorrect vision, I would say no. But if I thought it was a sound eye I would say yes. However, now that this eye condition is known to me, I see how even if the eye is conveying to my brain the information that it is actually seeing, the brain, completely on its own, is modifying the information to meet my expectations and not the reality that is being given to it.

Now isn’t that like a poorly formed conscience? We know deep in our souls that we have sinned and that we are engaged in things that are not healthy spiritually. But we find ways to cope with our guilty conscience by rationalizing that the sin is not really a sin or that it is completely in accord with the standards of the world. We no longer see reality as it is. We have played mental games to make our reality fit the True Reality which Christ has placed in our conscience; or which He is willing to place in our conscience if we would only let Him.

This, I think, is a very great problem that we face when we do a normal examination of conscience. We tend to block out things that we have been able to compensate for with some pretty fancy mental gymnastics. We get up and say, “Great! No mortal sin on my soul.” Maybe you can trust your inner eyes and your brain but maybe you can’t.

This is why it is so very important to deepen our prayer life to the extent that we examine ourselves, not with our eyes, but with the Light that comes from the Eyes of Christ. How else will we ever truly know ourselves?

If I can’t trust my own eyes in the real world, what makes me think that I can trust my inner eyes in the spiritual realm?

Maybe we all have a hereditary form of Juvenile Macular Degeneration of the Spiritual Order and we have brains that fictitiously manufacture good images to alleviate any anxiety or guilt. I think it’s called the hereditary effects of Original Sin. I’m just saying . . .

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9 thoughts on “Can I Trust My Own Eyes?

  1. Confession!!! Often is the word.

    I spoke with Catholic Nomad via email. She is a wonderful writer. I hope she’s back soon. I miss her work.

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  2. Your condition contrasts with my analogy of viewing a stained glass window at different times of the day and night. The sunlight, or lack thereof, provides us with a different view at all times. Yet, no matter the time, each view is reality and truth. One who sees the window at dawn sees an entirely different impression than the window I see at sunset. Both of us trust our inner eyes in the spiritual realm.
    Sorry about your condition and hope it improves. Add my prayers to those for The Catholic Nomad.

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