Splitting Hairs and Finding Our Only Hope


September 9  

My husband and I graduated from a college renowned for offering only a bachelor’s in Liberal Arts. Counting out credit hours and such, we alumni like to say that we’ve majored in philosophy and theology and minored in math. Personally, I am decidedly skeptical regarding the math (*grin). While the theology has been immensely helpful, the philosophy background we received has been absolutely invaluable. I actually joke and tell people that I have a degree in hair-splittingthe most accurate term, in my opinion, of this misunderstood art. 

Most philosophical questions almost always admit of the somewhat ambiguous answer of, “In a way yes, and in a way no.” For a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, know-it-all, incoming freshman, that is a highly unsatisfying answer, and it gets frustratingly old rather quickly. Despairingly, a student could easily think, then what on earth is the point? But therein lies the path forward—the path to understanding. While the answer may be, “In a way yes, in a way no,” the question then becomes, “How?” “How, in what way, is it yes?” and also, “How, in what way, is it no?” The answer lies on both sides of the thinnest of hairs.

All of humanity seem to be up in arms about a myriad of topics, and at times, even in violent opposition to each other. How can this be? How can human beings, made in the image and likeness of God, with equally rational souls and intellects, come to such vastly opposed conclusions based on the same set of circumstances?

While there may be an issue of differing first principles, most of it comes down to philosophy class and that maddening “In a way yes, in a way no” answer. The ways and hows of our yeses and nos are what differ and lead us to opposing views. If we take the time to sift through it all, we will discover quite a bit of common ground. And then maybe true dialogue can begin. 

Unfortunately, many do not take the time to do this sifting and simply allow others to reason for them. This leads them to begin to identify a person as being their truth, and not Truth itself. This is dangerous because, quite simply, creatures are fallible and prone to sin. 

Our eyes and hearts must be fixed on Christ and the tradition and infallible teachings of our Catholic Faith. Under the umbrella of obedience to that faith, we can love all mankind by seeking justice and mercy and salvation for all. We can be open to dialogue and seek common ground with those with whom we may disagree. We can hear them out and build a bridge. And charity must reign. These acts of charity will plant a seed, for God desires salvation for all of his creatures, not just the ones we may deem worthy. 

As mothers, our job is to bring our domestic church to this “fullness of charity.” It can be quite a struggle. I find that sometimes I need to push through any hurt feelings, indignation, or anger, and force my heart and mind to be charitable and merciful. And oftentimes that “push” actually needs to be quite a rough shove—but the breakthrough always, always brings peace. Teaching, and, above all, modeling this for our children is of the utmost importance. Especially in these times. Placing all of our hope in the Lord. Winning souls for Christ. Because sometimes salvation can be found within a hair’s breadth.

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