The teleological mind

By: Fr. Roy Cimagala

The word “teleological” may sound Greek to us at the moment. And it should not surprise us, for true enough it is of Greek origin. But it actually refers to almost everything we usually do. Whenever we do something, we always have a reason or purpose for doing so. That is what being teleological means.

To have a teleological mind is to always have a purpose in all our actuations, or to refer things to the purpose, reason or end why they were done. It’s opposed to any attitude that makes us do things simply at random or without a purpose. That would be inhuman, to say the least.

To have a teleological mind can also mean that anything that happens is due to some purpose or design of things in general. Nothing happens by mere chance. Everything has a reason, no matter how unreasonable it may seem. To have a teleological mind always refers us to the end or purpose of things.

It presumes there is already an overall design in the universe under which everything is governed. Yes, including our free human acts that can go any which way. These acts would still fall under some law or design that can explain why we acted in a particular way.

This truth is expressed in the Book of Ecclesiastes when it talked about “vanity of vanities,” because whatever we do, even if we do them purely under our own will that can even be against God’s will, things are still under God’s law. There is nothing new under the sun, we are told.

It’s good to be more aware of the need to develop a teleological mind that goes all the way. We shouldn’t just do things with a short-term purpose or a long-term one. Neither should we do things with some earthly value in mind only, no matter how brilliant and legitimate it may be.

We should strive to do things with our final end in mind! And that is none other than to be with God in eternity, fully transformed into his image and likeness. This is our be-all and end-all. We should do things in view of eternity.

This isn’t an easy task. It will require all our resources, plus the grace of God. But we can always start somewhere. The important thing is we start and do something about it.

First of all, we need to activate our faith, because without it our overall vision would simply be earth-and-time-bound. Faith takes us to another level of reality where we have a chance to be in communion with God and the spiritual and supernatural realities.

With faith we have to exercise the virtue of hope given our earthly condition of still being a work in progress where we have to do our part in completing with God our own creation and redemption. Then, our faith is perfected in charity.

That we are meant for God and for the spiritual and supernatural realities can be explained by the fact that we have the capacity to know and love with our intelligence and will. These human faculties are not meant to be used only on natural things alone.

With our intelligence and will we have the capacity to be elevated to the supernatural order of God. This is what is called the “obediential potency” of our intelligence and will which can get actualized when we receive and correspond to the grace of God.

To have a teleological mind is to always refer ourselves to God in everything that we do or in everything that happens to us. He is our final end, and no matter how mysterious he is to us, we just have to try to refer everything to him.