Spiritual Myopia

A malformed conscience in adulthood distorts all reality


Faith Virtue

Inadequate nutrition afflicted many children in the WWII years, due to food rationing. At an early age I developed myopia, and I suspect poor nutrition partly caused it. Evidence is mounting that this vision problem is growing around the world, with recent estimates at 30% and forecasts that by 2050 half the world will be myopic. In Japan, it’s upwards of 80%. Anthropologists found a significant shift between 1977 and 2000 toward myopia in Australian aboriginals adopting modern diets. They may be losing their “super sight,” which is six times better at spotting stars in the sky.

Myopia results from malformed, elliptical-shaped eyes focusing images in front of the retina. What reaches the brain is a scattered blur. Researchers have blamed the lack of vitamin E during the early years. Vitamin E is found in natural foods like nuts, seeds, and whole grains that most people aren’t eating these days—keeping optometrists busy. Myopia grows alongside consumption of empty processed foods.

Each of us is equipped at birth with another sort of vision: spiritual insight, which requires moral edification during our formative years. Mother Church obliges parents, along with godparents, to ensure Christian education of their children. Without such guidance, children can’t learn discernment, sacrifice for others, and loving forgiveness. A malformed conscience in adulthood is like an uncorrected myopia that distorts all reality.

Unless someone cares, like devoted and virtuous parents or a good spiritual director, subtle errors in perception remain undetected. Such victims of weak Catholic upbringing will not realize they see the world in a blur. Far-reaching visions and beatific concepts will be rejected as imprecise and vague, while only sensual and immediate objects fill the view. Heaven and the saints will appear beyond their visual range and reach.

Is there some way to cure this spiritual disease, as glasses can correct myopia? Yes. Scripture, the sacraments, contemplative retreats, fasting, and prayer can remedy feeble spiritual formation.

This is why I speak to them in parables: Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving” (Matt 13:13-14).


Richard M. DellOrfano spent ten years on a cross-country pilgrimage following Christ’s instruction to minister without possessions. He is completing his autobiography: Path Perilous, My Search for God and the Miraculous.

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