The world is in disarray in large part because we have become a civilization of idol worshippers. The never-ending pursuit of more money, better homes, everlasting leisure, career advancement, political dominance, greater celebrity, religious indifference, and a lack of a clear Christian identity are clouding our ability to sit in the silence where we can know God and sapping us of our strength to follow His path and His path alone.
Pope Francis refers to this phenomenon in number 13 of chapter one (nos. 8-22) in his encyclical Lumen Fidei. To put the language a little more plainly:
(1) We place ourselves at the center of reality.
(2) We worship our own work.
(3) We lose the basic orientation of life.
(4) We live according to our own desires.
(5) We stop listening to God.
(6) We stop following His will for our life.
(7) We start living life as a series of unconnected instants.
(8) Our life goes nowhere.
Man’s lust for the nothingness of idol worship is a vital point in this encyclical on faith. It causes him to live a life made up of individual moments that involve work, family activities, leisure (lots of it), and perhaps, even time for Church-going. In other words, man is so good at compartmentalizing his life that he has effectively surgically removed God as the foundation, the summit, the structure, and the very focus of his life. Simply put, modern man has reduced God to one small box in his life’s storeroom from which he chooses on a whim.
Pope Francis seeks to remind all of mankind, but especially those who already claim to believe that we are called in faith by the Holy Spirit to worship the one Christ, Jesus, as children before our creator, the Father of us all. To put his language a little more plainly again:
(1) Faith is the opposite of idolatry.
(2) Faith is a conversion.
(3) Faith is a personal encounter with God.
(4) Faith is entrusting ourselves to God’s merciful love.
(5) Faith is allowing God to make straight the crooked lines of our history.
(6) Faith is a willingness to be transformed.
(7) Faith stabilizes us and liberates us from sin and idols.
With faith, then, man opens himself to a Divine Love and a Divine Knowledge that correctly grounds and orients his life. As Pope Francis wrote: “The Christian can see with the eyes of Jesus and share in His mind, His filial disposition, because he or she shares in his love, which is the Spirit” (no.21). Thus, consistency and constancy in faith enables man to turn away from a life of “unconnected instants” toward a life lived in the stable fullness of God Himself.
So, during this Year of Faith, ask yourself: do I understand how I give myself over to idols? Do I live an unconnected life? Do I live a life of faith?
Let us pray for one another that we may live our lives in the light of faith.