Holy Family

Holy Family

Friday, August 5, 2011

Feast of Our Lady of the Snows

Good morning. We live in an age of self-worship. In marriage we find this self- worship lived out with spouses treating one another as objects and not as equally gifted children of God. The pursuit of love becomes a pursuit of self. Where it involves openness to life and family we have couples opting to limit the number of offspring measuring their ‘choice’ for children by materialistic values. “We would prefer to have just one, but we we’ll have a second child just in case.” “We don’t want to ask them to share.” “We want them to have everything they want.” With religious we encounter challenges to traditional monastic rule, describing the Rule of Saint Benedict as being “dull’ and ‘one-dimensional”, and warped feminist suggestions that the Gospel serves but a “select few.” Laura Swan, Prioress and author, in Engaging Benedict: What the Rule Can Teach Us Today offers an interesting twist to the monasticism I came to learn about (What ever became of Imprimaturs?). She offers a very angry, bitter view of the church. We encounter, despite the shepherding of church leadership, religious communities venturing forth into areas of self-discovery, such as Reiki and mindfulness. To be equal, we now reside in monasteries instead of convents. Obedience to the magisterium is interpreted as how it fits with one’s own perspective. Throughout varied walks of life we find people forming their day-to-day decisions and actions based upon a mindset which views the self versus God as being the center of it all. Throughout there is a felt sense of anger and entitlement, a sense of self-pity, a diminished sense of being part of something more, there is a lacking sense of otherism; there is instead an overwhelming concern with one's own interests. A clear illustration of this is seen within social networking; it is less about networking with others and more about getting others to network with me. Even from amongst the pews there seems to be a pervasive theme of building a worldly kingdom instead of a Godly Kingdom. Today’s readings offer clear warning regarding this. In the first reading from Deuteronomy we find Moses telling the Israelite people that to make a success of their life they need to love the Lord and keep His commandments versus serving “other gods”; whatever ‘choice’ they make will determine whether their life will be blessed or cursed. The Gospel for today (CAUTION! my interpretation may perhaps be “compromised” and sexist) warns us of putting worldly concerns above Building the Kingdom of God. Blessed Pope John Paul II, in his visit to America in 1979, noted this tendency to allow our lives to be driven by selfishness; he said "The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort, and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish…." Unfortunately, we have strayed from any understanding of living for the good of all. The mantra for today’s culture has become “What about me” or in the words of Peter Kreeft in his essay The Pillars of Unbelief—Sartre, "This town ain't big enough for both you and me. One of us has to leave." We cannot serve two masters; it is either the world or God. Again, in the words of Peter Kreeft, our society has been overtaken with a sense of selfishness, there is “no self without selfishness.” In our selfishness God has become that thing we go visit on our way to where we truly want to be. It is this selfishness which offers explanation for the attrition in sacramental marriages—there were more Catholic Marriages in 1950 than in 2002. If we want priests we need to be about promoting marriage. My former boss, Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger offers some insight into this situation, “Without the sacrament of marriage we do not have the other six sacraments.” Today’s Gospel is ‘Spot-On’ regarding this self-indulgence we see in today’s culture. The absorption with self in marriage, for that matter within society in general, leaves no room for respect and appreciation for others, or for the common good of the marriage (or society in general). We cannot serve two masters; it is either the world or God. Paul Vitz offers us a clear understanding of where this mindset of selfishness is directing us in his book Psychology as Religion: The Cult of Self-WorshipHe concisely spells out for us that to direct our lives in a direction apart from God, from the source of life is self-destructive. To live and serve God we must, in the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II, seek to find God in one another; we must come to know that “God is revealed in the communion between man and woman, for this communion images the love that God himself is.” Where is love? Look to your spouse. Make a great day.

Today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Snows. Through the intercession of our Lady of the Snows may we come to know the Love that is God Himself revealed in each other. There is a national shrine to Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois.

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