Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Synopsis of the Holy Father's Catechesis for November 14

     In his third catechesis for the Year of Faith our Holy Father, Pope Benedict reflects on how the desire for God is written into every human heart.  This is a wonderful and timely message for us today although, as he himself recognizes, modern man, and especially we in the western world, are too often forgetful of this truth to the point of being unaware even that there is a hole in our hearts waiting to be filled by God.  Our Holy Father reflects on the fact that this desire is “mysterious”, that is, it has been built into our very nature and yet we too often cannot pin it down to recognize what it is, or from where it has come.
     Pope Benedict quotes St. Augustine of Hippo when he says that “my heart is restless until it rests in you, O Lord.”  If we know of St. Augustine’s life we can see that it is a sterling example of how one can look in so many places, achieve so much in life, and still not find true peace and satisfaction.  This same Truth is reflected in the Old Testament book of Qoheleth (Ecclesiastes) wherein the “king” attempts to find satisfaction in learning/wisdom, in physical pleasure, and in absolute power.  Finally he recognizes that no one can contend with God.  I even recall a Beatles song about a man who had everything and yet committed suicide because of this enduring emptiness.
     Of course, I don’t think one has to look any farther than the average child up to about the sixth grade to see that there is indeed a desire for God planted in the human heart.  As I have experienced our children over my adult years I have far more often than not been able to stir in them this desire to know more about God.  I have experienced in my own ministry and have heard in the stories of others how our children get so excited when we tell them stories of God and of the saints.  This experience convinces me that there is indeed a desire for God planted deep within the human heart.
     Our Holy Father continues then to examine the reasons why this longing is so often pushed aside or explained away in our contemporary society – especially in the west.  He recognizes that, “[F]or large sectors of society He is no longer desired, expected, but rather a reality that leaves some indifferent and not even worth wasting one’s breath over.”  But then he goes on to examine those little clues, those very human experiences which open our hearts to the divine, to that which is outside ourselves.  He begins, very naturally with marriage and family life.
     He goes on to express a need for teaching ourselves and our children to have an “authentic taste for the joys of life”.  In this, he means those things which produce a “lasting satisfaction” in the heart and soul.
He recognizes in particular a need to re-acquire a taste for those joys which are found in “family, friendship, solidarity with those who suffer, renouncing of oneself to serve others, love for knowledge, for art, for the beauty of nature”.  He says that “this means exercising the inner taste and producing effective antibodies against today’s widespread trivialization and banalization. Adults also need to rediscover these joys, to desire authentic realities, purifying themselves of the mediocrity….”  He goes on to say that we must never “settle” for what has been achieved.  We must rather strive higher for the deeper good which will then reveal more and more to us that which is ultimately Good, True, and Beautiful.
     Pope Benedict recognizes that there are turns in the road of our human experience.  However, there is always also a way back to God who awaits us.  He also reminds us that we are not alone on this journey but that we are pilgrims on the way with “our brethren, our fellow travelers, even those who do not believe, those who are seeking.”  And he closes with the prayer that “in this year of faith, …God may show His face to all who seek Him with a sincere heart.”
     I can only say “AMEN!”
Remember who you are and pray well!

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