Monday, December 10, 2012
Synopsis of Holy Father's Catechesis for Nov. 21
As our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, continues his catechesis in this Year of Faith he continues and deepens his reflection on man’s deep down desire for God. He begins by reminding us that it is God who takes the initiative in enlightening and guiding us and thus revealing Himself to us. However, He also respects our free-will and thus He invites us into the intimacy of a relationship with Him. Pope Benedict quotes St. Augustine, as he will several times throughout this catechesis: “it is not we who seek or possess the Truth, but the Truth that seeks us out and posses us.”
Pope Benedict next recognizes that while there are paths within the human heart, signs that lead to God, there are also many road blocks. The first of these is the allurements of the world. He assures us that regardless of these God ceaselessly looks for us because of His love for us. He tells us that ‘this is a certainty that must accompany us each and every day, even if certain widespread mentalities make it increasingly difficult for the Church and the Christian to communicate the joy of the Gospel…and lead all to an encounter with Jesus, the one Savior of the world.”
Our Holy Father next recognizes that there are a number of obstacles to finding God. He identifies a number of forms of atheism coming from many different avenues of thought and experience. However, he singles out a particular form which is particularly troubling in those societies wherein the faith was at one time well rooted and a driving force within society. He calls this form of atheism “practical atheism”. By this he means a situation whereby people do “not deny the truths of faith or religious rituals, but simply considers them irrelevant to everyday existence….” He goes on to observe that “people believe in God in a superficial way, but live ‘as if God did not exists’”. He points out that “by obscuring reference to God (in our everyday lives), the ethical horizon is also obscured, to make room for relativism and an ambiguous conception of freedom, which instead of being liberating ends up binding man to idols.”
Pope Benedict connects these “idols” to those experienced by Christ in His temptation in the wilderness. It is necessary that, like Christ, we look beyond ourselves and, in placing God at the center of our lives find ourselves in right relationship with Him and with all of creation. In quoting the Second Vatican Council’s Gaudium et Spes (19) he reminds that our human dignity is found precisely in our communion with God. He sums up the antidote to these idols in three words: the world, man, and faith.
First of all he reminds us of the teaching of St. Augustine that it is precisely in the beauty of the created world that we begin to perceive the beauty of Him who made them and Who, unlike creation, is possessed of an eternal beauty unlike the passing beauty of the created world. Pope Benedict also quotes Albert Einstein who said that the laws of nature “reveal such a superior reason that all reational thought and human law is but a very insignificant reflection by comparison”.
Second, we can recognize the call of God in our very heart. Unfortunately, we live in the midst of noise and distraction. Thus, in order to allow the voice of God to be heard we need to develop the ability to stop and take a deep and honest look within.
Finally, faith is identified as “an encounter with God who speaks and acts in history and which converts our daily life, transforming our mentality, system of values, choices and actions. It is not illusion, escapism, a comfortable shelter, sentimentality, but involvement in every aspect of life….” Thus, we need to make room in our hearts and our lives for God to reveal Himself to us.
I hope that we will all take these words to heart. The New Evangelization of our society is dependant on Christians themselves living our lives in, with, through, and for God. In so doing, not only will we experience a renewal of grace in our own lives, but we will become even more effective witnesses to God’s presence and activity in His creation.
Remember who you are and pray well!