Some things that happen in our lives don’t leave a great deal behind them. They just happen. Then they are gone. There might be some small indentation in the real lives that we live, but nothing that is profound.
When we say that something matters, it means that there is an intrinsic importance to the person or event that has or should have lasting value.
Recently, there has been a movement in the political life of our nation called ‘Black Lives Matter’ to address the devaluing of a whole group of people based solely on skin color.
Thus, when we say someone or something ‘matters’, we mean that they are important and not to be dismissed as insignificant. Something that matters usually has long lasting importance.
Some of this difficulty has arisen based on assumptions that are enshrined in our way of governing. In order to safeguard religion and prevent the government in interfering in the free exercise of faith, the framers of the Constitution erected a separation between the affairs of the Church and that of the government. This also allowed a tolerance for all religions, even the smallest in number.
This seems like a good solution; but one of the unintended consequences of this way to doing things is the eventual privatization of religion. Since religion has become something private and personal, we keep it and God out of the discourse of politics and the common future of our lives. This has put God in a secondary role in our lives and made it at best inappropriate and at worst forbidden to even mention God (except in the harmless: God bless America!)
This increasing marginalization of God and His influence in our daily lives with its manifold conflicts and concerns removes a consciousness of His continual presence in our day and the import that the smallest things have to our daily lives. It confines the presence of God to the Church and to Mass and to sermons and to the limited sphere of the manifestly religious, thereby freeing (condemning?) our lives to a godless sphere of politics, family, and employment whose only regulators are our politicians, the media, and the daily events in our family’s life.
In this godless desert, we look for signs that can tell us what the direction of our lives should be; and when something dramatic occurs, such as an illness in ourselves or in someone we love, we are left with just the medical world to help us get through things, irrespective of the eternal dimensions and consequences of the significant and outstanding things that happen to us.
As we suffer, for instance, with an illness, there is no connection with the suffering of Christ nor the place of suffering in the redemption of the world. As we sit in the waiting room of the specialist we are consulting with, there are no reminders of Calvary nor of the theology of the Cross that has so influenced the history of spirituality in our ecclesial tradition.
In a word, the ouster of God from the mundane things of our daily life is an impoverishment of meaning. It is a life drained of the eternal consequences of our everyday decisions and occurrences. This state of affairs is all around us and it is so pervasive that it does not even register on our observances of life. The God-dimension of things is so far removed that we don’t even know what we have lost.
This weakening of the breadth and depth of perception is a God-send (excuse the irony) for philosophers, politicians, and pundits who no longer have to grapple with what God wants but can blithely invent their own realities irrespective of whether or not they are grounded in objectivity.
Thus, in confronting an essentially moral question, like ‘When does human life begin?’, these unmoored individuals can say whatever is expedient without checking with reality or the purposes of God in revelation. Since the god they believe in will fit into whatever they devise, they can say and do what they will since they believe in a god who does not matter to their arguments nor to the world as they conceive it.
This may seem to be a liberation from religious constraint; but in the end, it is a breakdown in the totality of meaning of the daily realities of life. These daily realities include the spiritual purpose of the material. In fact, the spiritual foundation of earthly reality is not just an added characteristic of life, but its very basis and meaning.
By positing a god who does not matter, our society condemns itself to partial and inconclusive answers to life’s important questions. They think they come to logical conclusions, but they can be very wrong since they are built on the sand of popular opinion and not on the revelation of God, which is the ultimate security for our endeavors and plans.
In summary: we remain lost even though we think we are found.