Part of the modern heresy in the world today is that of placing the human person at the very center of existence. Not just abstract ‘humanity’ but the individual ‘I’. Over and over again we get the message on earthly media that I am the most important person in the world. I deserve all the good (material) things of this life and that I should dedicate my whole life in pursuing my ‘dream’ of who I am and what I want to become.
We see this clearly in the athletic and the performing arts worlds. Athletes and Performers (Movies, music, etc.) are the new heroes that we ask our children to emulate. This may also extend to more justifiable examples for our youngsters: first responders, soldiers. But it is all the same goal of self- realization as the center of all meaning.
We often proclaim that modern ‘gospel’: you can be anything you chose to be if you just follow your dream. When looked at carefully this is seen to be absurd. If I want to be the quarterback on the Giants, no matter how hard I try I will never do it. Dreams can become nightmares!
While striving for something that we can reach is to be lauded, the more expansive understanding of this modern nonsense can be very destructive, side lining someone for years or even permanently in an impossible quest that is a giant evasion and distraction from what God really calls a person to do. How often have I seen parents look with consternation at their child’s decision to go to Broadway to pursue an acting career because they loved being in a high school play!
While there is a level of truth in the quest for self-fulfillment, like all heresies, it is only a partial truth.
The Truth of the matter is that we are not complete without God. God creates us and sustains us every moment of our existence. Our thinking that our existence is independent of God and that it is no affair of His what we do is a major error that can have life-destroying capabilities. It cuts off, as it were, the human soul from its true nourishment. Our soul basically starves to death, an eternal death. And this happens when the individual seems to be successful in an earthly way but whose seeming triumph is a kind of Pyrrhic victory since it is really a defeat, albeit unacknowledged and for a time unfelt.
Over and over again I have met families and individuals who live their lives completely apart from faith and God. They think that they are doing well but I can see, from a Godly perspective, how incomplete their lives are and how much they need God. Often these individuals come from the best Catholic families who have spent huge amounts of money for the Catholic Education of their children but who have been at the mercy of teachers who have long ago lost their faith.
This is the tragically slow erosion of corruption. We slowly, quietly put ourselves at the center of all things. We, then, banish God from our lives as something that is unnecessary and even harmful to our full human development. This is often followed by a gradual impoverishment of our worldview. Before we know it, we are alone in the universe of our own imaging, apart from the God Who can only give us life. And we prefer this and call this true maturity. Tragically we have chosen our own hell, bereft of the God who alone can give us life, hope and love.
When this happens on a wide scale as we are witnessing in our nation, things come apart. Violence becomes reasonable and pervasive. Children commit suicide. And dull hopelessness permeates everything like a dampness that disintegrates what it touches.
We all sense that it is happening. But we do not go to God but burrow further and further into the hole that will become our grave.
Only God can save us from ourselves.
It takes a great effort on our parts to ask God to be God in our lives, especially when our family, our friends, our agendas don’t accept our new direction that seems like an abdication of our personal pride in ourselves and a surrender to the forces of the past.
But this judgement made on us by the spirit of this world is completely wrong. It is a lie of the devil. It is only in God’s loving but sometimes difficult will for us that we will ever find our true selves and when we do, we will find Christ, at home in our own souls. We are not our own, we belong to Him!