This blog will take a hiatus of one week after this, and will resume on 22 March.
“I stopped getting anything from Mass, so I stopped going X number of years ago”.
“I don’t like the kind of songs that we have in Church these days, so I refuse to sing with the others”.
“I agree with most of the teachings of the Church, but there are some which I feel are outdated and are out of touch with reality. So, I pick and choose what I want to follow. I still call myself a Catholic”.
Do any of these statements sound familiar? I am sure that no matter which part of the world you are reading this blog from, you would probably have known someone who has said/felt this way, or perhaps have found yourself thinking this way at some point in time. Why do we think this way? What is the Church’s view of this mentality that seems to be rather prevalent amongst the faithful? Is there something not quite right with the Church, or could it be that we are not quite ‘getting it’ as the jargon of the younger generation tends to put it?
French philosopher Rene Descartes who lived in the early 17th century is hailed as the “Father of modern philosophy”. The ‘individualistic’ revolution is generally attributed to his thought of ‘cogito ergo sum’ or ‘I think therefore I am’. It made the world sit up and believe, erroneously, of course, that the “I” is what everything should revolve around. So, as long as “I” am not pleased, if “I” am not made to feel interested, or if “I” am not entertained or feeling good, whatever it is that I am doing would not serve me well in the long run. This philosophy has its spill over effects into so many areas of our lives, religion and faith not withstanding. And it is because of this mentality that many (not just the young) think that even religion and God needs to serve them.
When the “I” becomes the dominant subject, it is expected that everything should revolve around the self. And one doesn’t have to be a king or an emperor to have this kind of thought process. Even to a simple person with basic education, this kind of thought becomes the seedbed of a problematic society. One begins to negate the need to respect elders, neighbours, and the larger society.
When this is brought to the realm of faith, the problem persists. When God and God’s Will should be what everything and everyone revolves around, we become rightly ordered. But many think that the self should be what everything revolves around. So, when I am not longer finding it interesting to participate at Mass, or when rites and ritual ceases to keep me engaged, or when Church laws (which are expressions of God’s will and guidance) make MY life difficult and inconvenient, I will abandon them. We become dis-ordered.
But is it really all about the “I”? Perhaps we need something like a Copernican revolution, to look at things anew. It’s really not we who the world should be revolving around, and it has always been God’s invitation to invite us into his ambit of love and grace. It’s not ours to call the shots in life, but only to respond with grateful hearts.
Once we come to that true enlightenment, we may be able to change our original self-centered stand on Church, and re-think our original thoughts. Maybe then, we can hear ourselves say: “Even though I may not be getting anything from Mass, even though the hymns aren’t lively, even though I may view some of the Church laws as archaic and infringing on my individual freedom, I still go to Mass, still sing hymns, and still abide by Church laws. Because it’s really not about me.”