I sat with my spiritual father today who discussed with me a quote on his calendar for the month of February. It was of St.John Chrysostom. In previous weeks we had discussed how St.John was a favorite Saint of mine so he felt it relevant to give me the quote. It is the feast of Saints Jacinta and Francisca today, who were visionaries of Our Lady of Fatima. How fitting it was the calendar was in honor of Our Lady of Fatima too. The quote was as follows.
Nothing procures for us such a growth in virtue as frequent prayer, the oft-repeated companionship and familiar relations with GodSt.John Chrysostom
The reason the quote had such an impact on me is because every week or other I’m complaining about how infrequent my prayer life is. It was St.John reaching out to me with a gentle reprimand for not keeping schedule. The conversation then moved to discussing the miraculous relic of the incorrupt ear of St.John as well as his homilies. I explained how reading St.Johns Homilies had been an eye opener for me on how little humanity has changed.
I told my spiritual father how you could read the homily to a modern crowd. By merely tweaking a few words here and there to suit modern sensibilities you could read it to the congregation and at the end, they would not realize they’d just heard a homily from the 4th century.
For example, St.John reprimands his congregation for going to the theatre to watch plays, spending hours at a time at certain parties, but lament they’ve no time for prayer or reading scriptures. He scolds them for their great knowledge in Gladiators, knowing all the names of their great heroes as well as their children. They’re able to name all the chariot racers horses and know them off by heart. Knowing all this yet they know nothing of the scriptures. If asked something about their Christian faith they’re dumbfounded and stupefied. They adorn their homes with lovely tiled floors and make their homes looking pretty while their souls remain ugly.
Is it any different today? Simply exchange gladiators for “actors” or “musicians and celebrities” and now you’ve got a perfect picture of a world that has not changed. We’d rather spend more time watching the “Kardashians” than reading scriptures and know the names of all our favorite musicians children but have no knowledge of Catechism. Change the name of the old roman theatres to todays “Cinema” and there you’ve got a perfect picture of a world that isn’t any different to that of the 4th century. A 2 hour movie is much more appealing that 2 hours spent reading the Bible for most of us.
Even when people approach me and say that countries where abortion isn’t legalized are living in the dark ages make me laugh at just how ignorant they can be. For it is written thousands of years ago in the early fathers of the 2nd century where they scold women for using contraceptive medication of the day and herbs to procure an abortion. Contraception and abortion pre-date the dark ages since the beginning of time.
The only modern thing about it is the inventive ways in which they’ve made contraception and abortion more accessible to all. Yes, indeed, the only thing that has changed is that virtue has decreased while evil has developed tenfold. Nope, apart from the external modern inventions and architecture as well as some slither of cultural attitudes and tastes have changed, we as a race have not.
We love to have nicely tiled floor, we still love to look at theatre shows knowing all the actors names and their childrens names. The illusion the Devil has whispered in the ear of every generation is the same old lie that, “You are modern, powerful and not like your ancestors who are now outdated and not worth thinking about. They are mere relics of the past but you. . . you are ever present and modern.”
Every human from Adam and Eve to the present day eat them lies up and are quite willing to live the illusion. In fact, they’d rather live the illusion because the truth is scary. It’s frightening to be cornered by the objective truth in a world immersed in moral relativism, self-love and the enjoyment of pleasurable fleshy activities. The certainty of it scares us because if the entire story of Heaven, Hell and everything in between is real, well, that means we have to break out of the mold and change doesn’t it? No, we don’t want that. Give more more of the same old, same old. “Ignorance is bliss” they say.
In the movie the Matrix (if you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it) there is a scene where the man is being a sort of Judas. He is turning in the leader of his community to the agents (the devil). He says to them, “I know this steak isn’t real, and that when I put it into my mouth, the matrix (illusory world) us telling my brain it tastes good, but you know what? Ignorance is bliss”.
What a compelling moment in a movie that describes us all in a few sentences. We’d rather live the lie, it’s easier, for the path to truth is full of thorns, brambles and suffering. After reading this, which path will you take? The illusory pleasurable world the devil has on offer, or the long road of suffering to truth which in the end culminates in eternal paradise? I know which one I want.