Fashion is a tyrant whose power goes well beyond our choice of dress. The "ready-to-wear" is no more than the visible expression of the distressing uniformity of the "ready-to-think," the common mental categories of most of our contemporaries. But even the innumerable extravagances of fashions should not deceive us, because behind these apparently diverse manifestations hides the sole dominance of sensual pleasure.
As sensual pleasure spreads everywhere like an irresistible flood, imperceptibly it soaks us. Little by little, renouncement and sacrifice become foreign to us. A libertarian wind blows, and the petty pursuit of comfort becomes our only ambition. We reject as outlandish and even unsavory any demand that would impose some constraint upon us. Even religion is contaminated in this way, and instead of embracing its demands as so many proofs of the love of God, we try to draw from it personal advantages.
To establish its tyranny, fashion uses fear as its weapon of choice. We are afraid of not being like the others, of what people will say. We are afraid of seeing a thinly-veiled contempt in the eyes of those we meet on the street, afraid of being condemned and rejected, of not being up-to-date, of being different from our contemporaries and exposed to their jeers. These fears paralyze our intelligence and sterilize our will.
Fear is a formidable weapon because man is a social being, loath to be alone. He prefers following the crowd blindly rather than opposing it alone. To be another dead dog carried downstream by the river seems more appealing than to swim upstream trying to avoid the headlong crash against the floating carcasses.
We lack courage. We are afraid - of struggling, of committing ourselves, of declaring war, of resisting, of enduring blows...or of delivering them! We are afraid of not being accepted, of taking trouble to do something, of living our religion on a level above a lukewarm Sunday practice - as if our life were not nourished by the bread we have asked for in the "Our Father."
We are afraid of not enjoying the advantages of the world, of having to remain aside. We would rather bleat with the others, without having to affirm what we are, without having to prove with our whole life that the love of Christ is not in vain. Our soul is overcome by fear, and we sin because of this fear.
This fear is the grotesque manifestation of our attachment to our selves. It is the proof that St. Augustine's words still apply: we belong to the City of Man, of that man who worships only himself and sinks down to the point of despising and hating God.
Thus obsessed by the fear of getting into trouble by displeasing men, we offend God! Fear blinds us to the point of, paradoxically, not fearing to defy the eternal majesty of God in order to avoid having to endure the reproof of men. We can measure the state of dependence - of decadence - in which we have fallen by comparing ourselves to those Christians who fought to defend the injured honor of God, and who did not have "any other fear in the world but that of offending Our Lord."
Afraid of displeasing men and of commitment, we confuse leniency with charity. We accept all compromises, always indulgent, ever mindful of not opposing the "ready-to-think" or what is politically correct. We are busy becoming chameleons, so nobody would be able to recognize us as Christ's disciples. Nonetheless, Our Lord has promised Heaven to those who are not afraid of PUBLICLY showing themselves as His disciples.
We are hesitant to commit ourselves, because we know that, if we do so, we must be consistent. It would be necessary to overcome our bad habits, to stop listening to lascivious music and watching certain spectacles, to abandon our TV sets, to break off some dangerous relationships, to take Our Lord and His teachings seriously...Our eternity depends on this, but we are afraid of not being able to do without all these diversions!
As long as we do not react, we remain "in the shadows of death." In the hour of combat, we desert, cowards who insult God and sin because of their cowardice.
Fear teaches vileness. We must fight against it and assert what we are by grace. Our poverty is great, but we have worsened it by fearfully following today's trends. By the grace of God we can take hold of ourselves again. If we take in hand the supernatural weapons of prayer and fidelity to the duties of our state of life, we will be capable of reacting and fighting on.
What should we do? In the first place, we must not allow ourselves to be dominated by today's world, we must shake off this fear. We are not alone, we are not marginalized. We are heirs to a long line of saints who acknowledged their weakness but did not use it as an excuse to surrender. On the contrary, their weakness was for them the occasion of entrusting themselves totally into the hands of Providence, and that weakness, given to God, became the ground of divine victories.
We are at the antipodes of the soul huddled upon itself in fear. Following the example of the saints, we must abandon ourselves to God with confidence, in all humility, acknowledging our weakness. We must avoid the occasions of sin and forcefully renounce worldly habits. We must escape from a world where everything continually leads us to sensual pleasures. We must live in the joy and peace of the soul that rests in the grace of God.
Then we will not be afraid and we will not sin by conformism. We will be ready to follow Our Lord Jesus Christ on the way to Calvary. We will find in His company the calm that will allow us to overcome our fears. The fear of losing Him or offending Him will give us the strength to face up to our terrors and to break asunder the chains that keep us enslaved to the world.
Fear leads man into grave errors, but the fear of God dispels them. We must find again the intelligence of the majesty of God, of His love for us. We must see the world with the eyes of faith, which will allow us to prepare our eternity. The perspective of eternity is the only light that must guide our souls.
In Christo Sacerdote et Maria,