Comfort and The New Order|
If we snooze, we lose! Seeking a life of comfort and convenience may seem like a good thing, but when we realize the more comfortable we are on this earth, the less our chances for being comfortable in eternity - then we might want to change our habits. Couch potatoes of the world: Arise and Listen up!
"Satan knows the value and power of suffering and hardship. This is why he wants nothing more than to make suffering and hardship as unattractive, as disgusting, as unpleasant as possible. By convincing us that we must avoid suffering, hardship, and discomfort, the devil will be able to push us toward seeking a life of comfort, ease, convenience, no stress, no controversy, and compromise. The New Order has sold us the goods that we have a right to avoid suffering and hardship, that it is stupidity to allow such pain into our lives. It has then sold us on the notion that anything, which increases our comfort and ease, is good and anything, which increases that pain, is bad."
We cannot escape it. It is everywhere we look and everywhere we go. We are slapped in the face with it at every turn. We are incessantly reminded of how much we crave it, how much we need it, how much we cannot live without it. The "it" is comfort and convenience, and it is a central New Order theme.
The Easy Road
The New Order tells us that only a fool makes things more difficult for himself, that it is stupidity to do things the hard way...the old way that worked so well before the advent of modern conveniences that have made us more and more susceptible to idle time, which, as everyone knows is the devil's workshop. We have become flabby and out of shape both physically and spiritually. Yet, to quote the infamous fictional character Alfred E. Newman: "What me worry?"
Why would you use a typewriter when you can use a word processor? Why use a stove when you can microwave? Why use cash when you can use plastic? Why stop at a toll when you can use Easy Pass? Isn't the whole purpose of modern living to simplify, to ease, to speed up our lives? What is the purpose of technology if not to eliminate suffering and toil? All of this talk centers on the notion that easy is better than difficult, that ease and comfort is a right we all have, and that hardship is to be avoided at all costs.
Given this approach, we can see how our society has become dependent on technology for things our ancestors could do on their own, albeit slowly and with trouble.
The same applies to the liturgy and practice of our Faith. Is it not easier to listen to Mass in our own language, for the Mass to be more crowd friendly, for communion to be given while we stand? Who wants to kneel anyway! I have new pants! Why cover my head with a veil when I have a new hairdo! Who wants a bloody Christ on a cross to remind us of pain, of suffering, of hardship? It is a bit much to be reminded constantly that the Savior of the world, the Son of God suffered and faced hardship. If He went through discomfort and inconvenience, I am in trouble. If He suffered a bloody and horrible death, my extra long line at the cash register seems a bit more survivable! Who wants to have suffering and hardship raised to the heights of virtue, of crowns gaining redemption and salvation? Please, just give me a soft chair, a TV, and a bag of chips and I will be much more redeemed, thank you.
The Lost Value of Suffering and Hardship
Satan knows the value and power of suffering and hardship. This is why he wants nothing more than to make suffering and hardship as unattractive, as disgusting, as unpleasant as possible. By convincing us that we must avoid suffering, hardship, and discomfort, the devil will be able to push us toward seeking a life of comfort, ease, convenience, no stress, no controversy, and compromise. The New Order has sold us the goods that we have a right to avoid suffering and hardship, that it is stupidity to allow such pain into our lives. It has then sold us on the notion that anything, which increases our comfort and ease, is good and anything, which increases that pain, is bad.
Finally, the New Order has convinced us that anything we do to increase our comfort and ease is therefore a good, moral, human right. Which is easier, raising three kids or going to parties? Which is more attractive, changing a diaper on an infant or traveling to Europe? What is more fun, dancing or feeding the homeless? It is easy to see how life, charity, mercy, and service take a back seat when faced with the shine of selfishness, comfort, ease, parties, and travel. Yes, forget the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy and live it up!
What the New Order wants us to forget is the value of suffering and pain, of tears and hardship, of falling and getting up. The crucifixion makes no sense to the New Order. That is one reason you see so many "resurrecixes" in the new churches rather than crucifixes. We want to skip past the Passion and Death and go right to the Resurrection.
How could the Son of God go through such pain and suffering when He could have avoided all of this mess? Is it not better to show a risen Christ or have Stations of The Cross where Christ looks comfortable and at ease? Remember that satan offered greater comfort to Adam and Eve and even to Christ Himself in the desert. The devil has an easier job of selling. He is offering a soft sofa and a cool drink while Christ is challenging us to stand on stone and thirst for God. Which is it? The easy road or the straight, narrow, and, yes, difficult road?
What we must do
There is nothing inherently wrong with seeking good things and comfort. What is wrong is the philosophy, the lifestyle, which seeks that comfort and those things as its only and main purpose. We need pain and suffering to jolt us back to reality and to our utter dependence on God. September 11th shocked many people back to God, albeit temporarily in many cases. We forget to pray when things are going well, but run to the church or the crucifix when times are rough. That's nothing new. The chosen people of the Old Testament did the same thing. It's human nature, but it doesn't mean it's right.
We must fight these tendencies to opt for comfort over effort. We must reject the New Order's comfort zone thinking. We must spend our energy spreading comfort to the uncomfortable and suffering. And we shouldn't be too worried if we make people uncomfortable by reminding them of what Christ really calls for despite this necessity being so muted today in society and the Church.
The best way we can make others feel comfortable is by showing them how they can really be comfortable: by assuring their soul is in the state of sanctifying grace. Considering that sanctifying grace is only obtained through the Sacrament of Baptism, and the vast majority lose this when they fall into the state of mortal sin, they would need the Sacrament of Penance, through a worthy confession, to reclaim that saving grace. With that in mind, one has to wonder how many souls are in such desperate straits today and don't realize it. That's not a comforting thought.
Wouldn't they be more comfortable knowing the means for obtaining that comforting grace? I would think so. Here again we encounter a problem overcoming the comfort level. The New Order, for the most part, has abandoned seeking conversions to the True Faith. The New Order is quite comfortable in seeking peace in this world by placating those who do not have the sacraments by giving their blessing to their practices which, as St. Paul clearly points out in Galatians 1: 8-10, is anathema!
That means, despite the platitudes of The New Order that everything is hunky-dory, we must alert our friends and loved ones - even if they are Lutherans, Baptists, Anglicans, 7th Day Adventists, and all other Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Agnostics, Skeptics, New Agers, and especially the "Lukewarm" - that Christ commanded that as Catholics we preach the Gospel to every creature. He made it quite clear in Mark 16: 15-16 that those who believe and are baptized will be SAVED. Likewise He warned in no uncertain terms in the next sentence that those who do not believe, will be CONDEMNED. He didn't hesitate, He didn't hedge. He said it flat out: "condemned!" as in forever. That is definitely not a comforting thought.
Here then we arrive at the logical conclusion that the only Faith which offers sacramental grace as deigned by Christ is the Roman Catholic Church, outside of which, as Catholic Dogma defines, there is no salvation. That makes sense in considering Our Lord's words above. While many may not be comfortable hearing that in these tolerant times, facts are facts and to deny dogma leads to apostasy and schism.
So you see, grace is vital. And, if we are in the state of sanctifying grace, then our concern for saving souls will bear much greater fruit through our prayers and our practicing the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy toward our fellow man without the "social strings" attached. If we do this in the state of grace and seek to bring others to this saving grace, then we will do so much more in easing others' discomfort in this world. The more we strive to do that the greater will our comfort be in the next. The comforts of this life, all the accumulated travel miles, degrees, awards, huge bank accounts and tax breaks mean nothing at The Gates of Heaven. Grace is all one needs for admission.
Editor's Note: We are pleased to announce Gabriel Garnica will be contributing many articles in 2004. Heaven is once again under attack by those who would seek to ignore and overthrow God's majesty and authority. Gabriel Garnica, educator and attorney, will submit regular insights and commentaries to remind and help guide readers toward a deeper and more assertive faith. Touching on topics and issues ranging from personal faith, doctrine, education, scripture, the media, family life, morality, and values, Gabriel's notes will be music to tradtional ears but unpleasant tones to those who have bought into the misguided notions so prevalent and spreading in today's Catholic world.