Perhaps many readers will not agree with the title of this article or its assumed premise, which is that there is an intrinsic disconnect between being comfortable and being with God. After all, many will reason, did not Christ come to us to soothe our sufferings? Did He not come as the soothing solution to the raging conflicts within our minds, hearts and souls? Given the fact that He is "The Way, The Truth, and The Light" is He therefore not the solution to all of our ills? If He is, in fact, that sacred solution, would He therefore not bring us comfort while guiding us closer to God?
The answer to the above question, in my humble opinion, is yes and no.
Our Brand of Comfort
Comfort, as defined by this increasingly secular and atheistic society, is physical, economic, social and emotional comfort. It is a feeling of satisfaction, calm, ease and order in one's life. When we think of comfortable shoes, for instance, we imagine shoes we barely notice which cause us to feel as though we were walking on air. People complain about shirt tags because they irritate our necks or backs while we wear the shirt. In short, a popular conception of "comfort" is practically to be so nice as to inspire one to even forget one is wearing the particular shoes or shirt.
The saints of old would purposely put on sackcloth and ashes to remind them they dare not entertain thoughts of comfort. But today that has all gone the way of the dinosaur. In the New Order they will tell you from the pulpit, pews and verbal engineering from Rome that those practices were "medieval," as if that were a dirty word. Do they realize it was in those terrible medieval times when the recognized Ruler was Jesus Christ and He was honored by peasant and king alike? But the Modernists will try to convince you that "the times have changed and we must march in lockstep with the modern age." They will actually encourage the heresy that doctrine and scripture evolve and that truth can change. We can all thank John XXIII for introducing that agonizing agitprop "aggiornamento" for this grave misperception hammered into the minds of so many clueless Catholics over the decades.
Comfort has been the buzz word from Madison Avenue to the new Order's hierarchy. Gone are kneelers, fasting and abstinence. In place of these deterrents against sin, we have plush chairs in auditorium-like halls where it's all about the community as "Communion" with nary a thought of Who we should be in communion with - Christ the Lord. Gone are the threats of hellfire for those who veer from what Jesus and His Church teach. The doors of these edifices have been left wide open for satan to march right in. The welcome mat put out and they greet him with smiles, loving the sin as well as the sinner. We cannot condemn sin because that would make the sinner uncomfortable. Live and let live.
In other words, this world's "comfort" is that which does not get in the way of our daily life, which does what it needs to do without disturbing us from doing what we want to do.
The comfortable chair allows us to watch television without distracting us from watching television. The comfortable shoes and shirt allow us to wear them without distracting us from our daily activities. Before we know it, the comfortable rules become those which do not distract us from doing what we feel like doing. We have a free will, but do we really think we won't have to pay the piper if we continue in our comfort zones?
Nobody wants a shirt, a pair of shoes or a chair that is constantly irritating or causing discomfort. Such things are an annoying distraction that get in our way. Remember, that's "medieval." We are reminded of our distaste for such things with revisionist history that denigrates Catholics of old. We are reminded how we could be ostracized if we do not embrace the New Order in ecclesial and secular sectors. This is hammered home in the ads we see or read for comfortable beds which change shapes to fit the contours of our bodies. The goal is to have a bed you barely know is there. Sweet dreams forget the nightmare that awakes if we get too comfortable with worldly things.
In other words, if I notice something, it is already getting in my way. It is already distracting me. The comfortable relationship is the one which does not present us with problems, issues, confrontations, tensions, annoying calls for our time or depressing interactions with someone who actually dares to think that his or her problems are as big or bigger than mine. We like our comfort zones. Don't bother us.
It is always about me, me and then some more me. Comfort is when I feel okay and discomfort is when I don't. Others' comfort means nothing if it leads to my discomfort. This is all part and parcel from the repercussions of the sixties revolution, ushered in by Vatican II, which led to the selfish seventies and beyond, resulting in a total breakdown of family values, hard work and self-sacrifice. Those were the checks and balances God had always set in place from the time of Adam and Eve's banishment from Paradise. We were meant to sweat, to be uncomfortable in this life. But that's not politically correct to today's mavens of madness who, on their watch, became too comfortable in their ignominious ways.
Heaven's Brand of Comfort
Heaven has a very different view of comfort than what the world perceives. Its comfort consists in its consistency with God's Divine Will and Purpose. It is the comfort of knowing deep in your being that God loves you and wants you to return to Him from your life's journey. Heaven's comfort is knowing that, no matter what this life may bring you, Heaven will only bring you limitless joy and contentment once you get there. The ultimate comfort; the deluxe mattress on a cloud of endless dreams with the Divine.
Heaven's comfort is feeling content because you have placed others before yourself. It is the fulfillment of making others more fulfilled. It is the inner peace of humility so prevalent among many great Saints or the deep assurance of insight offered by the great minds this Church has seen over the ages. Today, there is a terrible void of saints. Could it have anything to do with the New Order putting more emphasis on man's temporal comforts and greatly jeopardizing our spiritual comforts? Do you think?
Heaven's comfort has nothing to do with this world's comfort. One need only look at the story of the beggar comforted in Heaven while the rich man who enjoyed great earthly comfort was so tormented in hell. It is not that those who experience great comfort on this earth will automatically experience great discomfort in the afterlife. Rather, it is that those who enjoy such comfort here without regard for those who do not enjoy such comfort will surely pay for their selfish negligence in eternity.
Today is the feast of Saint Vincent de Paul who sought discomfort to comfort souls and bring them to the comfort of Heaven by often times telling them uncomfortable truths. So also with yesterday's saint St. Camillus de Lellis. He tended to souls at the risk of his own comfort, treating the sick in trying to make them comfortable but always emphasizing how uncomfortable it would be if they did not repent and convert. The same for the vast majority of saints in the Church's liturgical calendar. They sought to comfort others first by sharing the most comfortable truth of all: "He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not, shall be condemned" (Mark 16: 16).
Comfort and Sin
The devil uses comfort as his lure toward sin. How much evil enters our lives as a result of our seeking greater comfort for ourselves at different levels? How much self-centered arrogance is born out of a drive to achieve greater comfort at the expense of others or our relationship with God?
What is "Cafeteria" or "Buffet" Catholicism if not a pathetic, arrogant and misguided attempt to make Catholicism "sinner friendly"? Does not the devil want us to believe, as our teens say, that "everything is good" from the standpoint of salvation and we will surely be saved no matter what because "God is okay with us and loves us"? "He wouldn't send me to hell." No, He wouldn't. You would send yourself by stubbornly staying in your comfort zone.
People see comfortable parents as those who get off their backs and do not impose annoying rules or expect distracting standards of behavior. How many young people would love a parent or teacher who winks at immorality, smirks at sin and throws back a few beers while mocking rules? Be a buddy, not a mentor. Such authority figures are easy to deal with and comfortable to have.
How many Catholics prefer to see God as some all loving cool Dude who accepts our sins because He loves us so much? Don't these people tell us that Christ will accompany the woman on her way to dismember her unborn child in abortion, hang loose with the criminal stealing a television set or embrace the person who lives a life of questionable moral conduct? Already we see how the sin of sodomy is getting a makeover where now God smiles on those who have a different inclination. The homosexual collective has lobbied, sadly successfully, to vilify anyone who dare make them uncomfortable by reminding them it, along with abortion, are two of the four sins that cry to Heaven for vengeance. How soon so many, seeking to be comfortable in their comfort zones, forget what God did to Sodom and Gomorrah.
These folks like to see the Christ Who stopped the mob from stoning the prostitute as a Friend Who made her a lot more comfortable by preventing her horrible death. What they fail or refuse to recall is that He also challenged her to perhaps find comfort in seeking
God rather than fleeing Him by asking her to "Sin no more" (John 8: 11).
In the end, there is always a chance for our salvation as long as we find great, bitter discomfort and distraction in sin. We must see and feel sin like the most annoying of shoes, the most irritating of shirt labels, the most bothersome of parents, teachers and authority figures. Sin must be that annoying itch on your back that drives you crazy until you scratch it, eradicate it. It must never stop being that headache that you simply must take a pill for before you wreck your entire day. The only pill that guarantees relief can be found in the Sacrament of Penance by a true priest, validly ordained, who alone has been given the power from above to forgive sins. If you are not comfortable with that fact, tough!
If this world tells us that comfort means barely knowing something is there, then sin must be the most uncomfortable thing in our life. It must be the 300 pound gorilla on our back that must be removed as soon as possible. Confession must be the sweet Hand of a loving, merciful God reaching out to scratch that itch, remove those tight shoes and cut off that annoying label.
The devil is all about making us more comfortable in this world but God is all about making us more comfortable for eternity. Hell's comfort is all about me here and now and Heaven's is all about helping others be more comfortable here and ending up very comfortable for eternity. We cannot afford the kind of comfort that this world offers. We cannot afford to forget God or to conveniently shove Him aside when He gets in the way of our smooth sailing through the day.
The only way to attain Heaven's comfort is to reject this world's counterfeit comfort.
Each of us is faced with our daily Eden, forced to choose between God and the apple.
Our ultimate salvation hangs in the balance of our choice between the comfort of this world and that of Heaven. Let us hope and pray that we each make the right choice.