Under the care of the Discalced Carmelite Friars
In the past it seems, ideals and values were provided by church and state. Key ideas here were things like freedom, democracy, the common good of citizens, right action , morality, being at peace with God, etc. Not only did church and state but family also endorsed such values – family in the past possessing an authority which it no longer has.
But now both Church and State have suffered a loss of public confidence.
Eg, it seems to me that there was a time when people unquestioningly did what their spiritual and temporal leaders suggested., but that has changed however in our days.
Big business and finance is not trusted either because it is often perceived and probably rightly, that corporations put their own interests and profits ahead of those of their clients. A good example I suppose is the controversy about Qantas outsourcing the servicing of their aircraft to foreign countries..it seems that the customers or passengers are the last people they would consult – if at all.Their argument however that they need to do this to remain competitive is a compelling one.
Families today are often torn by competing interests and sometimes marked by aggression. Even the very definition of marriage is now up for grabs.In our modern world virtually nothing has escaped unscathed. In a word much of the glue that held things together in the past is no longer holding – It`s a bit like when you open an old book it begins to fall apart.
We hear today that a lot of people are searching for a new spirituality because they are fed up with churches and other institutions.They say they are engaged in a spiritual quest..this is not new – in the gospel today Nicodemus is one such person.
In the nearest big new commercial venture to us, Coventry Square there is plenty of evidence of this just now. I was in there on Friday and I counted at least a dozen temporary booths promoting all kinds of new age spirituality , spiritual healing, fortune telling and other occult practices.One lady was playing pan pipes quietly which is an instrument that suggests esoteric themes and sounds somewhat mystical and a man there was slowly beating a kind of drum like an Irish bodran.
Now the thing is that all this may sound rather pretty and colourful with lots of candles and nice aromas , but there is a flip side and a dark aspect to all this as well.The Scriptures have traditionally and consistently warned people off from dabbling in the occult or consulting mediums and such like. It was indicative of a turning away from God and true religion. Much of New Age stuff can be harmless and in fact people can be exploited and taken for a ride after parting with $100 or so. As someone said, `if they were not meant to be fleeced, God wouldn’t have created sheep.` And the great circus figure P. T Barnum remarked , ` there`s a sucker born every minute.`
But other forms of the occult can be highly dangerous to people`s mental and spiritual health and apparently , unlike other professions, there are no controls much or no accountability required from New Age practioners.
In the gospel today we find that Nicodemus went to see Jesus after dark.. John always uses the theme of darkness to suggest evil. Jesus instructed him about spiritual realities.. but he also gave him a gentle reproof…He didn’t call him a coward or didn`t say he was doing wrong, but Jesus did say that everyone who does wrong hates the light and avoids it.
So during this Lent, which is a time of courageous renewal, we must not be afraid of the light but instead embrace it…As followers of Jesus we know that he is the light of the world – he is the way , the truth and the life. God is working on us at all times if only we would give him a free hand. St.Paul says we are God`s work of art,created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning God had meant us to live it.Our Carmelite St John of the Cross who was an amateur sculptor said the same thing – he said God is chipping away at us to release a beautiful work of art from the raw material which is ourselves. But the point is that we must allow God to shape us into a desirable work of art which will render us more like God`s only Son.
Tadgh Tierney ocd