‘Tell me something, girl. Are you happy in this modern world? Or do you need more? Is there something else you’re searching for?
Do these words sound familiar? Other than being the opening lyrics to the popular song ‘Shallow’ by Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, they are most likely to be words that echo an idea that has crossed all our minds at some point. As inherently social beings, we enjoy the rhythm of everyday life- work, coffee shops, clothing stores, sporting events, concerts and meetups with friends and family. However, at the end of the day, when all is said and done, is there a little voice that seems to speak in the silence, saying, “is this as good as it gets?”
You see, as well as being inherently social, humans are also intrinsically religious. We are made for something higher. There is a spiritual dimension to us that the world, the flesh, and fleeting amusements cannot satisfy. We are made for worship of the one true and living God, love of neighbour, and to be at the service of one another. As the iconic St Pope John Paul II once put it, ‘Man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.’
It goes without saying that this is difficult to live out in modern times. With lots of other sources demanding our attention and many other frequencies filling our ears, prioritising God must become an act of the will, and it is sure to reduce the quantity of time we spend participating in other activities. However, while of reduced quantity, this time often becomes of greater quality. After all, God sees to the needs of those who make Him their utmost priority. He will not be outdone in generosity. For your heavenly father who sees everything in secret will reward you (Matthew 6:6).
Despite the common saying that is circulating in the culture nowadays, “I’m spiritual, but not religious”, man has an immense capacity for the divine. In fact, he is inherently religious, by virtue of the fact that he is made in the image of and for relationship with his creator. So, yes, man is religious; because he places his hope in something, even though that something can routinely disappoint him. What we worship says a lot about the state of our hearts. The things we value, the words we speak, the thoughts we entertain, are reflective of what we value most within. Mary, when acknowledged in terms of her greatness and immense value by her cousin Elizabeth, instantly turned that praise into a song of rejoicing and love back to God. After all, it is out of the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34).
What does it take to convert a heart to God? After all, it is deceitful and desperately corrupt; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9) However, in recent times what has proven most effective as a mode of evangelisation has been the simple concept of encounter. What will bring people back to the Lord is not in the merely ritualistic sense of reciting the rosary, going to Mass, or doing good works. Rather, the encounter with God and His love, from which the desire to do all the above will organically arise. So, in giving your heart to the Lord, you just don’t know what wild and wonderful direction your life could take! As the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once said; ‘Christianity is not just a set of rules and regulations, but a trajectory that gives you new horizons and changes the course of your life!’
By Ellen Moynihan