One of my friends shared how going to daily mass has provided his life an anchor. The repetitive liturgical action, rather than tedious monotony, has become the orientation point for his whole day. Everything else might change, but Christ’s offering to the Father in the power of the Spirit is in the center of his heart and feeds him the spiritual nourishment that he needs for whatever challenges come.
His observation makes sense when we think about the Eucharist and the power of our faith. The power of the Christian faith purifies the heart, healing, restoring, and raising up all that is good, noble, and true in our innermost being. This power comes from the Cross of Christ and is communicated through the truth and love of the Holy Spirit. At Mass, the outpouring of the Spirit is manifest and establishes us in these realities. Such faith allows the heart to receive this great gift and it renders the depths of human existence vulnerable to the merciful tenderness of God.
My friend’s witness has helped me see that this is true even in a technocracy. Indeed, he and I live in a society ruled by technological power. Technology by itself is a good thing and can lead to human thriving. But it can also be used for manipulation. That is, instead of serving as a tool that protects and promotes human dignity, it can be abused even to the subjugation of a whole society towards a merely material end. Our use of technology should cede space to our faith, not the other way around.
This, however, is exactly our struggle: to protect and promote the sacred in daily life.
When it is used to keep faith out of the public square and hidden behind the walls of a church or a home, technocracy has achieved a certain tyranny, locking the human spirit in the merely material and pharmacologically efficient. In such a world, there is no more room for the sacred in daily life and the result is the monotony of constant innovation, one irrational social policy after another until we think absurd inconsistency is normative.
When my friend told me about his experience of daily mass, I was thinking about how we live in an era of extreme manipulation and I found in his observation an answer to how to be Christian in the midst of technocracy.
His insight into daily mass is key. If we do not find a way to live our faith in the face of social manipulation, we will easily come to worship the work of our hands. Indeed, the human heart is made for religious devotion even in an empty, de-sacralized world. If it does not find God, the heart will cling to something.
Without the sacred, the world sinks into chaotic meaninglessness, meaninglessness no heart can rise above without divine help. Still, even in nihilism, the heart needs to believe in something. This is why the world that cuts itself off from God has its own kind of faith that is opposed to the Christian faith. In this world, we put our faith in the making of things and the shaping of perception. The tangible, visible, and measurable results are the absolute standards for life, and this creed demands that we shut our eyes to whatever is beyond the results of our own industry. If not actual in human making, even if the heart of a child, such a mentality blindly holds that it is not real. Such obscuriticism never knows the gift of creation or the even more wonderful gift of our redemption.
To some extent, we need to examine our conscience about the ways in which we have failed to live our faith in a post-Christian world.
For failure to receive the gift of God, we should not be so shocked when our children do not find our faith attractive. Instead of the power of Christ, we too often baptize them in the pusillanimity of the way we live it out. They see how we have allowed our social and pharmacological fears to drive our day-to-day existence instead of God, and they rightfully reject our hypocrisy.
We must look at what we have not done in regards to our faith in the public square. We have allowed our educational systems to convince them that shared resentment over evil is actually able to hold a society together and advance it toward peace, and then we wonder why they do not see any advantage to forgiveness or mercy. We have allowed the entertainment industry to educate them about the meaning of human sexuality, and then we wonder why chastity is not attractive to them. They see us passively accept a spirit of accusation and resigned despair in our communities, and then wonder why our explanations of Christian hope fall flat. We have failed to witness the power of God in the face of death and sin, and therefore cannot help lift their eyes to the fulfillment of all desire.
The way out of such darkness is the sacrificial love of Christ – believing in it to the point that we follow our crucified God in daily life. Under the shadow of the Cross, the storm of secularism is not the last word about humanity. The love revealed in His death, a love that alone raises to new life, is more powerful than technology, more actual than results.
This is where my friend’s comments about daily mass come in. Mass orients us beyond ourselves and above what is merely visible. Daily mass puts one in the position of pondering the Word of God, taking up the ascetical discipline of our faith, resisting the boorishness of contemporary living, fasting, forgiving, seeking forgiveness, helping our neighbor, entering into silence before the Risen Lord, allowing Him to reveal the Father to us through the Gift of the Holy Spirit.
All of this makes space for the glory of God in the world, even an overly technological one. It is the glory of God shining through our lives that wins the hearts of those we love. Availing the world to the love of God, such faith provides the only compelling answer to the riddle of death, guilt, and longing that plague the human condition. Above and beyond what is comfortable and what might help us live longer, this is the one hope that remains even when everything else in the world falls apart.
This post was originally published on Beginning to Pray and is reprinted here with permission.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.