Pope Francis, preaching during Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae chapel this morning:
“It’s not enough to say: ‘But I believe in God, God is the only God.’ That’s fine, but how do you live this out in your life’s journey? Because we can say, ‘The Lord is the only God, there is no other,’ but then live as if He was not the only God and have other deities at our disposal … There is a danger of idolatry: idolatry, which is brought to us through the spirit of the world. And in this Jesus was clear: the spirit of the world, no. At the Last Supper he asks the Father to defend us from the spirit of the world, because the spirit of the world leads us to idolatry.”
Pope Francis continued: “Idolatry is subtle…we all have our hidden idols” and “the path of life to follow, to not be far from the kingdom of God” involves “discovering our hidden idols.” The Pope pointed out that this attitude is already present in the Bible, in the episode in which Rachel, Jacob’s wife, pretends she is not carrying idols which she took from her father’s house and hid in her saddle. Pope Francis said that we too “have hid them in our saddle … But we have to look for them and we have to destroy them,” because to follow God the only path is that of a love based on “loyalty.”
“And loyalty demands we drive out our idols, that we uncover them: they are hidden in our personality, in our way of life. But these are hidden idols mean that we are not faithful in love. The Apostle James, when he says, whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God, begins by saying: ‘Adulterers!’ He gives out to us, but with that adjective: adulterers. Why? Because whoever is ‘friend’ of the world is an idolater, is not faithful to the love of God! The path that is not distant, that advances, moves forward in the Kingdom of God, is a path of loyalty which resembles that of married love.”
Pope Francis then asked, even “with our small or not so small idolatries” how is it possible not to be faithful “to a love so great”? To do this, you need to trust in Christ, who is “total loyalty” and who “loves us so much.”
“We can now ask Jesus: ‘Lord, you who are so good, teach me to be [on] this path so that every day I may be less distant from the kingdom of God, this path to drive out all of my idols.’ It is difficult, but we must begin … The idols hidden in the many saddles, which we have in our personalities, in the way we live: drive out the idol of worldliness, which leads us to become enemies of God. We ask this grace of Jesus, today. “
As Deacon Greg Kandra pointed out, Pope Francis here sounds an awful lot like Elizabeth Scalia, whose new book Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life is all about the “hidden idols” we all place before God in our hearts and minds. I just finished the book and highly recommend it. Russell Shaw reviewed it on the CWR Blog last week:
Scalia suggests the scope of this diversity in organizing her bestiary in chapters bearing titles like “The Idol of I,” “The Idol of Coolness and Sex,” and so on. There’s even a chapter on “super idols”–those personalized composites of one’s very own favorite ideologies that, taken together, “give us permission to hate and tell us our hate is not just reasonable but pure.”
As one might expect, the temptation to idolatry is both seductive and deceptive. Other people’s idols are usually obvious, but our own tend to be invisible–to us, that is. Seeing them clearly so as to resist them and root them out requires help–the help that comes from rigorous, regular self-examination, reception of the sacrament of penance, and spiritual counsel from a reliable guide.
Read the whole review here.