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Saint of the Day: St. Pio of Pietrelcina
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Afraid You’ll Meet Jesus at Eucharistic Adoration?

Jeffrey Bruno

JonMarc Grodi - published on 12/04/14

Consider the following scriptural image which is quite applicable to our modern day:

[2] For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
[3] inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good,
[4] treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
[5] holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people. (2 Timothy 3:5)

Now the line I am most interested in is that last one. What does it mean to “[hold] the form of religion but [deny] the power of it”?

There are a variety of causes causing a variety of ills, but that last image is, I believe, most telling. You see, people are comfortable with “morality." They are comfortable with “church." They are comfortable with “causes," and “values," and “goodness," and even “God," to a certain degree. However they are not comfortable with Christ Himself. Many of my fellow parishioners, dear souls that they are, are quite friendly and sociable talking to me about youth groups and turkey dinners and church renovations and Christmas concerts. However, when I try to bring up Jesus Christ, conversion, the Holy Spirit, or experiencing Our Lord in the Eucharist, awkwardness ensues.

Sadness, rather than indignation, is the emotion triggered by such attempted conversations. People need Jesus Christ and deep down they want Jesus Christ. But many people keep the “power” of religion, our Lord Himself, at a distance.
While there are many causes of our spiritual estrangement, there are two fears that often cause people to hold tight to their lukewarmness – that keep them from asking the perilous question: “Are you there God?”.

Some people avoid a real pursuit of God because they are afraid that he doesn’t really exist. People like the idea of God and all the other ideas that accompany Him but they are not confident that there is much beyond the idea. To press the idea, to question it, and to suggest that one really can come to know God personally – this brings the blissfully and intentionally ignorant person far too close to the perilous question. While the desire for God is strong, the fear of asking a question which could yield disappointing answers is stronger.

Other people fear to pursue God because, as C.S. Lewis explains, they are afraid they might actually find Him. He says:

An “impersonal God” –  well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads — better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap — best of all. But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps, approaching an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband — that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (“Man’s search for God!”) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us? – C. S. Lewis 

To face up to the tough questions, to face up to the “power of religion” is to face up to the possibility that Christ really is there pursuing us, desiring us, and calling us out. Along with the pervading propaganda of our culture, we dislike the mere suggestion that we still have room to grow, that we have a destiny, duty, and responsibility. 

Because of these two fears, we latch on to morality or ritual or causes or values or lingo or community. We latch onto something that is “safe," anything that can keep us occupied and make us “look busy” but which will never bring us face to face with the”power of religion” which is Jesus Christ Himself.

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