Grace to you!
Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was one of the most popular North American Christian media personalities in the twentieth century. His talk show, Life is Worth Living, was televised in the national channels across the United States. From him we have a story about one of his fans, a young man who approached him, seeking for some spiritual advice. “Listening to you makes me feel good,” said the young man.
The Archbishop, however, was surprised when the young man requested he shouldn’t mention the cross, morality, sin, heaven or hell during the course of their dialogue. Kind enough, Sheen obliged him. At the end of their conversation, the young man so moved by Sheen’s “inspired” words, asked Sheen to pray for him so that he will believe in the Jesus of the Cross. God must have touched the young man to change his position in such a short period. God has the key to any heart.
A new interpretation of the human person developed in the early 20th century, chiefly spread by some behavioral psychologists. All human actions were interpreted as results of past known and unknown situations stored in the unconscious, they believed. Denying the notion of objective morality, they argue that if such a concept ever exists, it would be about how to make the individual feel good. Counseling Clinics were set up to achieve this objective and a new form of theology developed, built on the premise of what feels good – what is convenient.
Similarly, the New Age movement emerged. Its central ideology revolves around self-help, motivational psychology and holistic health to create spirituality without borders or confining dogmas. It is a movement built on the foundation of convenience and with one probable gospel, relativism as the only absolute.
Based on convenience, anything that opposes my feeling good should never be welcomed in the new age. We have a graduation into what I may call Christianity of convenience, a Christianity that picks and chooses what to accept and what not to accept of the message of the Christ, which many in the “new Christianity of convenience” call “old and outdated.” A Christianity, for instance, that could say: Killing of animals is evil, but reckless killing of the baby in the womb is my choice.
However, fifty years into this new form of religion, our society has recorded more emotional breakdowns than in the preceding generations. Society and family values are shaken, relationships are broken as more and more people are getting glued to their computers.
We find in the Catholic Church’s readings of today, a total opposite of Convenience Christianity. A woman endures the martyrdom of seven sons (2nd Maccabees 7:1-2); Jesus refutes the Sadducees who think wellbeing is all about having sex and getting married; and presents resurrection from the dead as the testimony of living with the Lord (Luke 20:27-38); and Paul prays for us for perseverance (2nd Thessalonians 2:16-3:5) – which we do know makes sense when interpreted as a follow-up to the cross.
If there is one belief that the men and women of our world need today, it is the belief in the afterlife - resurrection. This is the effective antidote to the infectious disease of materialism and consumerism and the feel good “Christianity.”
Strong belief in the resurrection can make us stronger, realizing that our life isn’t simply about the temporary, but eternal. Hope of and belief in the resurrection is an answer to Convenience Christianity. “If we died with the Lord, we shall live with the Lord” (2 Timothy 2:11).
I pray we be courageous and persevere in our faith, especially in our generation of feel good gospel. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.