As Moses descended the mountain, with the 10 commandments in his hands, a fiery anger consumed him. Why? The people below had descended into making for themselves a molten, metal calf which they were adoring! Infuriated at the people pushing aside the true God for a false god, Moses slammed the ten commandments shattering them, tore down the golden calf, pulverized it, and cast into a nearby river the remains, and made the people drink from that water!
Idolatry, the “false-god” complex is spread far and wide today! What is an idol? Simply this: “Placing any person, place or thing above God, this is the essence of idolatry! St. Thomas Aquinas, known as the “Angelic Doctor” noted that when we do not adore the true God, then we will set up for ourselves a false god, an idol! Today, idols take on many different sizes, forms, shapes, colors and ideas! All of us can fall prey to a modern form of idolatry! Why not examine this list and see where you might fall!
1. MATERIALISM. This is the god of possessing. We become possessed by our own possessions. Having is much more important then “being”. ( Pope John Paul II). Money-making in any way possible becomes the end all of one’s entire existence. The Baby born(Jesus the Lord) in Bethlehem, who had no where to sleep at night, “The foxes have their holes and the birds of the air their nest, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head”, also said that one cannot serve God and money at the same time!
2. CONSUMERISM. Closely bound to materialism is “Consumerism”– the philosophy of buying as much as your means permit, and even often “beyond” what your means permit. Put bluntly, “Shop until you drop!” “Black Friday” (the day after Thanksgiving) a couple of years ago, when the doors of a Wall mart store opened in New York, stampeding of human buffaloes resulted in stomping upon and killing an employee in the store. Emergency closure of the store, resulted in incensed customers who wanted to buy and buy and care less about the dead man laying on the floor! How dehumanizing sin is: the thing supersedes in importance the human person, created in the image and likeness of God. Have you been tainted or even contaminated by “buying”? Is your wardrobe already full and still your heart is tugging toward buying to your heart’s content?
3. RATIONALISM. The philosophy that believes in only what one can see, smell, taste, touch, and hear. This is based on only what can be proven scientifically. Therefore, any transcendent God who goes beyond the tangible, palpable, and material, should be discarded as simply a figment of your imagination! Classical catholic doctrine maintains that God has given us reason/intellect/intelligence which should be cultivated to the maximum. However, faith is key to understanding God and arriving at Him. One of the encyclicals of Pope John Paul II summarizes this concept: FIDE RATIO— Latin for “Faith ” and “Reason”. Faith does not contradict reason but transcends (goes beyond) reason!
4. AGNOSTICISM. Another common mind-set! The “Agnostic” lives in a “Spiritual limbo”! He is in “No-man’s land.” He neither accepts the existence of God, nor does He deny the existence of God. Living in a perpetual state of doubt, often is blown by the winds of mode, passion and his own feelings. Emotionally draining, the agnostic never really sustains that Absolute Truth exists!
5. ATHEISM: DOGMATIC. The philosophical system that categorically denies the existence of a “Supreme-Being” that we call God! The Russian proponent of this philosophy, Karl Marx in Das Kapital, labels god as simply the “Opium of the people”— meaning, to assuage and pacify the multitude/mass of ignorant people “The proletariat”, let them believe in god! This poisonous system has spread far and wide throughout the world. Our Lady of Fatima warned against Russia spreading her errors throughout the world. Unfortunately it is becoming one of the most rapidly growing religions (anti-religions) in the Western-world!
6. PRACTICAL ATHEISM. Different than “Dogmatic” atheism that categorically denies God’s existence, the “Practical Atheist” asserts that he believes in a transcendent being– God; however, due to his lifestyle, he denies God’s existence! In other words, he has fallen into hypocrisy— what he professes with his lips, he denies by the way he is living! The Argentines have a pithy slogan that illustrates this point: “Escribir con la mano y borrar con el codo!”– translated: “To write with your hand, but then to erase with your elbow!” Words are cheap! Pope Paul VI in his encyclical “Evangeli Nuntiandi” painfully stated, “The world is tired of words; the world needs saints, true witnesses to the Gospel!
7. DEISM. A system that accepts the existence of God; however, it is an impersonal God, not at all interested in human affairs. This is below him. The common analogy for Deism is that God is the “Clock-maker” in the sky; he started the clock of human existence, but in no way will he intervene in human affairs. In other word, the tender and loving and compassionate and concerned Father as portrayed in the Parable of the Prodigal Son is totally alien to the belief-system of the Deists! In other words an “Impersonal” and distant god is all there is!
8. SECULARISM. Pope Benedict XVI warns the modern technologically advanced countries about the inherent danger prevalent in a “Secularist” philosophy. “Secularism” simply means “The world”. It is so easy to be absorbed in the world and its passing fashions that God is either forgotten, relegated to a secondary place of importance, or God is totally obliterated as an archaic fossil of the past. In brief, our “world” becomes our god! For this reason, the fiery Marian saint, who teaches us how to consecrate ourselves to Mary in his classic True Devotion to Mary, suggests that the first step in consecrating our lives to Jesus through Mary is to renounce the world! All of the worldly maxims, empty promises, half-truths (lies) seductions, have to be renounced so as to put on the new man Jesus the Lord!
9. SUBJECTIVISM. The ultimate source of “Truth” derives from “me” the subject, rather than the existence of an “Absolute Truth” that exists outside of my own little world! This philosophy embraces “feelings” more than an absolute truth. Follow what you feel and just do it! The “Subject”– the individual person determines truth!
10. MORAL RELATIVISM. Related to “Subjectivism” is the pernicious and all too widely spread poison of “Moral Relativism”. “Situation Ethics”, “Cafeteria Catholicism” are other ways that this concept is expressed. Moral Relativism asserts that there is no Absolute/objective truth that exists permanently. Rather, all is subject to change, even morality. What might have been moral for our ancestors, is not necessarily the same for us. The Greek philosopher, Herodotus taught the philosophy of what he termed “Perpetual Flux”– meaning that all is in constant flux or change. Moral relativists apply this to morality! Persons, places, circumstances, and social mores can all change the morality of the act. Contrary to “Moral Relativism” we believe that “Absolute Truth” does indeed exist in Jesus, who is the WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE! Jesus manifests His truth through the mouthpiece of the Holy Father, the Pope. When the Pope speaks on faith, dogma and morals then he is infallible, because it is the Holy Spirit that speaks through him!
11. HEDONISM. This is the philosophy of pleasure. You have one life to live, why not just live it up. “Eat, drink and be merry! The sky is the limit! Go for it! Enjoy! You deserve a break today… American modern lifestyle promotes hedonism as the sure way to happiness! Even buffets promote eating beyond limits: “Eat all you can on Thursday, only $4.99. After the third enormous platter, you feel that you have to return for the fourth platter! Why? It was paid for! You have a right to it!
12. REINCARNATIONISM!/NEW AGE PHILOSOPHY. Influence from Eastern religions, maintains that we are on the “Wheel of existence” and the wheel indeed does spin. Upon death, one returns to another existence (Transmigration of soul) until after a certain number of reincarnations, non-existence, a free-fall into an abyss of nothingness! How perilous if embraced! To believe that you have many lives and many chances, can easily lead us into a complacent. laz ans sinful lifestyle with the pretext: Next life, I will be on better behaviour! My friend, there is no second chance. After death, comes judgment: salvation or condemnation. Let us work out our salvation in fear and trembling!
313. SYNCRETISM. A mixture of many false-ideas at the same time! Many live what they believe a religious life, but have snipped off various strains of religion and thrown it into the pot of their own “Self-made religion”. Never have we lived in a society with so much information; but also so much confusion!
14. HOROSCOPES. Many read the newspapers more than they read the Bible, the Word of God! Their favorite section falls upon the daily “Horoscope”. By checking out my sign in the sky I will be able to determine what will happen to me, my future, personal encounters, etc. True Christianity denies totally and absolutely believing in ” stars” in the skies as determining our future. Rather, Christians believe in the concept of “Divine Providence”. Nothing at all happens by chance! Jesus says that our Heavenly Father knows how many hairs we have on our head and even when one of them fall to the ground! Rather, an All-loving and caring and Providential Father gently but firmly guides all our lives, actions, and movements, down to the most minute detail to its final end! As St. Paul said to the Athenians, “In Him we live and move and have our being.”
15. SATANISM. Satanic practices grow by leaps and bounds. The first Church of Satan was constructed in California under the auspices of Anton Levey. Black Masses, the profanation of churches, statues, especially of the Blessed Virgin Mary, incantations, even human sacrifices (“Culto de la Santa Muerte”– “The cult of holy death”), all of the above become more and more manifest in the modern “Culture of death”. Due to this, diabolic possessions become more commonplace, so much so that the Holy See encourages priest to considers the possibility of assuming the responsibility of becoming exorcists! Remedy: Marian consecration through the teaching of St. Louis de Montfort. The serpent raises his infernal head, but the woman(“Mary”) crushes the head with her heel. We are called to be that “heel” of the woman who came to conquer!
16. NIHILISM. A perilous philosophical system that maintains that theres is really no true meaning to life. JP. Sartre, Albert Camus were two of the major proponents of this philosophy. Life is a bitter joke. If taken to extremes, the net-result of this mind-set leads to a despair of life and suicide. If life has no real meaning and my lot is suffering then why not end it all! Without Jesus Christ and His eternal message of hope, nihilism follows as the Standard to follow!
17. SENTIMENTALISM. Very characteristic of the modern epoch in which we live. If it really feels good, then do it! No strings attached, no restraint, unbridled passion, the world of the flesh. How deleterious to the stability of marriage and family and society! Why? Once romantic, sentimental love has evaporated— often it does even on the honeymoon– then the disenchanted spouse simply says one day: “I do not feel I love you!” As a follow up: “Given that I do not feel that I truly love you, I have to be true to myself and search out greener pastures and somebody that I really do love. I have to be honest with myself!” How deadly! How false! True disciples of Christ, know that love is not a mere feeling, but a decision to be faithful to one’s commitments. Jesus could not be any clearer when He said: “If you love me, keep my commandments!” The “word” feel is not in these words of Jesus!
18. FREUDIANISM. An over-emphasis since the mid-sixties of sexuality, has caused catastrophic moral earthquakes. This false philosophy maintains that the human person is a sexual person. Therefore, the sexual impulses raging within should never be denied. This will result in frustrations, low self-esteem, the thwarting of one’s personality. The Church of Jesus Christ refutes this false philosophy. The Church does not believe in “Birth-control”, but in “Self-control”. The Church does not believe in “Safe-sex”, but rather in “Sacred-Sex” only in holy matrimony between husband and wife. Careful! This “Condom-nation” is heading towards “Condemnation!” Either you control your sexuality and you experience freedom or your sexuality controls you and you become a slave. Indeed Jesus says that sin indeed is Slavery!
19. NARCISSISM. The word take from a Greek myth of Narcissus, who peered into the lake and saw his image reflected in the water, thereby falling madly in love with his own reflection. This philosophy simply states that one’s own self should be loved, defended, catered to and exalted at all times and places. Put bluntly voila: The Egotistic Trinity of “Me”, “Myself”, and “I”. No longer room for “Theology”, but only room for “Me-ology”! The remedy for this egotistic philosophy is simple and can be understood by a short acronym: J.O.Y. This order!
J= JESUS , must be first! Then, O= OTHERS, next! Finally Y= YOU, for last! Lived in this proper order the wrong god of narcissism dies!
20. ANIMAL RIGHTS OVER HUMAN RIGHTS! May God bless the animal-kingdom! However, to place “animal-rights” over “Human-rights”– specifically, the right of an unborn baby to be born, is highly offensive to the Creator of all! The totality of the created world, had its origin in God. Creation has as its purpose to praise the creator. However, the pinnacle of creation is the human person. All material creation was created for man so that he could use it as a stepping stone to arrive at heaven and not a stumbling block to fall and descend to hell! With his consistent conciseness and clarity, St Thomas Aquinas asserts: ” One immortal soul, is worth more than the whole created world!” Animals might be man’s best friend, but Jesus became Man and Friend to man and woman– the summit of creation!
21. SUPERSTITIONS! Tarot cards, the crystal ball, palm reading, the Ouija board, reading tea-leaves, horoscopes and signs— the list is interminable, but all of these are superstitious practices that militate against Christianity. The reason is not complicated! Either we place our trust in God or we place our trust in superstitious practices! Who is more reliable, the hand turning cards, or the Providential hand of our loving and sustaining Father and Creator?
22. WITCHCRAFT On one occasion, while travelling Archbishop Fulton Sheen sat next to a very attractive woman. Given that it was Lent, he noticed that the woman would not eat. (Sheen also was fasting that day) He inquired, “You must be fasting for Lent!” Quickly she retorted, “No, I am a witch and am fasting for the success of abortion! How willing are we to carry out sacrifices for the cause of Christ? Jesus said, “The children of this world are more astute than the children of the light!”
23. JEHOVAH WITNESSES! Deny categorically almost every major doctrine of the Catholic faith! That is to say they deny the Divinity of Christ, the Papacy, the Sacramental system, both the Eucharist and Confession, the person and intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the communion of saints, and much more… However, what missionary zeal manifested by the Jehovah Witness! Come rain or shine, doors slammed and angry pit-bulls on the loose– off they are “two by two” to promote their cause! May we be set on fire for Jesus and His cause!
24. IDOLATRY OF DRUG, DRINK, GAMBLE. For all too many, these are there major pastimes, to the detriment of their children, spouses, families! Furthermore the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and using and abusing these elements the body is torn down, deteriorates, and corrupts. St. Paul teaches,” You will reap what you sow! Those who sow in the flesh will reap a harvest of corruption, but in the spirit a harvest of eternal life! Worse yet, these idols transform themselves into the ugly parasite of ADDICTION! Solution! There is a “Doctor in the house”. That “Doctor” is Jesus who came to heal and to save! He said, “I have come to bring life and life in abundance.”
25. FAMILY, FRIENDS, FUN! We all come from a family, most likely live in a family and will die in a family. Friends, true friends indeed, can be extraordinary means to help us to arrive at God. FUN! We all need some form of recreation—diversion so as to restore our strength and return to work. However, if family, friends and fun prevent us— especially on Sundays– from attending Holy Mass, and prevent us from participating fully, actively and consciously in the greatest prayer, then this too is idolatry! Love our family we must, enjoy our friends we should, enjoy a good meal, “Buen apetit!” However, never should we put person, place or thing above God– this too is idolatry!
What is the remedy when confronted by so many “Ugly Goliaths”? Very simple: reorient and redirect the object of our love. JESUS, MARY, THE CHURCH, THE POPE, THE SAINTS, THE SACRAMENTAL LIFE AND ALL FOR THE SALVATION OF IMMORTAL SOULS! Down with idols! Long live Christ the King and Mary as Queen!