Be a saint...what else is there?
This particular tag line was used by Mother Angelica, founder of EWTN, for years and years and years. Hearing it makes me smile. But is there a deeper message behind this little bit of religious wisdom?
Pleasure and comfort have become idols in modern society, so that anything that leads to pleasure and comfort is to be pursued while anything that seems to detract from either of these worshipful states is not only to be avoided; rather they are to be villified.
Thus we cannot deny ourselves anything...we cannot suffer for the good...and morality becomes based on opinion rather than objectivity.
Subjectivism: the position where we know our thoughts/our sense impressions or our interior selves more than that which happens outside ourselves.
The Subjectivist does not know anything outside of themselves - and from this "but it is good for ME" arises Relativism.
The Catholic Church teaches that we must follow our conscience - St Thomas Aquinas says our conscience is the Herald of God - even if our conscience is badly formed. HOWEVER, and most people do not understand this, if we are responsible for forming our conscience, and we either willfully neglect that task or we purposefully form it in an immoral manner (yes, that means we must have an outside, objective norm established for good and bad) then we are sinning when we follow our conscience.
In other words, if I do not know any better I have an obligation to follow my conscience and if I DO know better but purposefully immerse myself in horrible philosophy or ideas in order to be in lockstep with whatever culture surrounds me, well then, heck...I am following a conscience that has been badly formed. And I am not doing anything about it.
And that is not good.
It seems to me that too often I have clung to the idea of "I'm not perfect" as a kind of raft in a sea of troubling problems. If I hold onto that raft, I won't sink but neither will I be able to really ride the waves to shore. The raft is just a raft, it is not powerful enough to help me negotiate the choppy seas of hatred and immorality and sadness that weigh down the culture. But if I get ahold of a speedboat, I am in a better position to reach the shore: to step onto the solid ground of faith and love.
So where do I find a speedboat?
Holy Mother Church.
The Sacramental Life.
The Liturgical Life.
What do you think? Do you think you have an obligation to pursue the line of thought that says, "Good and Bad ARE objective. " and thereby properly form your conscience?
Or is that too scary?