Dear Friends and Benefactors,
It was a pleasure to see and have the opportunity to speak with many of you at
the priestly ordination in Winona this past June. Such an event gives us a solid
dose of reality; helping to pull us away from the path of unreality taken by
many in the modern world.
These paths become more evident when we consider what the
basis of reality is. God alone is real. Anything else is real only in the exact
measure that it stands in its proper relation to God. In the measure that
something does not stand in its proper relation to God it is unreal. In fact,
only creatures with free will, i.e., angels and men, can be unreal in
this way because they alone can choose to depart from their proper relation with
the Creator. All other creatures, because they do not have free will, simply
follow what God has prescribed for them with His natural law. Lucifer, the
highest of the angels, was the founder of the cult of unreality. He refused to
acknowledge his proper relation to God by proudly attributing to himself the
wonderful gifts God had given him. In like manner Adam also stepped onto the
same path when, being tempted by Satan, he desired to become like God and so
took and ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and
evil. Both Lucifer and Adam failed to recognize that all goodness comes from God
alone and so departed from their proper relation to the Creator.
Today this unreality has grown and continues to grow with
fearful rapidity, producing chaos especially in the realms of thought, feeling,
and emotion. Nothing is considered in its relation to God as every value and
appreciation is unreal, false, and alien to Him. If God is thought of at all, it
is in the light of the deistic philosophers who believe that after creation God
was disinterested in the world He had created and so retired leaving it to
itself. They reject His sovereign presence in individual lives and His absolute
goodness which they claim for themselves while also denying that the wounds of
original sin ever existed. Like Rousseau they believe that man can solve all
problems, both personal and public, simply by returning to pure nature, which he
is able to do on his own or with some education but unaided by grace. Of course,
once original sin is denied it follows that man has no need for redemption.
This defiance of God quickly turns to a defiance of nature.
Having thrown aside grace yet still laden with sin, man easily loses what little
grasp he had on his own nature. Moral law is soon replaced by license as
determined by misguided human law and science. Technology, with its ever more
sophisticated electronics and machines, ensnares minds and pulls them down the
steep slope of unreality.
It is important that we do not let this tide of unreality
also carry us away. We must cultivate the real, which we can do by giving proper
value to persons and things. First things must come first. Therefore God must be
treasured above all. He alone is good. He alone is the source of any good we
have in us. He alone can heal our fallen human nature, injured by original sin,
by raising it with His grace to a supernatural level. We must have a simple and
sincere desire for the things of eternal life. The challenge lies in firmly
electing the unique satisfaction of mind and heart found only in the
supernatural and at the same time making a definite renouncement of the tendency
to seek satisfaction that does not lead to God in the natural world. God alone
is good and so He must be chosen as the term of all our activities and not just
some of them. We do not have a problem when it is a matter of seeking something
we like but often there is a difficulty in liking what we, as children of God,
should seek. We tend to be half-hearted in our quest for sanctity. We believe
that we earnestly desire eternal life but at the same time we long for things
that are an impediment to this life; cherishing them in our hearts. If this
continues our interest in created things will grow and inevitably we will find
ourselves losing any interest in God.
We must also be careful that these likes and desires are not
based on mere pious sentiments or emotions. Sentimentality is unreal. Our
intellect and will must be firmly set so that we seek Him with constancy
regardless of whether we feel a sensible devotion or a repelling dislike. Our
desire must be independent of taste and feelings.
After God and our share in the divine life we must also place
value in our proper relation to creation; as shown in our behavior towards
persons, things and the many situations life throws at us. All that I have said
in previous letters regarding the development of natural virtues by the 3Rs can
help to develop this sense of value for the real. Whether in cultivating proper
respect toward persons or things, showing responsibility in daily occupations or
being resourceful in our use of the things of this earth, our behavior must be
simple, sincere and direct.
Remember that man was created by God to be the steward of
creation. Yet, unaided by grace, we see creation, especially in the form of
technology, enslaving not only children but also adults who are too weak to
resist its dominating attraction. Take for example the world of video games.
Through computers we are now able to generate a three dimensional artificial
world, which we call virtual reality. With this technology, games are developed
to make the gaming experience as "real" as possible. You can completely develop
your own virtual character, live your own virtual life, and have virtual
relations with a whole virtual world of other virtual people and virtual
creatures using your own virtual morality. The only thing that is not unreal in
these games is the real money that must be spent to develop one’s virtual
experience and the effects they have on individuals. The rest is completely
unnatural and unreal —and yet it is put forward as something worthwhile and
admirable. Children and adults easily become addicted to these games. Many use
them as an escape from real life situations. As they become slaves to technology
there is a perversion of the right values of things and their grasp on nature is
loosened if not lost altogether.
Let us try to turn the tide on the growing cult of unreality.
We can cultivate the real and help our children to do the same by giving them
real life experiences. Throw out the computer games and get them involved in
real activities that teach them about real relations with real person and real
things. Show your children, by example, the importance that should be placed on
the Faith and
eternal salvation, which necessarily implies a certain
detachment from the world.
Finally teach them the greatest reality —that God alone is
Sincerely in the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Fr. John D. Fullerton