If technology remained in the service of what is higher than itself — reason, man, God — it might indeed fulfill some of the functions that are now mythically attributed to it. But becoming autonomous, existing only for itself, it imposes upon man its own irrational demands, and threatens to destroy him. Let us hope it is not too late for man to regain control.
I have come to think that care of the soul requires a high degree of resistance to the culture around us, simply because that culture is dedicated to values that have no concern for the soul. To preserve our precious hearts, we may have to live economically against the grain, perhaps so as not to be forced into soul maiming work just to place bread on the table or put our children through college. We may not want to be plugged into electronic media and have our thoughts laundered daily with biased news, superficial commentary, and “lite” entertainment. We may not want to contribute to disastrous pollution of nature or participate in the current value empty philosophy of education. This comtemptus mundi is not a misanthropic, superior rejection of life’s pleasures but, rather, a compassionate attempt to find more grounded pleasure and communal fulfillment in deep appreciation for life relieved of ambition and control.
This is no longer a time of systematic ethical speculation, for such speculation implies time to reason, and the power to bring social and individual action under the concerted control of reasoned principles upon which most men agree.
There is no time to reason out, calmly and objectively, the moral implications of technical developments which are perhaps already superseded by the time one knows enough to reason about them.
Action is not governed by moral reason but by political expediency and the demands of technology — translated into the simple abstract formulas of propaganda. These formulas have nothing to do with reasoned moral action, even though they may appeal to apparent moral values — they simply condition the mass of men to react in a desired way to certain stimuli.
Men do not agree in moral reasoning. They concur in the emotional use of slogans and political formulas. There is no persuasion but that of power, of quantity, of pressure, of fear, of desire. Such is our present condition–and it is critical!
The Franciscan Rule exhorts us to live the Gospel. The Gospel is Jesus. Jesus reminds us I have come that they may have life more abundantly. (John 10: 10) Thus, to have this life we must “Live Jesus”. This cannot be accomplished if we have other “masters” who attract, seduce, direct, control us … and diminish or even destroy our ability to know, love, and serve the Lord. St. Francis’ radical detachment from things, made him a living example of the joy and freedom of one who is no longer “slave” to his/her wants and even to legitimate needs that he/she has allowed themselves to control their lives.
~ Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M.Cap., From the Desk of Fr. Francis – August, 2015
But this craving to understand everything includes certain ambiguities and needs to be purified. The motives behind our desire to understand may not always be upright. The thirst to know the truth in order to welcome it and conform our lives to it is completely in order. But there also is a desire to understand that is a desire for power: taking over, grasping, mastering the situation. The desire may also spring from another source that is far from pure: insecurity. In this case, understanding means reassuring ourselves, seeking security in the sense that we can control the situation if we understand it. Such security is too human, fragile, deceptive—it can be wrecked from one day to the next. The only true security in this life lies in the certainty that God is faithful and can never abandon us, because his fatherly tenderness is irrevocable.
The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.
Setting himself firmly in the footsteps of Jesus, Francis made an uncompromising demand that the brothers also abandon that power which dominates and controls. His insistence that the brothers abandon domineering power are equally as firm as the insistence that they abandon wealth: “Let all the brothers not have power or control… especially among themselves” (ER, V, 9). “None of the brothers may be treasurers or, overseers in any of those places where they are staying to serve or work among others. … Let them, instead, be the lesser ones and be subject to all in the same house” (ER, i VII, 1-3). “The brothers… [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][who] live spiritually among the Saracens and nonbelievers…[are] not to engage in arguments or disputes, but [are] to be subject to every human creature for God’s sake…” (ER, XVI, 5-6). Like Jesus before him, Francis recognized that power which controls and dominates is incompatible with compassion. The abandonment of such power is an essential precondition for compassionate redeeming love.
We must renounce the desire to have a God we can handle. We can be like people at a seaside resort who prefer the man-made swimming pool with its easy temperature, safety, and amenities. After all, it is sea-water! And a little beyond is the open sea, untrammelled, untameable, over which we have not control whatever. But it is to this sea that we must commit ourselves and let ourselves be carried away. It is terrifying, this immense sea that is God.
~ Ruth Burrows via Heather King
Many of us, myself included, seem to think we know what we need but the fact of the matter is, we might not know what we really need, or when something should happen. We must have faith that Jesus has the right answers and the right timing. As scary as it is, we need to trust that our loving God will take care of us, because He knows what’s best for us. As the song lyric goes, some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.
“I am not in control.”
Granted, God gave me dignity, free will and an understanding of the value of self-discipline to achieve certain ends. But, repeatedly, I credit myself too much, rely on myself too much, and aimlessly follow myself too much when I should me more aware that my God is present, active and infinitely invested in my life. How do I miss Him? Perhaps if I were simply a little more quiet, a little more content and a little more humble, I would hear the inner voice, understand the call, feel the glorious draw of the fishing line and once again find the Golden Thread. Perhaps. Yes. Perhaps that’s what I will do. May God help me.
~ Tod Worner, “God’s Call: Of Golden Strings & Fisherman’s Lines”